- Adwitya Jha
Everything you need to know, Predicted XI – Manchester City vs Everton Preview
Manchester City's victory over Leeds took them to within five points of leaders Arsenal, and their New Year's eve schedule sees them square up against Everton at the Etihad Stadium. City's game kicks off before Arsenal's tricky trip down south against Brighton, and Pep Guardiola's side will look to pile on the pressure on the leaders with a victory at home. The game kicks off at 15:00 GMT on New Year's Eve.
Guardiola was given a pleasant surprise by his Argentine World Cup winner Julian Alvarez as he returned to training today earlier than he was scheduled to arrive. Guardiola had mentioned in his press conference earlier that he expected Alvarez to be back after the Everton fixture, but his early return adds an extra edge to City's already imperious attack.
Ruben Dias remains sidelined with the injury he picked up in the World Cup, but City have an otherwise fully fit squad to call upon for their clash against the blue of Merseyside.
The midweek fixture away at Elland Road saw Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva start from the bench; both should be back into the starting XI after a deserved rest. Jack Grealish had an eventful game, to say the least, as he turned around his game by providing a couple of assists in the second half, after a torrid first half which saw him miss a couple of gilt-edged chances to score. Leeds are a team which try to press more, which may have prompted Guardiola to opt for the control that Grealish offers, but with Everton potentially sitting back for most of the game, the Catalan might decide to start with Foden for this game.
The midweek fixture saw Rodri come to the rescue as his goal broke the deadlock right at the stroke of half-time, which changed the complexion of the second half to come. Rodri has been a metronome in City's midfield, but after a hectic World Cup, City will be hoping that Kalvin Phillips can be ready to deputise in his place whenever needed to avoid any injuries to the Spanish heartbeat of City's midfield. Phillips was openly criticised for his fitness by Guardiola, but he seems to be on the right path with the manager acknowledging the same, and his inclusion on the bench for the Leeds game is further proof that he is ready to be called upon whenever needed.
Erling Haaland carried on in his quest of breaking records as he absolutely annihilated the previous record of fastest to 20 Premier League goals, which he managed to achieve in a meagre 14 games, while the previous record stood at 21 games. Even with the return of Alvarez, Haaland is expected to start the game as he eyes down the record of the highest goals scored in a Premier League season.
Ederson; Ake, Stones, Akanji, Walker; Rodri, Gundogan, De Bruyne; Foden, Haaland, Bernardo
After a last-gasp defeat at the hands of Wolves in their previous fixture, Everton will pose a tricky test to City this Saturday. Rayan Ait-Nouri's goal in the fifth minute of added time saw Everton lose to Wolves, a game which saw them take the lead in the seventh minute of the game through Yerry Mina.
Everton sit in a precarious situation, just one point above the drop zone, with them being winless in their last four games, losing all of their last three fixtures in the league. After last season's miraculous escape from relegation, Frank Lampard's work this season seems to have multiplied in complication.
Everton have a boost in terms of their squad as they welcome back their lead striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin after a spell on the sidelines due to a hamstring injury. The English striker has barely featured for Everton this season due to an injury-ravaged season, but his quality was not lost on Guardiola as he described him as a 'dangerous player'.
"On top, he's exceptional, long balls, second balls. He's a dangerous player."
City have absolutely dominated Everton in their previous ten meetings, as they've won all ten with an aggregate score of 27-5.
The previous meeting between the two sides was a rather tense affair, as City needed a late goal from Foden to take them over the line at Goodison Park. The game also saw a controversial handball call against Rodri, which went in the favour of the Spaniard, which in the end, turned out to be a pivotal moment in last season's title race.
Everton have been hit for eight goals in their previous two trips to the Etihad, with two of those scored by Sergio Kun Aguero, in his final Premier League appearance for City, which saw a fairytale ending for the City great as he lifted the Premier League trophy after the game.
Referee: Andy Madley
Assistants: Simon Bennett & Timothy Wood
Fourth Official: Josh Smith
VAR: Lee Mason
Assistant VAR: Nick Hopton
Written by: @adwitya16
Follow our Twitter account for reliable, live updates on all the latest news and everything Manchester City in real time.