Everton will face a tough task in attempting to bounce back from defeat when they welcome Premier League leaders Manchester City to Goodison Park on Wednesday.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side have struggled with consistency at times this season, something encapsulated by the weekend’s league defeat to relegation-threatened Fulham – a result which came just days after a pulsating 5-4 FA Cup win over Tottenham Hotspur.
If Everton are to finish in the Champions League places this season, they will need to avoid slip ups like Sunday.
However, there is no doubt that Manchester City will place in the top 4 come the season’s end – City sit at the Premier League summit with a 7-point buffer to closest challengers Manchester United and the general consensus is that it is now their title to lose.
Everton’s challenge of returning to winning ways could not have been against a more difficult opponent. Pep Guardiola’s side have won the last 5 games against Everton in the top flight and are currently on a streak of 9 away wins in a row – part of a run which has seen them victorious 16 consecutive times in all competitions – a new record.
The Toffees shouldn’t be written off, however. Despite City’s excellent record against the Merseysiders in recent times, Carlo Ancelotti’s side have shown on plenty of occasions this campaign they are capable of doing damage.
Everton’s main weapon has been Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who was missing against Fulham and will also sit out Wednesday’s game with Manchester City.
Boss Carlo Ancelotti suggested in his pre-match press conference that the striker could be back in time for the weekend’s Merseyside Derby with Liverpool, though.
More positive news from the Everton camp is that Jordan Pickford and James Rodriguez are believed to have recovered from their respective knocks and Ancelotti could include them in the matchday squad.
For Manchester City, Ilkay Gundogan has been a key performer in their scintillating run of wins but the Germany international is not fit for the game at Goodison Park.
Pep Guardiola confirmed to the press that the midfielder’s groin injury will keep him out of action until the weekend at the earliest.
Fernandinho and Nathan Ake are also definite absentees with injury, but it has been confirmed that Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero have both returned to training in recent days and could return to the side soon.
Everton v Manchester City is an 8.15pm kick off on Wednesday 17th February.