Manchester City vs. Everton: 5 Bold Predictions
On paper, an away tie with the Premier League champions tends to fill most supporters with angst, but the Toffees travel to Eastlands having won an impressive eight of the previous 10 contests between the two teams.
Roberto Mancini is fully aware of his side's previous troubles against Everton, stating so in the Daily Mail:
"I think (facing) Everton is difficult for everyone, for us, for Manchester United, for Chelsea. Because every game they play against a top squad, they play very, very well. Every match we play against them, we have a problem."
"I think that tomorrow will be the same. For the top team to beat Everton, it is difficult. They always play 100 percent, and you beat them only if you play a fantastic game."
Will the Toffees maintain their remarkable record against their wealthy adversary, or will Manchester City's quality shine through?
Here are five predictions for tomorrow's clash.
£40 Million Toffees in Reserve
In the past three seasons, Manchester City have twice managed to wrestle players away from Everton, exchanging Jack Rodwell and Joleon Lescott for a tidy sum approaching £40 million.
However, with Rodwell already submerged beneath the wealth of talent available at Eastlands, and Lescott recently losing his starting place to Matija Nastasic, it's possible neither former Toffee will feature against their previous club.
Lescott's prolonged absence from the team has even caused speculation to mount over a possible loan move away from the club, which is surprising for a player so involved in last season's success.
The Toffees' own starting line-up will marginally eclipse the £40 million mark raised from the sales of their former duo and should show just how well the funds have been invested in the team.
Goals Goals Goals
Many experts will predict this game to be a close, tactical affair, with few openings early on.
However, in recent months, both clubs have appeared uncharacteristically frail at the back and have leaked a few too many goals for their managers' liking.
Added to that, no side has managed more shots at goal in the Premier League than these two, with Everton's 266 attempts just shading City's 256.
In fact, in Europe's major leagues, only Real Madrid average more shots per game this season, which surely provides the perfect formula for a match packed full of goalmouth action and plenty of goals.
Ever since Joleon Lescott's bad-tempered transfer saga in 2009, this fixture has become somewhat of a grudge match, usually played out at a fast tempo and crammed full of controversial incidents.
The last few games have seen full-blooded tackles, heated rows, managers jostling each other, coaches and players squaring up, as well as several well-populated on-field fracases.
In total, 27 yellow cards and two reds have been shown in the previous five fixtures and tomorrow's encounter could very easily boil over and produce another tasty melee or two for supporters to enjoy.
A Surprise Half-Time Score
With the expectancy firmly on the hosts to start the game well, don't be surprised if it's Everton who come out the blocks firing.
David Moyes relishes the underdog tag and will demand his players give every ounce of energy to the cause in an attempt to shock the hosts.
Statistically, Everton have scored a league-high percentage of first half goals (67 per cent) and have one of the best half-time records in the division, despite so often being behind early in recent weeks.
Manchester City have started a few games this season at a lethargic tempo, having to wait until late on to find their rhythm and eventually secure the points.
If this tendency repeats itself, the Toffees have the players to catch Mancini's men cold, at least for the first 45 minutes.
Toffees Come Away with a Well Earned Point
To partially douse any raised expectations from the previous slide, after some pedestrian first halves, Manchester City have gone on to score a league-high 74 per cent of goals in the second half of games—something that could prove decisive on Saturday.
Everton will certainly have to start fast, but if they do get ahead, Moyes' team have had recent success at keeping top teams at bay this year, after taking an early strike.
Whilst City's fire power may well prove too much to result in the ultimate upset, there's no reason to suggest the Toffees cannot head back from Eastlands with a hard-fought point.
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