Everton face Manchester City in the rescheduled Premier League fixture after the original December meeting was postponed following a Covid outbreak within the City first-team squad.
The visitors sit seven points clear at the top of the table and have the chance to extend the gap with a win at Goodison Park. Pep Guardiola’s side will be looking to build on their history-making run of 16 consecutive wins in all competitions.
City will make further history with a win, becoming the first club to win 10 English top-flight games at the start of a calendar year- Bolton Wanderers (1906) and Manchester United (2009) also have nine.
Everton suffered an embarrassing home defeat to Fulham on Sunday, missing out on the chance to go level on points with Liverpool. A win would see their European ambitions steered back on the track, with the Toffees five points off a Champions League place.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side have been hit with injuries over recent weeks, but are welcomed by the return of a number of key players.
Jordan Pickford and Allan are both available. Pickford has missed the last four games with a rib injury, whilst Allan has been sidelined with a hamstring injury for the last two months.
Allan was a substitute against Fulham and after undergoing a scan on Monday, the midfielder has been deemed fit to play and is in contention to start. Likewise, Pickford returned to training and will be assessed with Ancelotti revealing if available, will play.
However, Everton will be without top scorer, Dominic Calvert-Lewin who missed Sunday’s match. The striker was forced off against Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup with a hamstring issue, although Ancelotti announced it’s a ‘matter of days’ before Calvert-Lewin is back. The Italian boss hopes the England international will be available for the Merseyside Derby on Saturday.
The Everton manager rotated his defence last time out and is expected to do so again, with a return to the starting line-up for Michael Keane and Yerry Mina highly likely. Questions were again raised over an Everton defence that have conceded nine goals in the last three matches.
In the attacking department, Everton were toothless against a side in the relegation zone. Ancelotti opted to start Gylfi Sigurdsson in a ‘False 9’ position, before the introduction of Josh King saw Richarlison play as a striker- a role the Brazilian could start against City.
Ancelotti’s side are set to line-up in their favoured 4-3-3 formation, with Richarlison leading the line and a winger being brought in ahead of an extra central midfielder.
City have won on all three of their last visits to Goodison Park and haven’t lost against Everton in the last six fixtures.
Like Ancelotti, Guardiola is experiencing injury issues. Kevin De Bruyne, who was set to miss six weeks, could return within four weeks after the midfielder returned to training.
City look to be without in-form Ilkay Gundogan who was substituted with a tight groin after scoring twice in Saturday’s win over Spurs. Guardiola revealed tomorrow might be 'too soon' for the midfielder, meaning he may have to wait till Arsenal to re-join the squad.
Gundogan has been in fantastic form, scoring three braces in his last five league appearances, which sees him lead the way for the most goals (9) scored in Europe’s top five leagues in 2021, alongside Frankfurt’s, Andre Silva.
Manchester City have the best defensive record in the league, keeping 14 clean sheets in total and seven in their last eight league games. The centre back partnership of former Everton man, John Stones, and summer signing Ruben Dias, have transformed City’s defence after their shaky start, which saw them sit 13th after eight matches.
With the quality of City’s squad depth, and the number of fixtures within a short space of time, Guardiola may rotate. Riyad Mahrez could be seen up front with Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus- the Brazilian has scored seven times in six appearances against Everton.
Guardiola’s side should be seen in a 4-3-3 formation, with Rodri acting as the anchor to enable a heavy attacking presence.
Everton: Pickford, Godfrey, Keane, Mina, Digne, Allan, Doucoure, Sigurdsson, Rodriguez, King, Richarlison
Manchester City: Ederson, Cancelo, Stones, Dias, Zinchenko, Rodri, De Bruyne, Silva, Mahrez, Sterling, Jesus
How to Watch
The match is available on Amazon Prime Video with kick-off at 8:15pm GMT.