Manchester City will have to beat their own inconsistency first in order to beat the resilient Toffees and reach the Capital One Cup semi-finals. Everton are heading to the Etihad stadium with the 2-1 lead and will be looking to close the deal in the return leg.
The Citizens are desperate to go back to the Capital One Cup final once again after their victorious campaign two years ago, when they beat Sunderland to lift the trophy. The Blues will however have to over-turn the 2-1 deficit from the first semi-final leg against Everton who came out on top after goals from Ramiro Funes Mori and Romelu Lukaku. Manchester City have been pretty inconsistent lately, failing to notch back-to-back wins since the beginning of December. However, with the exception of the loss to Everton in the first leg, Pellegrini’s men have alternated between wins and draws in their last eight matches. Their defensive struggles have once again been evident in the weekend draw at West Ham. The Hammers opened the scorings through Valencia after a minute in the game, but Sergio Aguero was quick to level the score eight minutes after. West Ham once again took the lead after another goal from Valencia just short of the hour mark, and it was once again Aguero the saviour, who set the final 2-2 score with his goal with ten minutes left on the clock. Manuel Pellegrini confirmed that City’s captain Vincent Kompany will miss the eighth game in a row, and Blues’ defense line has been shaky and leaky ever since the towering Belgian was left sidelined.
Vincent Kompany is out for another six weeks as City captain’s calf problems continue. This is the 13th calf injury he has sustained since joining the club in 2008 and the fans will have to wait a bit more until they see the captain back in action.
In addition to the Belgian defender, Manchester City will be without Samir Nasri who is also the long-term absentee. Another change in the team is Willy Caballero, who is set to start again in the Capital One Cup.
The Toffees had gone five games without defeat before their weekend’s home loss to Swansea, but with their form on the downslide the manager Roberto Martinez is starting to feel the heat. Sunday’s 2-1 defeat to the struggling Swansea seems to have been the breaking point with the howls of discontent after the final whistle as clear indicators of how the fans felt regarding their teams current run. The Toffees have indeed become a real joy to watch, as Roberto Martinez has his side playing attractive attacking football, but their good work upfront is more than often undermined by sloppy defence on the opposite end. Everton are three points better off than they were last season at this point in the league, but Roberto Martinez’s future has been put under scrutiny and the British media even suggest that the Spanish manager has a week to try and save his job. Another win against Manchester City and progressing to the Capital One Cup final will definitely ease the pressure. Everton will be looking to bounce back and keep hold of their lead from the first leg, but with their third clash against Citizens in just twenty days’ time defeating the team like City twice would indeed be considered a feat.
Everton will be without their two key men against Manchester City, as midfielder Muhamed Besic and winger Kevin Mirallas suffered injuries in the Saturday’s defeat to Swansea.
Tony Hibbert and Tyias Browning remain sidelined with their respective knee problems and it will be a while before Everton’s defensive duo is back in contention.
Key Factors to Consider
- Manchester City have lost only 1 of their last 13 home games in all competitions
- There have been more than 2.5 goals scored in 5 of City’s last 6 matches
- Everton are the third most effective team in the league with 40 goals to the name
- Manchester City last won the competition in 2014
- Everton last reached the Capital One Cup final in 1977
We should be in for an exciting game between two teams who are scoring a lot of goals this season. Everton are holding the lead from the first leg and Manchester City will try to use the home ground advantage and hurt Everton, who have been in poor form recently.
Verdict: Home win
Best odds: 8/15