Everton boss Sam Allardyce says his side will have to be ready for their "biggest challenge” yet when they host Premier League leaders Manchester City on Saturday evening.
Pep Guardiola’s side hold a 16 point over rivals Manchester United at the top of the table and victory at Goodison Park will see them reach the verge of securing the title.
However, Allardyce says his side is relishing the chance to test themselves against the league’s best following their recent form where his side have secured back to back wins over Brighton & Hove Albion and Stoke City.
Speaking to the media at Finch Farm ahead of the game, the Blues boss stated: "We’ve got a big test in front of us.
“It's the biggest challenge yet but it’s one we really look forward to on the basis that we’ve come off back-to-back wins against Brighton and Stoke.”
The 63-year-old added: “You have to believe you can (stop them). We have to be in a positive frame of mind to get out and challenge yourself against them and say, ‘We can challenge them and, on any given day, get a result against them’.
“We’ve got to believe in what we’re doing. But we’ll have to be at our best – there’s no doubt about that.”
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“We can’t be intimidated”
The Citizens are effectively two wins away from lifting the Premier League trophy and with a major Champions League tie ahead of them after this game, they will want to secure the three points at Goodison Park with minimal fuss.
Guardiola’s squad is deep after having invested well during his time at the Etihad and even a ‘weakened’ side would still represent a really difficult challenge for Allardyce’s side.
The Everton boss said: “The money has been spent really well. I think that, you know, it’s a lot of money but it’s been spent on quality. Over his (Guardiola’s) short period there, those players have brought so much more to the team overall.
“Certainly, the confidence has grown - where they believe every game they’re not going to get beat. That grows and becomes another force before you start.”
“We can’t be intimidated by that,” Allardyce continued. “We’ve got to get our game plan in place and we’ve got master our game plan for the full 90 minutes to get a result.
“It’s a massive game for us to go out and show what we’ve got.”
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The Blues are still without a number of players due to long-term injuries.
Gylfi Sigurdsson, who stated he is ‘making steady progress,’ will watch from the sidelines whilst Idrissa Gana Gueye will undergo a late fitness test.
“We’ll see in the next 24 hours what we’ve got (with Gueye’s injury). Obviously, our midfield area is quite light so we’ll wait and see,” Allardyce stated.