It makes you wonder if the key to success for Everton is giving David Moyes as small a squad as possible.
With at least a quarter of the players being in various stages of recovery from injuries which will flare up as soon as they’ve returned and played a few games.
Perhaps if you gave him an unlimited budget for players and wages he wouldn’t fare so well. A man who thrives in the pressure of paucity, flourishes in a famine but piles on the pounds and is crippled by gout when given everything he desires. There probably isn’t even the thinnest shred of truth in these ponderings but Everton’s current form stands as a testament to the resilience and ability of the manager and players alike. Even with the long list of injuries and playing a team which will be in the Champions League next season and has cost hundreds of millions to assemble, Everton are a great bet to get the win at 9/5.
With Cahill and Arteta now back in the mix it wasn’t that much healthier a squad which went to Manchester in December and took all three points. Plus they played the last thirty minutes with ten men, had to contend with Carlos Tevez, by far City’s best attacking player, and the goal they conceded was a Jagielka og. There were plenty of nervy moments at the back for Everton but City were unable to find a way through. Something they’ve struggled with all season. Over the last eight league games they’ve only scored more than one goal on two occasions. The five they got against a hapless Sunderland side which had lost six of its previous seven league matches, and the two goals they scored against bottom placed West Ham last weekend. Only Aston Villa has scored more than one goal in Everton’s last eleven games in all competitions so you’d fancy Moyes’ side to keep the score down. Under 2.5 goals is odds-on at 4/6 for a reason.
Everton have won six of the last seven meetings between the teams and City have failed to score in five of them, making Everton to keep a clean sheet at 23/10 a very tempting price.
Tim Cahill, though playing through some pain, is still worth a bet to score first at 7/1 or at anytime at 12/5. The Australian has scored in Everton’s last two meetings with City and has three in his last five games against them. Leighton Baines has scored three penalties in Everton’s last five games and Everton’s player of the season is a good price at 7/1 to score anytime.
The visitors are sitting comfortably seven points clear of Liverpool and Spurs and could afford to lose this game. That will hardly be their aim but if Everton can prevent City’s creative players getting too much time on the ball, they’ll start to lose their shape and struggle ideas. So keep David Silva quiet and stop Yaya Toure’s venturing runs. A little luck may be needed too but a solid Everton performance and that 9/5 on them to win could prove one of the bets of the weekend.