Everton and Manchester City will get to renew their North West rivalry on Sunday, as Pep Guardiola makes his first trip to Goodison Park. The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss, gets to take on one of his mentors again in Ronald Koeman.
The last meeting between the two teams came in October and finished 1-1, thanks to a sensational performance from Everton goalkeeper, Maarten Stekelenburg. The Dutch international had penalty saves to add to a near perfect afternoon.
The Blues headed to The Etihad set-up to counter-attack, looking to ride their luck but aren’t likely to set-up in the same way this time out.
New signings Morgan Schneiderlin and Ademola Lookman are likely to be featured in the squad, with the Frenchman potentially making his debut. Lookman, 19, could find his way on to the Everton bench, with the Blues needing fresh bodies and injuries injected into their squad.
In Focus: Stones’ return to Goodison Park
Sunday’s game represents the return of John Stones to Goodison Park. The English centre-half departed down the M62 during the Summer transfer window for a fee of £47.5 million.
Stones is likely to face a hostile reception upon his return but that should fade after his first few touches. For Everton, he had the potential to be a key player but promises that were made to him were broken and both sides have moved on to greener pastures.
Earlier in the week, Stones made noises about wanting to return to Goodison Park at some point as a fan to watch his friends, presumably Ross Barkley - with whom he was and remains close to - and to see people at the club he is yet to see since his departure.
The Yorkshire-born defender has always been touted as one of the next big things in football and while he is yet to show any development under Guardiola, he still has plenty of time ahead of him.
A look at the opposition: Manchester City
Everton will have to find a way to nullify Sergio Aguero. The Argentine is one of, if not the best, strikers in the Premier League but has only found the net once on his travels to Goodison Park. Koeman may look to employ there central defenders, as he aims to stop the potent Argentinian forward.
One City that has historically played at Goodison Park is Yaya Toure. The Bruising Ivorian midfielder will draw the attention of either Gareth Barry or Morgan Schneiderlin, depending on who Koeman selects.
Teams have found success against City by putting pressure on the much maligned Claudio Bravo and his defence. That defence, which includes former Everton central defender John Stones, has conceded twenty-two goals this campaign are without a clean sheet in two games.
Probable teams and injury report
Aaron Lennon is likely to return from injury for Everton while Maarten Stekelenburg and James McCarthy will be assessed after returning to training during the week.
Manchester City are again without the suspended Fernandinho, while new signing Gabriel Jesus is not eligible to make his debut after he was not registered in time.
Vincent Kompany and Leroy Sane could also be available for City after recovering from injury. Fernando is the only other fitness concern.
Everton: Stekelenburg, Baines (C), Funes Mori, Williams, Coleman, Davies, Schneiderlin, Barkley, Mirallas, Valencia & Lukaku.
Manchester City: Bravo, Kolarov, Stones, Otamendi, Sagna, Fernando, Toure, Silva, De Bruyne, Sterling & Aguero.
Match Day stats:
1. Manchester City are unbeaten in their last seven matches against Everton and have won two of their last three visits to Merseyside.
2. Everton have lost just once in their last 13 home games in the Premier League.
3. Three of Everton's last five goals against the Citizens in the Premier League have been scored by Romelu Lukaku.