Manchester City vs Everton pre-match analysis: Both sides look to bounce back

Manchester City vs Everton pre-match analysis: Both sides look to bounce back

The blue sides of Manchester and Liverpool will face each other this weekend, as Manchester City host Everton at the Etihad Stadium.

Ollie Haggart

Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City will be looking to build on their almost perfect start to the Premier League season, and get back on track with three points after slipping to a surprise defeat to Tottenham before the International break.

The league leaders will face new-look Everton, who will also be aiming to give the fans something to cheer about after a loss and a draw against Bournemouth and Crystal Palace respectively.

Wins needed for both sides

​Although Manchester City currently sit at the top of the Premier League table with 18 points from seven games, a win would definitely allow the title-cotenders to remain above Tottenham in second.

On-form Tottenham managed to take all three points in City's last fixture thanks Dele Alli and an own goal by Aleksandar Kolarov. The victory for the London side saw them move up to second, only one point behind City - meaning the league leaders cannot slip up.

Last week brought dissapointment to Everton too, when Romelu Lukaku's spectacular free-kick was cancelled out by a Christian Benteke header, meaning Palace are unbeaten in four at Goodison Park.

This underwhelming draw followed from a 1-0 defeat to Bournemouth the week before, with both results coming as a suprise considering Everton had recorded four wins and a draw prior to this. A win for Everton could potentially move them up to second.

Can Lukaku fire the visitors to victory?

If Everton were to win, Ronald Koeman’s side will be only one point behind this weekend’s opposition, showing real ambition from the new manager. However, it is goals that win games, and with Everton’s main talisman in Romelu Lukaku having missed a game for Belgium with a thigh injury, Everton may have to look elsewhere for inspiration.

The 23 year-old was substituted in the 82nd minute as his Nation defeated Bosnia-Herzegovina in a World Cup qualifying match 4-0. Subsequently, Lukaku did not feature in Belgium’s second game of the international break, leaving many Everton fans concerned.

Lukaku will likely feature in this weekend's game, but it is uncertain as to whether he will start | photo: Getty Images

Although Lukaku has been training with his Everton teammates since returning from international duty, it is uncertain as to whether he will be fit to start, and will undergo a late fitness test on Saturday morning.

Back-up’s given big task

Even if Lukaku is fit to start, it is unlikely that he will be able to last the full 90 minutes, meaning we are likely to see the introduction of one of Everton’s deputies at one point or another.

The likely replacement comes in the form of Enner Valencia, the deadline day loanee from West Ham United. Valencia scored twice for Ecuador mid-week, including an 89th minute equaliser to ensure his nation took a point against Bolivia.

However, the 26 year-old stole the headlines for other, more negative reasons during the break, as he was confronted by the police and lawyers over claims of unpaid child maintenance. Despite Valencia having put across his side of the story on Instagram, the publicity and accusations may have affected the striker at the wrong time, with Everton perhaps needing him to net his first goal this weekend.

Aguero too big a problem for Everton defence?

Manchester City’s top goal-scorer, Sergio Aguero currently sits in third in the Premier League goal-scorer table with five goals in five games (88 minutes per goal – best rate in the league), and a total of 12 goals in nine games in all competitions.

Everton meanwhile have improved in terms of their defensive sturdiness, having only conceded five goals in their seven games so far, as opposed to the seven let in at this stage last season. Despite the Toffees tight defensive displays thus far, the ever-present Aguero will certainly pose a threat, especially when considering Jagielka and Baines’ recent injury concerns.

Although Everton have looked more convincing defensively this campaign, four of their fixtures have been against teams in the bottom half of the table, with only Tottenham being in the top five; it could be an intersting watch to see how the blues' back four copes with the world class strike force that City possess.