Friday, 4 October 2013

Match Preview: Manchester City vs Everton

Does Pellegrini have the Hart to keep number one between the sticks?

By Aaron Leggott

Everton will be travelling to the Etihad Stadium for the early lunchtime kick off with realistic hopes of putting a further dent in Manchester City's title hopes. 

After Wednesday's defeat at home to Bayern Munich, City have endured a mixed start in all competitions - whilst Everton come into the game in a rich vein of form after winning all their games in September under the guidance of Roberto Martínez.

Photo: Official MCFC Facebook

It seems like the Spaniard's deadline day signings have made an immediate impact. Romelu Lukaku, James McCarthy and Gareth Barry all made the decision to move to Goodison Park - with the latter missing out tomorrow as he can't play against his parent club.

The statistics do not look kind to the Blues ahead of this particular fixture - with City only winning one of their last eight Premier League games against Everton. Of course, both managers are making their debuts in this affair and Manuel Pellegrini will be hoping to curb the trend with the help of David Silva, as the Spaniard gets ready to play his first league game since August.

Stevan Jovetić has also been declared fit to play after shaking off a minor problem, but the biggest decision that Pellegrini will have to make is whether to opt with Joe Hart or Costel Pantilimon in goal. 

That sort of statement would have been on the receiving end of raised eyebrows had it been said two years ago, but Hart's worrying lack of form - and confidence - will be in the back of Pellegrini's mind ahead of tomorrow's game.

There is no denying that despite his excellent ability as a goalkeeper, he was at serious fault for two of Bayern Munich's goals on Wednesday night - and the fact he has not conceded six goals in two games since being a teenager at Shrewsbury tells you all you need to know about his current form.

Martínez will be boosted by the news that Kevin Mirallas seems to have shaken off his ankle problem, whilst Darron Gibson and Steven Pienaar are both expected to miss out. 

Below are highlights of the previous meeting between the two sides, which saw Everton come out victorious in a 2-0 victory.

My thoughts

I didn't think Pellegrini would drop Hart tomorrow, but his words in his press conference spoke volumes about his confidence in his number one at the moment. In truth, Pantilimon is lucky to still be at the club after his outburst on the eve of the FA Cup final in May, but he has done nothing wrong since then - and after keeping a clean sheet against Wigan in the Capital One Cup 10 days ago, he will believe he deserves a call up on Saturday.

However, it will be a big test for everyone involved tomorrow, and in particular the defence. After enduring a torrid time against the Bayern Munich attack in midweek, Vincent Kompany and co. will probably not be looking forward to the prospect of Lukaku against them. At just 20, he is showing all the signs that he is set to be a world class striker - pace, power and a lethal eye for goal - Chelsea have got a great player in their ranks. I'm only really surprised that José Mourinho decided to loan him out, but that is Everton's gain.

Pellegrini will have a big task ahead in terms of his tactical selections, especially after the showing on Wednesday night. I felt he got it totally wrong against Bayern, and the fact he didn't even change it at half time was a worrying sign. Of course, the players picked also let him down but I felt he was very naive to play two strikers in a game of that magnitude.

I do believe City will come out victorious tomorrow, though. We can't afford to be dropping many more points with Arsenal looking strong up to now, and whilst Everton won't be an easy task, we have the ability to grab a win. I will be hoping to see Álvaro Negredo get a start alongside Sergio Agüero, with the Spaniard looking more than up for the challenge of the Premier League.

Prediction:  City 2 - 1 Everton

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(c) The Sky Blue View 2013

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