City aim to heap more woes on Goodison faithful
By Aaron Leggott
After last Saturday's calamitous defeat at home to Wigan, Everton go into this game knowing that their chances of European qualification are extremely slim.
With the FA Cup semi final draw pitting City against Chelsea or Manchester United and Wigan against Milwall, it means that Europa League qualification will only be rewarded in the Premier League to the side that finishes 5th.
And on recent form, it is unlikely that Everton will be sitting in that position come May. With Liverpool coming into some great form ahead of the run in and Arsenal also in the mix for the fight to Europe, you'd be a brave man to back David Moyes' side now.
So, with 11 years without a trophy... is this really good enough for Everton? The myth that they are on a penniless budget is exactly that and the Toffee's record against the big boys is nothing short of awful.
One side that they have a habit of beating on a regular occasion is ourselves, and after a damaging result last weekend, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Everton revert to 'cup final' mentality.
But City will be boosted by the news that both Tim Howard and Phil Jagielka miss out because of back and ankle injuries respectively, with Jan Mucha and John Heitinga expected to replace them.
There will be some promising signs on the injury front for Roberto Mancini's side, with Sergio Aguero and Vincent Kompany expected to take late fitness tests. Kompany has missed the last seven games with a recurring calf problem.
With only one win in seven Premier League games against Everton, I don't think anyone involved with City is under any illusions that this will be an extremely difficult game.
In fact, Everton have lost just two of their last 17 in all competitions at Goodison Park so if we do win, it will be a great result.
It is an impressive stat and Everton would be higher if it weren't for their inability to finish off games. They have drawn 12 games this season, a joint high in the league.
But with City's recent form and the fact that anything but a win is not good enough, I think we will produce a performance capable of taking home all three points on Saturday afternoon.
Hopefully Carlos Tevez and Aguero will both start together in attack and put pressure upon the arguable weak link in Everton's defence - John Heitinga.
He was continuously troubled by Arouna Kone during Wigan's FA Cup victory last weekend and if we channel our attacks through him then I believe we can score two or three goals.
Prediction: 2-1 to City
Ahead of the game, I spoke to Everton fan Ryan Gordon and his thoughts on Everton, David Moyes and the upcoming game against the teams.
The last meeting between the sides ended in a 1-1 draw at the Etihad. Do you think Everton can repeat this feat or perhaps even grab a win considering recent results between the two sides?
Ryan: Given our recent good record against Man City and the fact that we've only lost two league games at Goodison in a year, we can be optimistic going into this. It'll be tight, it always is!
What do you make of Everton's season so far?
Ryan: After our unusual good start to the season, I think it's fair to say all optimism gathered during the first few months has now gone. In December I truly believed we were strong contenders for 4th. We crashed out the cup in the worst possible manner (un-Everton like) last week and have recently been overtaken by Liverpool in the league. Not killing teams off and an out of form Nikica Jelavic are the main reasons for our slip down the table although failing to strengthen in January has held us back in my opinion.
What is your opinion of David Moyes as manager and do you believe he will sign a new contract?
Ryan: David Moyes has turned us into a top eight side and has worked wonders considering the money (or lack of) available. For me, it's impossible not to appreciate what he's done but I dislike the fact he sees 40 points and keeping Everton in the Premier League an achievement. His over-cautious approach has meant that in 49 away league games to Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool, he is yet to muster one win.
To put it short, he bottles the big occasion and isn't the best tactically. I don't think it's fair holding the club at ransom either as it's clearly having an effect on the pitch and is doing exactly what he criticized a certain Joleon Lescott for doing back in 2009. I think he'll go at the end of the season, it's time for fresh ideas.
Who would you say is Everton's danger man on Saturday that City should be keeping an eye on?
Ryan: I'm going to avoid picking Marouane Fellaini because I think we all know what's doing when on song. I'll tell you a bit about his compatriot Kevin Mirallas who is probably the only one who can keep his head held high after Saturday's mauling.
|Danger man: City will need to watch out for the Belgian attacker|
We signed him from Olympiacos in the summer and injuries have stopped him from getting a consistent run in the side. He will play on Saturday though and I'm sure Kompany will be letting Zabaleta, Nastasic and co. to be wary of him. He's quick, direct and can score/create goals. He's probably the only player in our team that can beat a man and he is definitely one to watch.
And who do you think is City's key player?
Ryan: Only one answer for me, David Silva. I know he can go missing in games but he is a little magician and we have to stop him picking a pass to the likes of Zabaleta who is like a yo-yo down the right hand side!
And finally.. prediction for the game?
Ryan: My prediction is a hard fought 2-1 win. I just think we have to get a reaction and we enjoy the big games at Goodison. COYB!
Thanks to Ryan for taking the time out to answer the questions and I wish you luck for the rest of the season (apart from on Saturday, obviously!!)