Friday, 23 September 2011

Manchester City v Everton

After 11 changes were made for the mid-week Carling Cup draw against Birmingham, City's '1st' string of players should be fully rested and ready to take on what has become our bogey team of late, Everton.

Even before the transfer of Joleon Lescott there was no real love lost between the two, however since then this fixture has become more like Everton's cup final, but to be fair to them, they've stepped up their game on each occasion. In fact we've only actually beat them once since the win in January 2007 and only got 3 draws in any fixture against them since then. This is something that has to change.

The last fixture saw City dominate the first half but only score 1 goal, then the performance dipped in the second (sound familiar?) and Everton came out fighting and won the game after scoring 2 goals in the 2nd half. If City are to genuinely challenge for the title it's these kind of games we need to be getting positive results in. I know that sounds kind of stupid as you need positive results in all games ideally, and it's that consistency that City lacked last season.

With a tough trip to Germany 3 days later it's unlikely that Mancini will field what many consider to be the strongest squad, but coming 2nd isn't something Bobby ever wants to do so don't expect a weak team to take to the pitch. Lets be honest, can City actually field a weak team at the moment?

In this fixture you can never really say you expect a win given the recent results, but it's got to change some time and there's no time like the present. City, despite their fantastic start, will have to be wary of Everton. The Toffees will be in high spirits as they go into this game on the back of a 5 game unbeaten run (3 Premier League and 2 Carling Cup) have won all but 1 of them.

Perhaps what's quite impressive about their current form is the fact they have had  different 9 goal scorers in those 5 games, although Arteta (2 goals) has left the club for Arsenal. Surprisingly Cahill isn't one of them and with his ability in the air City will have to keep an eye on him in set pieces as that is where City's defence has been asked questions for some time.

Of course City aren't without their own significant threats. Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero have scored 14 goals between them in the Premier League. Even if neither of them start City still have Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli who are both potent goal threats. Which one or two of them will start is anyone's guess though.

What may be more crucial is who starts behind them. Will Samir Nasri and David Silva both start with only 3 days before playing Bayern Munich? Will just one of them start? Or will neither play? Personally I'd say at least one of them has to start as they are easily the 2 most creative players in the squad and link the centre of the midfield to the attack.

James Milner may also start in the centre as he featured as a substitute against Birmingham after recovering from a knock, and City fans will no doubt be wanting to see Gareth Barry back in action too. We'll probably have more of an idea after the press conference this morning although Mancini rarely gives much away.

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