After convincingly beating Newcastle United in the Premier League 48 hours prior, Manchester City are in action again - this time against Everton.
Carlo Ancelotti's side sit second in the table, only three points from leaders Liverpool. A win for City would mean they could leapfrog the Toffee's into second place with a game in hand.
The Rank and Report Football Show run us through what we should be expecting from a brilliant Everton side...
Opposition Report: Everton
LEAGUE POSITION: 2nd
SEASON BREAKDOWN: 9W-2D-4L
MANAGER: Carlo Ancelotti
KEY PLAYER: Dominic Calvert-Lewin
It is safe to say that Carlo Ancelotti has been a revelation for Everton. Although he is a famous name in the world of football managers, most Evertonians would have laughed in your face if you were to tell them that he would lead them into a title race with their city rivals Liverpool at the dawn of the new year. But, that’s where he has led them after all.
The Toffee’s have won four straight league games - their first time doing so since their last league title, a brutal 33 years ago. The off-season rebuild of the midfield has been the catalyst to this tremendous start after 15 games. The signings of Allan, Abdoulaye Doucouré and James Rodriguez have revolutionised the squad. Not to mention English youngster Dominic Calvert-Lewin has bagged a team high 11 goals (second in the golden boot race) - a staggering eight more than the Toffee him on that list.
While the midfield and attack have brought this famous club near the top, perhaps it is their leaky defence that has them in second, not first.
The Everton Threat
Everton are a dangerous team to play against, no matter the opponent. Ancelotti’s men have scored two more goals in all but five games in all competitions this year. The forward duo of Richarlison and the aforementioned Calvert-Lewin have been a handful for all Premier League defences this season. Gylfi Sigurdsson has shown he hasn’t lost his ability to ping shots from outside the box and into the back of the net. Lucas Digne leads the team in assists from left-back, however he is sidelined with an ankle injury for at least two more months.
Abdoulaye Doucouré is a powerful midfielder who drives with the ball and can pick a pass. Unfortunately for Doucouré, his two world class running mates Allan and James Rodriguez will miss a chunk of games in December and January due to injury. Those misses won't eliminate Everton’s threat however. Alex Iwobi has proved a solid servant on the left, pitching in with a couple of assists himself.
Set pieces have also been favourable to the Merseysiders this season. Centre-backs Yerry Mina, Michael Keane and Mason Holgate have all scored.
How to Threaten Everton
As previously mentioned, Everton’s leaky defence has been their achilles heel so far this season. Their four clean sheets in the league mid table but around one third of their conceded goals came after 75 minutes.
If Manchester City can stay solid in defence for most of the game, Everton could give up late chances. If Sterling and co can be clinical, they should take all three points from Everton.
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