Manchester City will be looking for their 12th win in 13 games as they face Everton on Saturday, knowing that they can hit top spot should they better Chelsea’s result.
Despite Romelu Lukaku’s late equaliser which earned a replay with West Ham United in the FA Cup on Tuesday, Everton’s form could hardly contrast more with that of the champions, having lost their previous four Premier League matches, failing to score in three of them.
Many of the players who produced the goods so often last season are struggling to rediscover that form, and this recent run has transformed Goodison Park into an arena of anxiety. The Toffees will need their supporters fully behind them in order to upset the odds here.
Manuel Pellegrini’s men claimed victory in this fixture last season in what proved a pivotal result in their title triumph, and they have very much found their groove this time around after a somewhat slow start. And with Sergio Aguero on the brink of a return, they are set to become even more of a dangerous proposition.
One slight concern will be the manner in which they have thrown leads away in recent games against Burnley and Sunderland, suggesting there are still defensive issues to address. However, City are in good shape coming into this, and an early goal would have the home crowd on edge.
Everton have several injury problems, with Tim Howard, Sylvain Distin, Steven Pienaar, Leon Osman, James McCarthy and Darron Gibson all set to miss out.
Aguero is expected to be among the Man City substitutes, although the game may come too soon for Edin Dzeko and Vincent Kompany. Midfielder Yaya Toure is away on international duty.
See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Everton