Early kick off – Manchester City v Everton preview
Manchester City take on Everton at the Etihad tomorrow – a massive game for both clubs for very different reasons.
City (4/6 with Coral) need to get back on the horse quickly after such a chastening experience against Bayern Munich in midweek and in a way will be pleased to be following up with a game that requires total focus.
Everton (4/1) need a good result, too, not only to maintain the only unbeaten record in the Premier League, but also to give them belief that such a sound start to the campaign can develop into something more tangible; in other words a top four finish and everything that goes with it.
Mind you, Roberto Martinez and his players could be excused for thinking they are well out of the Champions League scene this season after watching City torn apart by Bayern on Wednesday.
Quite simply, they were outclassed by a team who will have also frightened the life out of every other side in Europe with aspirations of taking their crown next May, including, of course, the other three English clubs. On that showing, everybody else can forget it.
City, as they demonstrated against Man United just a fortnight ago, are a quality side themselves on their day, still Coral’s 5/2 favourite to win the Premier League, and provided the mental wounds inflicted by the Germans aren’t too severe, should have too much for Everton.
This is a different game altogether for Manuel Pellegrini’s men and surely Yaya Toure, to name just one player overwhelmed in midweek, can’t be so impotent in what, on paper at least, is a such less demanding fixture.
Everton drew their first three matches of the campaign before beating Chelsea and then recording thrilling back-to-back 3-2 victories against West Ham and Newcastle. The Toffees ran Newcastle ragged in the first half last Monday and look a very good side when it all clicks.
Coral rate them 80/1 chances to win the title, still long-shots but a lot shorter than the 500/1 they were a few weeks ago. More realistically, they are now just 6/1 to finish in the top four and with on-loan and in-form striker Romelu Lukaku (8/1 to score first or last tomorrow, 11/4 at any time) leading the way, that’s now more than just a pipe-dream for the Everton faithful.
City will also need to be wary of Leighton Baines (5/1 to score over 90 minutes), surely the best taker of free kicks around the box in England.
This will be a difficult game for both sides and the outcome is not easy to predict with confidence, given the baggage City will be carrying, but the home side may just shade it, maybe 2-1 (15/2).
Written by Jon Freeman