Preview: Manchester City v Everton

Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City will be targeting a return to winning ways when a stuttering Everton visit the Etihad Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Premier League
15 October 2016
Matchday 8
Kick-off: 21H00 HKT
Venue: Etihad Stadium

Referee: M. Oliver
Assistants: G. Beswick, S. Burt
Fourth official: A. Taylor

Head-to-head summary:

Manchester City 164 63 42 59
Everton 164 59 42 63

Previous encounter:

Manchester City 3-1 Everton 27/01/16 (Premier League)

Manchester City goalscorers: Fernandinho (24′), K. De Bruyne (70′), S. Aguero (76′)

Everton goalscorer: R. Barkley (18′)

Players to watch:

Sergio Aguero remains City’s main man with 11 goals in eight outings this season, including five in five Premier League matches, meaning Everton will have to keep him quiet to get anything out of this game.

John Stones, meanwhile, returns to his former club for the first time since his £47.5 million move, and is expected to line up in defence alongside Nicolas Otamendi where he has excelled. City have conceded seven goals in their seven games played, which is only the fourth best defensive record, although they have scored more goals than anyone else, bar Liverpool, with both sides on 18.

And supporting Aguero in attack is the ever-lively Jesus Navas, who along with David Silva will be needed to provide the assists for their goal-getter, with Kevin de Bruyne an injury doubt.

Romelu Lukaku has, meanwhile, been exceptional for Everton, and looks a man reborn, with five goals in six games this term, and will have to be closely monitored if City are to stop him from adding a sixth.

Lukaku hasn’t done it all himself, though, and Yannick Bolasie and Ross Barkley should line up alongside the Belgian hitman as part of a front three for Ronald Koeman’s side.

Team form and manager quotes:

Manchester City started the season like a house on fire under new manager Pep Guardiola as they stormed to the top of the Premier League standings with a 100 per cent record – until they met their match in Tottenham, dropping their first league points in a 2-0 loss at White Hart Lane.

City’s only other dropped points came the week before as they were held to a 3-3 draw by Celtic in the Champions League.

Everton, meanwhile, made their best ever start to a Premier League season under new boss Ronald Koeman, although recent results have subsequently gone against the Toffees, who lost 1-0 to Bournemouth before a 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace.

They are still flying high in fifth place, with 14 points – just four points adrift of the league leaders.

Heading into what is expected to be a very tough test, Toffees boss Koeman said: “Normally, for every team, it’s a big impact, how your defence is. But it’s not just the four defenders. Defence starts in front and we need to run and we need to press.

“That’s the way we like to play football. It’s not possible to do that for 95 minutes but we like to press our opponents and I think that team work together is also influential in not conceding a lot of goals.

“They’ve made a very good start. Maybe not the last week before the international break but it’s impressive the way that they play football. I watched City against Gladbach in the Champions League live and it was very [impressive] to see the difference between how they play this season and how they played last season.”

Guardiola told reporters at a City press conference: “All the players are much better. Some will play tomorrow, some will not. We’ll have to think about it this afternoon.

“(Sagna) went away for two weeks with France and got injured. Aguero is good mentally. We need to be tough mentally to be ready if we have a bad performance or lose.

“The way I want the players to win is the way I believe. The way you play depends on the players. But the fundamentals are the same.

“Tomorrow is the most important game. I’m not thinking about the game after. The best approach is to win tomorrow.”

Team news:

For City, Kevin de Bruyne will face a late fitness test to determine if he has sufficiently overcome a hamstring injury that has kept him sidelined since 24 September.

Vincent Kompany (groin) has returned to training but is still some way off a return, while Bacary Sagna is ruled out with a hamstring injury.

For Everton, Romelu Lukaku, Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines have all recovered from their respective injuries to be considered for this weekend’s tie.

Lukaku and Jagielka suffered minor thigh injuries on international duty, while Baines struggled to overcome a hamstring problem he suffered three weeks ago.

Darron Gibson will also be in contention following successful groin surgery, but James McCarthy (fatigue) and Aaron Lennon (dead leg) remain injury doubts.