Everton vs Manchester City: Match Preview
Everton also face an uphill task as they struggle to regain that early season form which saw them emerge as real contenders for a spot in the top four.
However, a bad run for the Toffees has seen them win just two of their last seven games and caused them to fall to seventh place in the league.
Now seven points behind Chelsea in fourth place with 10 games remaining, the dream of Champions League football is looking exactly that: a dream, rather than a realistic idea.
A 3-1 victory over struggling Reading two weeks ago saw a return to form for David Moyes’ side but last weekend’s 3-0 defeat at home to Wigan Athletic knocked them out of the FA Cup and suggested that all is not right at Goodison.
Moyes has continued to stall over contract negotiations leaving his future uncertain and it has been suggested these behind-the-scenes problems have impacted negatively on the players.
Man City will look to take advantage of this and playing at 12:45pm can cut the gap to nine points and put pressure on title rivals Manchester United who face Reading at Old Trafford at 17:30.
Everton are likely to be without goalkeeper Tim Howard who is suffering from a back injury, with Slovakian back-up Jan Mucha expected to again take his place between the sticks.
Phil Jagielka is also a concern for Moyes but it is believed his ankle injury is behind him and the centre-half is likely to make the bench for the visit of Man City.
Tony Hibbert is Everton’s only long-term absentee having undergone surgery on an injured calf muscle.
Manchester City are without two of their most influential players at either end of the pitch, as Sergio Aguero (knee) and Vincent Kompany (calf) are both ruled out of tomorrow’s testing trip to Goodison.
Both are expected to return for their next league fixture, at home against Newcastle United.
Micah Richards and Jack Rodwell will remain unavailable, suffering from knee and hamstring injuries respectively.
Everton have generally posed a threat when squaring off against Manchester City in recent years so there is no doubt that today’s game could go either way.
The past two meetings between the sides have served up a 1-1 draw and an Everton victory – a 1-0 scoreline with Darron Gibson grabbing the only goal of the game.
Man City have not won at Goodison Park since April 2009, with Everton winning their last three home meetings with the champions.
These statistics suggest the omens are not particularly good for Roberto Mancini and his side.
City will be looking to in-form striker Carlos Tevez for inspiration – the Argentinian striker has bagged six goals in his last four games.
The first goal is likely to be a vital one with both sides very capable defensively – should Everton score first they have the ability to sit back and invite pressure then counter effectively with the pace of Steven Pienaar and Kevin Mirallas.
Likewise, City have defended extremely well in recent weeks and should they net first, it is difficult to see them giving up their lead.
If City don’t take all three points, the league could be effectively wrapped up by 7.30pm should United beat Reading.
I’m on the fence for this one.
Andrew Burgoyne’s prediction: Everton 1 Manchester City 1