Manchester City started the season like a whirlwind of sparkling football and bank-notes but the stalemate at Fulham showed that theyâ€™re still far from infallible.
Thereâ€™s no getting away from the fact if City are at their very best, coming away from Eastlands with all three points is about as likely as Fernando Torres finishing an open goal, but events at the Cottage showed us that for all their spending and recruitment, the defence is still occasionally vulnerable and they needed a couple of excellent interventions from Joe Hart to hang on to a point.
Itâ€™s going to take a very good Everton performance to contain whatever combination of expensive stars Roberto Mancini decides to field, but it is possible. It will require relentless work rate, a dash of opportunism and the sort of â€˜flurry of hair and tackling midfield destroyerâ€™ performance from Mo Fellaini that disrupts supply to Aguero, Dzeko or whoever finds Manciniâ€™s favour on Saturday morning. And if Tim Howard brings his top form, that wouldnâ€™t hurt either.
Like a Russian spy planted in the middle of the Washington DC, the Citizens have spent a lot of time and even more money trying to convince the outside world of their â€˜historyâ€™, but on this occasion a look through the record books doesnâ€™t do them much favours. The Toffees have a sparkling recent history against City and have won no less than 7 of their last 10 meetings. What makes that even more impressive is that since the money started being thrown around casually like Joey Bartonâ€™s George Orwell references, the record is comparatively even stronger. Since the arrival of the Sheikh and days of ill-advised transfer fees in 2008, Everton have won 5 out of 6 meetings and won 4 out of 4 in the last 2 seasons. David Moyes seems to have the knack of upsetting Manciniâ€™s system and heâ€™ll need it more than ever against this improved version of City.
Everton are clearly well equipped to break down City. Their delivery from set-pieces should give the City defence a thorough examination and theyâ€™ve got the movement and legs to make life difficult on the ground too. Whilst the win over Wigan wasnâ€™t one of the most majestic in the history of the club, it was effective and was enough to claim all three points with even more room for improvement. The Toffees have had little trouble getting on the scoresheet against City of late and maybe thoughts of make it five in a row arenâ€™t misplaced. Everton are 7/1 to win the match and thatâ€™s the sort of price that will appeal to a constituency of people beyond the blindly optimistic. Thereâ€™s even a bit of value on offer if you fancy the Toffees to claim a more modest result with the draw rated a 7/2 chance.
Leighton Baines at 22/1 looks a fantastic bet for first goalscorer and the 7/1 for him to score at anytime doesnâ€™t look too shabby either. Heâ€™ll more than likely get a few opportunities to test Joe Hart and whether itâ€™s scoring himself or providing assists, heâ€™s sure to have a big influence on the game.
And if Aguero score two or more goals in this game, Paddy Power will refund all losing 1st /last goalscorer, correct score & scorecast singles on the match. But letÂ´s hope it doesnÂ´t come to that…