Can Everton get something from City game

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 06: Ilkay Gundogan of Manchester City beats Richarlison of Everton FC during the Premier League match between Everton FC and Manchester City at Goodison Park on February 06, 2019 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 06: Ilkay Gundogan of Manchester City beats Richarlison of Everton FC during the Premier League match between Everton FC and Manchester City at Goodison Park on February 06, 2019 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images) /

Everton take on champions Manchester City in their next Premier League fixture this Saturday.

On paper this game is just about the last one Everton would want given the poor form they have shown in the league in recent weeks.

The Blues have lost their last two Premier League games conceding five goals in the process. The Toffees have been very poor and have certainly let the fans down badly in these games.

A match with the champions, who put eight past a hapless Watford in their last game, is therefore in theory a frightening prospect.

However it might be that this sort of game is just what Everton need. Playing at home against one of the top sides in recent times has tended to bring out the best in the Toffees play.

I’m not saying it will necessarily be the case on Saturday, but the Blues have tended to reserve their best for these type of matches.

Coming up against the better sides, Everton have been able to up their game at Goodison Park.

Last season after losing 0-2 to City back in February, the Toffees drew with Liverpool, (crucial in stopping them winning the title!), and went on to beat Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United at the grand old lady.

In fact that defeat against City last season, was the first sign that the Blues were starting to improve after a really shaky Christmas and New Year.

Defensively Everton were finally finding a settled back four and the combination of Michael Keane and Kurt Zouma at centre-back, was starting to pay dividends.

That partnership eventually helped the Toffees eradicate the loose defending that had plagued Everton’s football for most of that season and particularly the regular conceding of soft set-piece goals.

And this point brings me back to the most worrying aspect of the Blues current malaise.

Once again this term Everton are letting in too many goals from set-pieces, something that the manager, his coaches and the players themselves seem unable to eradicate.

On the plus side City are not a set-piece team and don’t score many goals from that route. So it’s a weakness the Toffees might not have exposed much by these opponents.

Of course playing City is still a daunting task. The champions have a multitude of weapons in attack and when they click are almost impossible to contain.

The traditional approach to take against sides that dominate the ball and possession the way City do, is to be very organised, defend deeply and get as many men behind the ball as possible – and hope it works.

However recently some teams have taken a more adventurous approach, taking on City with a high-tempo pressing game. The most recent example of this was Norwich City’s superb 3-2 win over them.

Manchester City’s game is built on their ability to control the ball and the pace and tempo of their games and therefore their defence is rarely put under any sustained pressure by opponents.

Teams that can get enough possession and use it quickly and effectively, can sometimes expose City’s vulnerability at the back. Liverpool have been very successful doing this of course.

This is particular relevant given that the Etihad side are missing one of the most important players; centre-half Aymeric Laporte.

The French defender has become essential to City over the past twelve months or so. His injury earlier in the season has damaged City’s defensive resilience and prospects this season.

The Blues need to be at their very best against these opponents, start quickly, play with real pace and energy and critically take any chances they do have.

So given all this, who should start for the Toffees this weekend?

While the defence is perhaps the most concerning aspect of the team, Everton have also been lacklustre and very inconsistent in attack.

There were good signs in the League cup win over Sheffield Wednesday when the Blues began quickly and scored two early goals to take control.

In particular the team Marco Silva picked included Bernard coming back onto the left of the attack and Alex Iwobi playing through the middle, something I’ve been advocating for some time.

Iwobi’s driving runs and his willingness to get beyond the centre-forward, were key to the Toffee’s best and most dangerous attacking play.

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Another question is who should play up front. My instinct is to go with Moise Kean despite DCL’s goals on Tuesday. I feel the Italian needs game time to find his feet in the Premier League.

I think both should start again in those roles on Saturday. I would also say that Djibril Sidibe should get the nod over Seamus Coleman at right-back.

Sidibe was good on the ball hitting some superb cross-field passes. He offers more creativity than Coleman and provides another wide outlet apart from Lucas Digne. On the downside, defensively he did make a few errors and will need to avoid doing that against City!

At the very least let’s please see a marked improvement in the Blues performance and who knows maybe they can get a result..?