Everton vs. Manchester City: keys to the match

By Michael Kranewitter (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 at (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/at/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Michael Kranewitter (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 at (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/at/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons /

One of the biggest tests in the Premier League is forthcoming for Everton, as title-challengers Manchester City travel to Goodison on Sunday.

Manchester City, after losing consecutive matches to Chelsea and Leicester, have won four of five matches, including a 2-1 win against Arsenal at the Etihad. City, as you’d expect from a team challenging for the title, don’t have many weaknesses.

But they are by no means perfect.

Everton must key on the slight chinks in City’s armour to have a chance of winning on Sunday. So, what are the aforementioned chinks?

Let’s take a look.

Claudio Bravo’s weak punches

Whether Claudio Bravo is merely having trouble adapting to the Premier League or isn’t cut out for the most physical league in the world remains to be seen.

But one thing is for sure: he can’t punch a ball worth a damn.

Nor does he command his area on aerial balls. He doesn’t exude confidence and looks weak in aerial challenges, which the Toffees will surely try take advantage of.

Everton should test Bravo early and often from crosses. And they have Romelu Lukaku, the perfect weapon, to trouble the shaky and susceptible Bravo. Lukaku’s size, power and aerial prowess can, and should, cause Bravo fits.

His confidence shaken, the 33-year-old keeper is definitely rattled and looks unable to cope with any physicality whatsoever.

City away from home

Sometimes it feels like grasping at straws when trying to find weaknesses in the City team. While City are still excellent away from home, three of their four losses have come in unfriendly environments.

Losing two of  their last three away from home, City are in the midst of a poor run. Pep Guardiola’s side failed to score at Anfield last time out and allowed four goals against struggling Leicester in early December.

Their form isn’t much better if you look back further either, as City have lost three of seven road fixtures.

John Stones, 22, is still very young, especially for a center back playing at one of the world’s most highly touted clubs. Consequently, he’s still susceptible to errors and probably doesn’t have the utmost confidence in his keeper, whose shot-stopping ability has also come into question this season, and his ability to bail the former Blues center back out of trouble.

Match prediction

It’s an exciting day for Everton supporters and anyone associated or linked to the club. Morgan Schneiderlin will make his Toffees’ debut and make no mistake about it, the Goodison Park faithful will be in full voice.

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Everton must push the tempo and press high against an inconsistent City defence. If they start well, test Bravo early and get Schneiderlin many early touches, Everton have a great chance of making it a frustrating afternoon for City.

Look for the Toffees to replicate their performance at City earlier this season and take a share of the spoils in a hard-fought, well-deserved draw.