Everton boss Sean Dyche has played down the potential impact of Manchester City’s successful expedition to Jeddah.
Man City return to Premier League action on Wednesday with a trip to Goodison Park after they spent the past week in Saudi Arabia competing and subsequently winning the Club World Cup.
It was a welcome distraction for Pep Guardiola’s champions, who have endured recent domestic struggles with only one win from their last six league fixtures, but Dyche will tell his squad to ignore such talk.
“Sides like that, they are so used to it,” Dyche said of City’s trip halfway across the world.
“You think of the last five or six years under Pep and all the travelling they’ve done, all the things they’ve won, all the competitions, I’m not saying they are used to everything and this is probably slightly different, but at the end of the day I don’t think, I might be wrong, that they are travelling economy!
“I think they’ll be well looked after, so I won’t over-egg the physical side of it and they have so many good players, I still think they will put out a side that is a very strong side.
“And if it does help, then great and we’ll take all the help we can get but the main focus will be on us performing and not too much focus on them and what they have to do.
“In my experience of Man City, whenever you think of moments like that (poor form), they put out a side and deliver a performance.
“I will certainly make sure the players are ready and forget all of that, all the noise, all the news saying they are not doing this or that.
“Trust me, I’ve seen them a number of times and when you’re on the pitch with them, even when they make changes or they are stretched, they find a very strong side and a way of playing.”
Everton’s hopes of taking points off Man City have been dented by a growing injury list during a busy December schedule.
Key midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure recently picked up a muscle injury and Idrissa Gueye was forced off during Saturday’s 2-1 loss at Tottenham.
Both are unlikely to feature against City, which would result in Andre Gomes’ earning his first start of the season and Dele Alli is still building up his fitness after a recent returning to training.
Dyche said of Dele: “No, not yet. No, he’s not close yet.
| “I thought we were outstanding. You talk about pride in performances and taking pride in yourself – and it sounds weird because we lost today – but that was as close I have been to total pride. That was an outstanding performance.”
— Everton (@Everton) December 23, 2023
“We knew when we skimmed down the squad in the summer, obviously trying to balance things financially and the money, there is a challenge with that.
“You can’t have people everywhere so you try to fill the slots the best you can and use what money is available to get a more balanced squad.
“When there are runs like this and these games, they often put pressure on the squad and that’s the way it goes, but we’ll deal with it the best we can.”
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