Roberto Mancini will look to make it five wins in five matches in today’s late kick off at Goodison Park (17:30 GMT). City could give further opportunities to the likes of Garrido, Benjani and Petrov due to an ever thinning squad, despite their millions.
Following Mondays 4-1 home win against Blackburn, a host of selection problems and the midweek Carling Cup Semi Final looming; perhaps David Moyes’ side will be a sterner test for Mancini’s side. Everton come into this fixture following a much improved run of performances, most recently an unlucky draw against Arsenal at the Emirates. However Moyes has selection problems of his own and will have Lucas Neill available, despite agreeing a move to Galatasaray yesterday, in order to suppress the threat of Carlos Tevez.
Tevez struck a hat-trick against Blackburn on Monday, making it 15 goals so far this season and has been in sparkling form. He has now scored ten goals in his last seven Premier League games, coming from a player whom Sir Alex Ferguson stated “does not get enough goals”, following his move across Manchester. Roberto Mancini has heaped praise on the Argentinean forward this week, stating that on current form, he is one of the “top strikers in Europe”.
The Italian could be without up to ten first team players, including Robinho, Ireland and Santa Cruz, with Patrick Vieira unlikely to feature due to a niggling calf injury. Emmanuel Adebayor stated that he is “Still unsure” as to when he will return to England, following the machine gun attack on his Togo team bus last week however, Mancini has given him indefinite compassionate leave and does not expect the 6 goal striker to return for several weeks, contrary to midweek reports.
Manchester City will also be without Kolo Toure, who has stayed on International duty with the Ivory Coast, who were the first team to qualify for the knock out stages with a 3-1 win over Ghana, with Chelsea’s Didier Drogba getting on the score sheet. Defensively, they will could also miss Onuoha, who will face a late fitness test (calf) and Wayne Bridge is out with a knee injury. Joleon Lescott will not get the opportunity to return to his former club, as he is also struggling with a strain.
David Moyes is not without his selection problems; however will take comfort in the knowledge that City have only beaten Everton once at Goodison in the league since 1992.
Yakubu and Yobo are on international duty and injury wise Rodwell, Jagielka, Anichebe and Arteta are all certain to miss out. Sylvain Distin is struggling for fitness after straining his hamstring, however will face a late fitness test to determine whether he will face the club he played for 178 times. Landon Donovan will be in contention for his first home fixture, following his loan move from the MLS however, Brazilian striker Jo, on a season long loan from City is not eligible but was unlikely to be selected after being fined for taking unauthorised leave.
Despite the encouraging performance against Arsenal last week, Everton have only won three games at home so far this season but have slowly climbed away from the relegation zone after an unbeaten run of nine games. Toffees fans will hope to see a return to the cutting edge that they showed against the Gunners and a win today would put them in the top half.
City on the other hand could cement their place in the top four come the close of play today; however it is almost certain that Mancini will have one eye on the Manchester United fixture. In both sides last two fixtures combined, there were 11 goals, so clean sheets appear unlikely and this tie could rest on two former United strikers in Saha and Tevez.
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