This would have been a tightly contested affair last term, but the general consensus is that Manchester City are finally back to their best and looking to make a long-awaited title push. Such news will not be gladly received by Everton, who have struggled to make an impact on the top flight during the opening couple of months and currently sit in 11th spot.
It’s taken a long time, but it finally seems as though Manuel Pellegrini and Manchester City are back on song. Whether or not it has come too late is a different matter, but a six point margin between them and Chelsea isn’t huge if the Blues do start to slip up. City have finally found their feet in front of goal and a victory over Swansea in November seems to have sparked a revival. That was the first of a four game winning run and after also scoring ten in their last three, the omens are finally looking promising at the Etihad Stadium. Additionally, after a few wobbles at home, they’ve now won three of their last four there. Considering the fact that two of these opponents were Bayern Munich and Manchester United, it’s certainly not a bad feat.
Everton meanwhile still don’t seem to have got their season on track. There was plenty of optimism during the summer, after the Toffees invested heavily in their squad and broke their transfer record at the same time. However, this investment has not yet paid off and European qualification now seems to be something of a dream with six points separating them from 5th. On a more positive note, they have at least proven difficult to beat over recent weeks after losing just one of their last seven in the league. Their European commitments do seem to be taking their toll though, but having not played in the Europa League last week their team might be somewhat fresher than usual.
As for team news, Manchester City will welcome back Eliaquim Mangala after he was forced to miss the club’s last game due to suspension. It gets better for Manuel Pellegrini’s side in other areas as well, with Edin Dzeko and Aleksandar Kolarov both available following recent injury problems. Everton on the other hand have been handed a boost in relation to Antolin Alcaraz, who is finally back in contention after missing the last month of fixtures due to a shoulder injury. Late decisions will be made on the fitness of Bryan Oviedo and Arouna Kone, but there won’t be places for Steven Naismith and James McCarthy who are out with hamstring problems.
In terms of a prediction, we think Manchester City’s promising form will continue this week. They hold the home advantage and with Everton struggling for consistency, our tip will be a 2-1 victory for the Eithad Stadium outfit.