The Premier League champions are brooding.
Knocked off the top of the summit after a first league defeat of the campaign was a blow enough.
But it also showed us fans that Pep Guardiola’s men are far from invincible, particularly when the impressive trio of Sergio Aguero, Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva are all missing.
Silva has been ruled out for the next few weeks with a hamstring injury and, with Aguero not guaranteed to return in time for the visit of Everton, this could be a tricky encounter.
It certainly wasn’t a given last season when Wayne Rooney continued his fine scoring record against Manchester City in his only second game since returning to his boyhood club.
That game ended in a pulsating 1-1 draw but much has changed since then.
City have gone onto be the main headline act in Premier League 2018 news, setting new records en route, while the Toffees have gone up and down and had two different managers.
They are an exciting prospect to see develop under Marco Silva, just as they were under Ronald Koeman when this fixture was played last season.
Lucas Digne about to score a goal against Watford
However, despite some encouraging showings in recent weeks they have only taken points from their last three league matches and required a last-gasp free-kick from Lucas Digne to rescue a point against Watford earlier in the week.
While theirs is a work in progress, City are a work of art when at their finest and, despite the likely absence of their three best players, start as overwhelming favourites.
Leroy Sane scored twice in a 2-1 Champions League success over Hoffenheim in midweek, a victory which sealed top spot in Group F.
The average age of City’s starting XI in that match was 24 years and 95 days, the youngest for an English side in the Champions League since Manchester United against CFR Cluj in December 2012 (24 years 54 days).
In defence, there is also concern that John Stones might be added to the injury list after he felt discomfort in a knee in midweek and was replaced at half-time by Kyle Walker.
Guardiola suggested it was precautionary, but he can ill afford to lose another player before the Christmas schedule.
Despite all that, a look at the substitutes bench spoke volumes for the strength and talent of the expensively-assembled squad at Guardiola’s disposal and they are clearly favourites for the title.
The incentive to return to top spot in this one – for a day at least – will surely be too much for the spirited Toffees.
Top of Form
Everton remain without a win at Manchester City since December 2010 yet last season’s 1-1 draw at the Etihad Stadium was the third successive draw between the sides at the ground.
Then Rooney’s opener was cancelled out by a late Gabriel Jesus equaliser in a match in which both sides finished with 10 men – the hosts played the entire second half a man down.
It was also 1-1 two seasons ago when Romelu Lukaku put the visitors in front before Nolito equalised for Guardiola’s men.
It was a goalless draw the season before that.
City did get the better of Everton at home in 2016, however. They won the League Cup semi-final second leg 3-1 (4-3 on aggregate) thanks to a late Aguero goal to seal a place in the Wembley final where they beat Merseyside neighbours Liverpool in a penalty shoot-out.
The overall history in this fixture could hardly be closer. City have 69 wins to Everton’s 68 victories with 47 meetings ending all square.
Their most recent meeting came last Easter at Goodison Park when City were unstoppable on their way to a 3-1 success and the title.
The match was won at the break after first half goals from Sane, Jesus and Sterling with Yannick Bolasie netting the home side’s second half consolation.
||Manchester City vs Everton
||Over 3.75 Goals Over Under @ 2.20
|December 15, 2018 20:30 (GMT+8)
The Premier League 2018 betting odds would have you believe this will be a one-sided contest.
1X2 odds have City @ just 1.23 with Everton as far out as @ 12.00.
Even the draw is a seemingly unlikely @ 5.80.
If Asian Handicap betting is your preferred option then a tempting offer is Man City -2.00 @ 2.05 with Everton +1.75 @ 2.17.
As for a repeat of the last two meetings in this stadium, correct score 1-1 may tempt you @ 13.50.
Goals are certainly expected judging by the little difference in total goal 2-3 @ 2.37 and total goal 4-6 @ 2.17.
Place your bets – although I have been wrong before!
|A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR () BETS ARE WORTH:
| = €20 (Highly confident)
|| = €10 (CONFIDENT)
|| = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.
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