Preview: Manchester City v Everton
While many eyes will be focussed on whether Carlos Tevez leads out the City team tonight, the real importance lies in obtaining a victory that will take City to the top of the league at Christmas for the first time since 1929.
This may mean little given the games in hand of other sides, but it would be a nice psychological boost following the furore about Tevez. It also makes City appear a more attractive option as we go into the last transfer window before Financial Fair Play kicks in. It’s not long till January and the attendance of Khaldoon Al Mubarak tonight may be pertinent to that.
Having the game go ahead also reduces the danger of fixture congestion later in the season. With the temperature at kick-off set to be around -8, it’s debatable whether we’ll be able to make out Tevez and co beneath all the snoods.
Maybe Carlos will be captain, maybe it will be Kolo or Kompany. The manager is keeping his cards close to his chest. Whoever leads the team out, it’s to be hoped the side continue to play with the unity they have shown in recent weeks (Mario excepted of course).
With Nigel de Jong suspended, a reshuffle of our strongest central midfield is required. Milner or Vieira could play alongside Barry in the role they occupied in Turin. However Vieira may not have the legs to compete with Everton while Milner can lack the positional discipline. As a result it may be tempting to play Yaya with either Milner or Silva in a central creative role. If Silva is in the middle then Adam Johnson could get a start.
The return of Tevez is likely to mean the demotion of Jo from the side which won at West Ham, with Balotelli playing on the left side of attack. Right-back is the most intriguing position with Zabaleta, Richards and Boateng all having a case for starting.
With Arteta suspended and Everton not having won in seven games it’s not a bad time to play the Merseysiders. They have been a bogey side for us in recent seasons, having won on their last three visits to Eastlands without conceding a goal.
Moyes did a double over Mancini last season when Evertonian passions were running high after the saga of Joleon Lescott’s transfer. Mancini is unlikely to have forgotten those encounters and hopefully will have City fired up to prevent another disappointing result.
While the form of the Toffees isn’t great, they can still be a difficult side to break down, with a core of dependable players in the Moyes tradition. Their last away game resulted in a draw at Stamford Bridge which was nearly a victory, so we can’t afford to take them lightly. Hopefully things will go better than last season and they’ll be no repeat of Mancini’s entertaining tussle for the ball with Moyes.
“It’s important we are focused only on Everton and that the supporters are focused on Everton. We should forget this [Tevez] because we must focus on the game.”
One thing to bear in mind for anyone thinking of booing Carlos: The more you do, the more you play into the hands of Kia Joorabchian. Continuing to support our top scorer makes it easier for the club to maintain their stance, and harder for Joorabchian to force a transfer. It may not sit easily with most fans but that’s how modern football appears to work.
Blue Days line-up (4-2-3-1):
Boateng – K Toure – Kompany – Kolarov
Yaya – Barry
Silva – Milner – Balotelli
Prediction: 2-0 to City snoods.