15th March 2013
Everton will have a lot to prove following the embarrassing FA Cup exit at the hands of Wigan Athletic, but it is perfectly clear the Toffees will be out of the top 4 race if they fail to win this match. Manchester City are in a similar position given they are 12 points adrift of leaders United, so no doubt the stakes will be high when the two sides square off at Goodison Park.
For the first time after quite a while, Everton managed to start a season brightly, mounting a serious top 4 challenge, but the lack of strength in depth has ended up costing the team dearly in the second part of the season. While the likes of Kevin Mirallas, Seamus Coleman and Darron Gibson have struggled to stay fit, key players Marouane Fellaini and Nikica Jelavic have seen their performances drop a great deal since the turn of the year. It is more than clear that Everton are now running on empty, and it appears that they will even miss out on Europa League places. The 3-0 FA Cup defeat to relegation-threatened Wigan was clearly a huge blow to the players’ confidence, and no doubt the hosts are going to be under pressure when they take on reigning champions Manchester City. Injuries to Tim Howard, Phil Jagielka and Tony Hibbert are set to further damage the team’s cause.
This season has been pretty disappointing for the reigning Premier League champions, who have utterly failed to mount a serious tittle challenge in the league and make their presence known in Europe, but Roberto Mancini’s side will, nonetheless, attempt to end this season on a high. The FA Cup title is still up for grabs after City defeated Barnsley to reach the semi-finals, while the Citizens seem to believe they can produce another upset and pip United to the league title for the second time in a row. That looks a mission impossible at the moment with the Red Devils 12 points clear at the Premier League summit, but so did the last season’s title challenge when City overturn an eight-point deficit in the final six matches. They now look to be near the desired form, having won last four fixtures and they seem a good bet to make it five in a row. Sergio Aguero is set to miss out with a knee injury, while captain Vincent Kompany is rated 50-50 due to a calf problem.
Everton will have a hard time recovering from the embarrassing defeat to Wigan, and with the players clearly lacking freshness, matching in-form City is going to be no easy task. The Citizens are cruising at the moment and they can be trusted to continue the rich vein of form at Goodison Park.
Verdict: Away win Manchester City (2)
Best Odds: 11/10
Bookmaker: Paddy Power