After two comfortable wins against Watford and Preston, City will be confident in continuing with another good performance this weekend. In their last Premier League away fixture, however, City were defeated by a determined and brave Norwich side. Everton will be hoping to put in a similar performance tomorrow, but it would be fair to say they have had an inconsistent start to the 2019/20 season. Let’s see how the two teams match up, tactically…
The Opposition | Everton
Everton manager Marco Silva has predominantly stuck to a 4-2-3-1 system throughout the start of this season. Due to some inconsistent form and the huge attacking threat from City, there is a possibility he may deviate from this formation. He changed to a back three at one stage in the 2-0 defeat to Sheffield United, but it seems most likely he will stick to their usual system for this match.
With Pickford in goal, the most likely back four to start is Digne, Keane, Mina and Coleman. In front of them, it is perhaps most probable Silva will opt for Delph and Schneiderlin to attempt to bring defensive qualities into central midfield. He does have the option of Tom Davies too, while Andre Gomes is unlikely to feature due to a rib injury. Dominic Calvert-Lewin is the most likely to start up front after his brace in the Carabao Cup this week rather than Kean or Cenk Tosun. Playing just behind the striker it is expected that three of Richarlison, Sigurdsson, Bernard or Iwobi will start.
The Toffees’ attacking players are capable of posing a threat to any team. Players such as Richarlison and Bernard offer flair and ingenuity, while Sigurdsson can never be overlooked due to his long range shots and set pieces. Full backs Coleman and Digne also provide good options from out wide. Despite good individual qualities Everton have lacked the right balance in attacking areas this season so far. The front four have often lacked cohesion and despite having an average of 57% possession they don’t seem to create as many chances as they should with only five goals in the Premier League so far this year.
In terms of expected goals, they don’t fair much better with 7.57xG. Defensively they have been suspect too, conceding nine in six games so far this season. Their xGA fares slightly better being the fifth best in the league. However, that could be attributed to having a good amount of possession, meaning they keep the ball away from their goal, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they are performing well in the defensive phase of the game.
The Everton boss has started to come under a bit of pressure from the Everton fans, in part due to a perception that he is not tactically versatile enough with a lack of a ‘Plan B’. It is common now for managers to coach a particular way of playing and stick to it. There will be no bigger advocate of that approach than us due to our huge success in the last couple of years under Guardiola. However, it can bring a lot of frustration to fans who appear to be watching the same system fail to deliver expected results time again.
It is very doubtful that Everton will be able to maintain a high amount of possession in this game, however they might look to Manchester City’s previous fixture against Norwich and decide to play on the front foot as much as possible. Everton cannot be underestimated and an area they might look to exploit City is on set pieces. It has been well-publicised that City have struggled defending the near post at corners so far this season. With the delivery of Digne and Sigurdsson they can pose a real threat from corners and from direct free-kicks too.
With regards to ourselves, Pep has not yet changed from the 4-3-3 system which has seen a brilliant 24 goals in six games in the Premier League. In terms of the back four, the big decision seems to be at left-back with a choice of Mendy, Zinchenko or Angelino. Mendy is not yet at full fitness and with him featuring in both the Watford and Preston games, he may sit this one out. It is arguable however, that the most prudent thing to do may be to keep playing him in order for him to reach full fitness again. Angelino looked lively against Watford with some incisive crosses into the box. He did come on in very comfortable circumstances though and Goodison Park would present a much tougher test for the 22 year old.
With Rodri and De Bruyne rested against Preston, both appear very likely to start this weekend with Bernardo Silva, David Silva and possibly Foden in contention for the final spot in central midfield. A huge strength for City this season has been De Bruyne’s ability to find time in the right half-space and whip pin-point deliveries into the box as well as make quick combination passes with others on the right. He has notched up seven assists so far in the Premier League this year and if Everton do not come up with a plan to prevent this, expect chances to be created in this way.
In addition, with Everton possessing two attacking full backs, City may look to exploit that area of the pitch should they become too adventurous when they have the ball. Whatever the front three Guardiola opts for, they will surely be confident of causing problems for an Everton defense that are starting to show similar frailties that occurred for them during last season.
In previous years, this fixture has been a problem for Manchester City. Fortunately for us, it isn’t 2006 anymore and the title of ‘Bogey team’ appears to have been taken by Wigan in recent years! With City beating Everton in the last three games in fairly convincing fashion, I am personally confident of a win this weekend. That said, Everton do have quality in their team and we will need to ensure we are at our best.
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