Everton may have virtually lost all chances to achieve a top 4 finish, but they can make a huge impact on the Premier League title race as they play host to the number one candidates for the trophy. Having successfully ended Crystal Palace’s winning run, the Citizens would make a giant step towards the coveted title by winning at Goodison Park.
The mere fact Everton succeeded in mounting a serious top 4 challenge during what has been a transition season for the club speaks volumes about the work new manager Roberto Martinez and his players have put in this term. The Toffees seriously improved their record against England’s top sides to prove they have what it takes to clinch Champions League qualification in the near future, but it appears they will have to settle for a fifth-place finish this time out. For a moment it looked as though Everton might just pip Arsenal to a top 4 berth, but defeats to Crystal Palace and Southampton virtually ended team’s Champions League hopes. And despite defeating Arsenal and Manchester United in their last two home games against top sides, Everton face an uphill task against revived Manchester City, with the spirits very low after the loss at St Mary’s. The good news is that captain Phil Jagielka is likely to feature after recovering from injury, but his defensive partner Sylvain Distin faces a fitness test. Kevin Mirallas, Darron Gibson, Arouna Kone, Lacina Traore, Steven Pienaar and Bryan Oviedo remain on the sidelines.
Manchester City players could have been forgiven for giving up on the Premier League title following back to back slip ups against Liverpool and Sunderland, but with Chelsea doing them a huge favour by winning at Anfield, the Citizens again have the matters in their own hands. Manchester City are three points behind leaders Liverpool, but with a game in hand and +58 goal difference as opposed to Reds’ +50. And with City set to host Aston Villa and West Ham in their final two fixtures, there are no doubts much will depend on the outcome of the tie at Goodison Park. The Citizens successfully negotiated potentially a very difficult fixture against Crystal Palace last weekend, mostly thanks to amazing Yaya Toure, who has climbed to the third place in the Premier League goalscoring charts. That win will give Manuel Pellegrini’s charges plenty of confidence ahead of the Everton clash and with Fernaindinho set to return to the side, the visitors will be almost at full strength. David Silva could also return from an ankle problem, but Jesus Navas and Matija Nastasic are out injured.
Everton will struggle to rediscover their form following yet another disappointing defeat and despite their record against top teams at Goodison, I seriously doubt they can put a dent into City’s title hopes. With Yaya Toure on top of his game, and Aguero, Silva and Fernandinho all back in action, away win looks on the cards.
Verdict: Away win Manchester City (2)
Best Odds: 3/4
Bookmaker: William Hill