City have continued to develop this season and have 4th place pinned down now with Spurs challenge floundering in recent weeks. Looking at it objectively, City could probably had more points on the board but for the inconvenience that is the re-badged Europa league. With an FA Cup final in the bag also, City have certainly kicked on this campaign.
City Tactics and Intel
City usually adopt something between a 4-2-3-1 and 4-5-1 setup with Barry and De Jong sitting in between the defence and midfield lines restricting the space for Osman and Arteta to operate. Johnson will start on the right with the elegant David Silva the designated playmaker on the left side but cutting inside. City play a possession based game and will look to dominate play – Silva will be key to this, he has a pass completion this season of 86% (as a benchmark Iniesta weighs in at 89%) with Silva creating a goalscoring opportunity for a team-mate every 39 minutes, 6 of which have led to goals. In comparison our Spanish creator Mikel Arteta sets up a chance every 49 minutes, with 4 resulting in goals. City’s play is often manifested in sideways passing with the aim of luring the opposition onto them and thus compromising opposition shape and then advancing forward.
Defensively they are resolute with clean sheets 15 (joint top with Chelsea & Man Utd ) and with just 31 goals conceded only Chelsea can better them in terms of goals conceded. De Jong is the key man here – he is dismissed by many as a hatchet man but plays a key role in the team, making a successful tackle every 38 minutes – it was notable that City’s heaviest away defeat came at Anfield when the Dutchman was absent and City were very easy to play through. One potential weakness is at leftback where the marauding Kolorov will look to play high up field like Baines for us, so I would expect Osman to find pockets of space down his flank to exploit.
Recent form and previous meetings
The Blues have a fantastic recent record against City, winning 4 of the last 5 meetings. City are vulnerable on the road, with just 1 win and 4 goals scored on their travels this year. In contrast, Everton are unbeaten at home in the league since November and go into this one in decent form.
Everton strategy and likely line up
Our strategy would be similar to what has gone before this season, with our shape something resembling 4-2-3-1. Baines crossing has been instrumental this season – we have made more successful crosses from open play than any other side this campaign (173). Baines and Cahill have been City’s chief tormenters in recent meetings; with both slotting in the win at Eastland’s earlier this season and you would expect that if we are to get a result those two will again be instrumental. Jonny Heitinga is fit again but I think Moyes will stick with the same line up from last week, although personally I would recall Beckford at the expense of Anichebe.
The Blues will be fired up for this one after last weeks limp display against Wigan and I can see us sneaking it 1-0.