Goodison points imperative to Manchester City’s resurgence

Goodison points imperative to Manchester City’s resurgence

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After slipping out of the top four, Pep Guardiola’s men clawed back into contention following a narrow win against Burnley in their last Premier League match.

They are now level on points with an impressive Tottenham side and only two points behind second-placed Liverpool.

However, they will have a tough test in their next two games when they travel to Everton before hosting Spurs. The upcoming crunch tie against Spurs will mean that the Sky Blues must get a positive result at Goodison Park if they are to keep pace with the other top teams.

City have not been at their best form on home soil this season but have actually done very well away from home. Only Chelsea have taken more points on the road than the Citizens but they will not have it easy against Ronald Koeman’s Everton side. The Toffees have only lost once in their last five games, but have evidently struggled to maintain consistency throughout the campaign.

With half of the season completed, both these sides have struggled from a defensive perspective, with Everton only registering five shut-outs while City have managed one less.

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John Stones, who made the big-money move from Goodison to the Etihad, will for the first time return to his old stomping ground. The young defender has received his fair share of criticism this season and, it has to be said, rightfully so, after a series of disastrous performances.

But a goal in his last game in the FA Cup against West Ham United will do the 22-year-old a world of good.

While defending has been a problem, neither team can have many complaints in the attacking department. Romelu Lukaku and Sergio Aguero have been in fine touch, scoring 11 goals apiece, despite the latter missing a large chunk of the season through suspension.

Aguero has been a vital part of the City attack ever since he joined them and so has Lukaku for Everton. They will both need to be at the top of their game if their respective teams are to edge out a victory.

Guardiola has so far found it difficult to maintain the same form that he enjoyed with Bayern Munich and Barcelona and has admitted to the extreme difficulty in the Premier League.

Injuries and suspensions have not helped the Spaniard but with the strength in depth that his squad possesses, it should not be an excuse. A season-ending injury to Ilkay Gundogan and yet another suspension for the ill-disciplined Fernandinho will give Guardiola a few selection headaches in the middle of the park, although Fernando and Yaya Toure are adequate replacements.

The Ivorian will not travel with his side to the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) this month after announcing his retirement from international football last year.

READ MORE: How will your team be affected by the African Cup of Nations?

Everton themselves have a large squad to choose from but will be without their first-choice keeper Maarten Stekelenburg, while Koeman will also have to make adjustments in the middle of the park with the in-form Idrissa Gueye representing Senegal at the AFCON and James McCarthy also out injured.

A loss for either side could see them lose their current position in the league, which should guarantee nothing less than a feisty encounter at Goodison Park.

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