Manchester City vs Everton Preview: Blues face tough City test to start hectic week

Everton will travel to the Etihad Stadium to play Manchester City on Monday night, hoping to maintain their early season unbeaten run.

The Blues are in high spirits after winning their opening Premier League fixture against Stoke City and then rolling that into a first leg win against Hajduk Split in the Europa League play-off round but face a difficult week of fixtures.

Before the return leg in Croatia and a trip to play Chelsea, it’s Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in the way of Ronald Koeman’s Everton side.

Guardiola’s men picked up all three points on the South coast on the opening week against Premier League newcomers Brighton and Hove Albion but generally play their best football in the confines of the Etihad Stadium.

Last season, it took a heroic performance from Maarten Stekelenburg and a vintage Romelu Lukaku goal to secure the Blues a point in Manchester. This time around, they’ll be hoping that Jordan Pickford can maintain his 100% clean sheet record and Wayne Rooney can provide the goals.

In Focus: Everton’s difficult week

The win over Split was the beginning of an extremely difficult week and a half for Everton. Their fears of a potential first leg slip up were alleviated after two first half goals wrapped the game up.

Now, Koeman’s side travel up the M62 to play Guardiola’s new-look City side before heading off to Croatia for the return leg on Thursday night.

It’s a balancing act but one Koeman asked for when he helped guide the Blues back into Europe.

There are fitness concerns for Sandro Ramírez, who missed Thursday’s game with a knock, whilst new club record signing Gylfi Sigurdsson lacks match fitness after only playing 45 minutes during pre-season.

Koeman has already stated that Sigurdsson will have a role to play on Monday night, as he will on Thursday and again on Sunday away at Chelsea.

Despite a lack of pace in his squad, the Everton boss will likely set his team out to defend and look to spring counter attacks this week - especially away in the Premier League.

The Blues will be hoping to ride their luck and get out of August in reasonably good shape, both domestically and in Europe.

A look at: Manchester City

Pep Guardiola will be looking to build on last season’s disappointing third place finish as the Catalan boss targets a better title charge this season.

The Citizens have just returned from a warm-weather training camp in Spain where they were beaten 1-0 by Girona.

This is the second season in the Premier League for the 46-year-old and after some 'growing pains' during his debut year, the former Champions League winner will have ultimately learned from previous experiences.

He suffered one of his worst defeats as a manager against Everton in January when Koeman’s side ran away as 4-0 winners at Goodison Park.

Guardiola won’t be looking to repeat that this season.

City have spent big, again, in the transfer window and have strengthened an already superbly talented squad. Bernardo Silva, arguably the best signing of them all, will be pushing for a start after starting last week’s game against Brighton on the bench.

The Portuguese international who cost Guardiola around £45 million is extremely talented and offers great depth to already deep City attack.

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Probable line-ups

Everton: Pickford, Martina, Keane, Jagielka, Williams, Baines, Schneiderlin, Gueye, Klaassen, Rooney and Sandro.

City: Ederson, Walker, Otamendi, Kompany, Stones, Bernardo Silva, Fernandinho, De Bruyne, David Silva, Jesus and Aguero.

Match Day Stats

1. Everton have not won away at Manchester City since December 2010.

2. Pep Guardiola's side have lost just one of their past 22 Premier League home games (W13, D8)

3. Everton's last Premier League away win was 1-0 at Crystal Palace on 21 January.