Verdict: Total home goals over 2.5
Best odds: 8/13
Manchester City are set to take on Everton at the Etihad on Saturday afternoon in what will be their 16th Premier League match of the season, 17th for Everton. As one might’ve expected given everything that’s been happening with these two teams in recent years, their respective season goals are quite different, but their need for points is equally strong.
In 2022, City won the Premier League title for the seventh time in the last 11 seasons, outrunning Liverpool in the end by a single point. But however surprised they may be with the Merseysiders looking completely off this time, they will be equally worried about Arsenal at the moment. Sitting second to the Gunners with a five-point deficit, Pep Guardiola’s team will need to maintain their current level down to the very end if they are to even hope of defending their title.
Going with the immense quality of Erling Haaland this season rather than the usual quantity of options upfront, City have seen their new striker become the fastest player ever to score 20 Premier League goals, and he’s well on-course to break the 32-goal record set in 2017/18 by Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah.
City have mostly been convincing as ever this season, but an occasional slip has been known to hurt them. Of the last six competitive matches, for example, they won five, but they will certainly be disappointed with that one that got away, losing 1-2 at home against Brentford. Meanwhile, Leicester City was beaten away by 0-1, Sevilla at home by 3-1, Fulham at home by 2-1, Chelsea at home in the Carabao Cup by 2-0, Liverpool 3-2 at home also in the Carabao Cup, and eventually Leeds United away by 1-3.
Over in the Champions League, Guardiola’s men finished top of Group G, ahead of Borussia Dortmund, Sevilla and Copenhagen. In the next round, they’ve been drawn against RB Leipzig. City have won every other trophy on offer under Guardiola, but this one remains elusive for the time being.
Guardiola has two player missing from his squad for this match. Striker Julian Alvarez is still on holiday following his glorious exploits at the World Cup, and defender Ruben Dias picked up a hamstring injury in Portugal’s quarterfinal defeat to Morocco in Qatar.
With Ederson between the posts, John Stones is likely to pair up with Aymeric Laporte in the heart of defence, Nathan Ake is likely to continue at left-back, but Joao Cancelo should return to the lineup ahead of young Rico Lewis who started against Leeds United on the right. There could be some rotation in midfield, with Bernardo Silva a candidate to replace Ilkay Gundogan or Kevin De Bruyne, but Rodri is nailed-on to start at the base. Upfont, Haaland will lead the line, but Phil Foden should replace Jack Grealish on the left with Riyad Mahrez keeping his place on the right.
At the moment, there’s a lot of talk about Everton boss Frank Lampard and the possibility of him losing his job. The supporters’ patience is wearing out due to a largely disappointing season, and some of them are already looking at lists of unemployed coaches via social media. The prospect of playing away to Manchester City next won’t be much of a consolation.
Having barely escaped relegation the last time around, there was hope that the Merseyside Blues would finally kick on in 2022/23 and perhaps be involved in a fight for European places, but it seems they’ll actually be fighting against the drop once more. At the moment, they are in 17th place with 14 points, dangling dangerously above the relegation zone, with only Wolverhampton Wanderers (13), Nottingham Forest (13) and Southampton (12) still below. The scramble to get safe will obviously be a desperate one for every team involved.
The Toffees are traveling to Manchester on the back of four successive defeats. Before that, they beat Crystal Palace 3-0 at home and drew 0-0 away to Fulham, but then they lost 0-2 at home to Leicester City, 4-1 away to Bournemouth in the Carabao Cup and 3-0 to the same opponent at the same venue in the league, and on Boxing day, they lost 1-2 at home against Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Midfielder James Garner is out (back), as is winger Andros Townsend (knee). Defender Yerry Mina is a doubt following a hamstring strain against Wolves, but Conor Coady is back in contention having been ineligible to face his parent club.
The biggest boost for Lampard’s team is probably striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin being ready to play.
Jordan Pickford will be between the posts, probably with Coady and James Tarkowski infront, flanked by Vitaliy Mykolenko and Nathan Patterson. Amadou Onana, Idrissa Gana Gueye and Alex Iwobi are likely to form the midfield, with Anthony Gordon on the right wing and either Demarai Gray or Dwight McNeil on the left. Upfront, it remains to be seen if Calvert-Lewin is ready to start ahead of Neal Maupay.
There isn’t really too much doubt that Manchester City will settle this encounter in their favour, probably with a couple of goals to spare.
Verdict: Total home goals over 2.5
Best odds: 8/13
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