Kevin Mirallas is back to 100% fitness according to Roberto Martinez (Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)
Everton are back at Goodison Park and under the glare of the live TV cameras again for the visit of Manchester City and a match that has taken on an entirely different complexion from the Blue point of view in the wake of last weekend's stunning 3-0 win at Southampton.
Following a summer of frustratingly limited transfer activity and the disappointing 2-2 draw against Watford in the season-opener two weeks ago, the run of fixtures that would see Everton take on all of last season's top eight sides before the end of October looked even more daunting. Now, however, in the context of the performance at the St Mary's Stadium, the horizons of possibility have broadened a little; not too much stock should be put in one match but it at least lays down a marker for how Roberto Martinez's side can play.
It was a timely display because City, having fallen short last term of the standards they set in their title-winning season in 2013-14, have started this campaign in blistering fashion, taking six points from six in their opening two games, and not only firing six goals without reply but blitzing reigning Champions Chelsea in the process. The Everton that left the field after the Watford game to vocal disillusionment from the terraces might have approached this Sunday's game with a good deal of trepidation but with that win over the Saints under their belt, there should be plenty of self-belief coursing through their veins.
Martinez will be bolstered by the return to full fitness of Kevin Mirallas following a heavy ankle knock sustained on the opening day. He was included on the bench last Saturday but was not needed and, together with Gerard Deulofeu who only made a late cameo in the Southampton game, he will have benefited from an extra week's rest.
Whether either wide man will start, however, will largely come down either to how the manager approaches the visit of Manchester City in terms of formation or whether he will feel the need to reward the likes of Arouna Kone for his impact in both matches so far. Martinez has used a deceptively defensive-looking 4-5-1 line-up against the top teams like Arsenal and Manchester United but employed a counter-attacking strategy to soak up pressure and then pick the opposition off on the break.
Martinez hasn't been able to find a winning formula against the blue half of Manchester, however. Thanks to a rampaging goal typical of Romelu Lukaku's own first season at Everton, the Catalan's side took the lead at the Etihad in early October 2013 but ended up losing 3-1 and would give up a lead handed them by Ross Barkley's spectacular opener in the reverse fixture as well to lose 3-2. Last season's 1-1 draw secured by Steven Naismith's equaliser represents the only point the Blues have picked up against City under Martinez so it will be interesting to see how he approaches this one.
For his part, Lukaku appears to be in bullish mood following his brace at the St Mary's and Barkley is also off to an excellent start with two goals to his name already as well. Both are likely to start, with one of Mirallas or Kone likely to form the final prong in a three-point attack, and it would not be surprising to see the rest of the line-up unchanged, with Brendan Galloway continuing at left back in the absence of the injured Leighton Baines.
Whatever shape and selection he goes with, Martinez's side face what could ultimately be one of its most difficult tests on home soil all season. They have lost reserve firepower with the departures of Edin Dzeko and Stefan Jovetic while Pablo Zabaleta has been ruled out through injury but Sergio Aguero looks sharp and hungry, Yaya Toure has banished talk that he is too far over the hill to influence City's quest to regain the title, David Silva has lost none of his creative brilliance and ex-red Raheem Sterling has plenty to prove on his first return to Merseyside.
It promises to be a stern examination not of Everton's slightly depleted defence but also of their rebuilding confidence and resolve. But, as is always the case for these kinds of games, the prize at the end should the Blues pull off a win in terms of confidence is huge. If the 12th man of Goodison can raise the roof in the manner in which they so often do when City come to town – perhaps with the added lift of a couple of new signings in the bag by the time kick-off rolls around – it could provide the shot in the arm to carry Martinez's men over the line.
Kick off: 4pm
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Predicted line-up: Howard; Coleman, Stones, Jagielka, Galloway; Barry, McCarthy, Cleverley, Mirallas, Barkley; Lukaku
Full coverage: ToffeeWeb Match Report
Reader Comments (96)
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1 Posted 22/08/2015 at 08:15:29
Whichever he picks, I think we will have a classic game on our hands here, both teams will be up for it. Hopefully we will have our shooting boots on,
Hart IMO is a bit doggy as a shot-stopper so, if we attack like we did against the Saints in numbers, then we will have opportunities to score, even off rebounds.
It was like a breathe of fresh air seeing us counter-attacking in numbers instead of slow play getting the ball up the field, so let's have more of that.
2 Posted 22/08/2015 at 08:22:38
For me though the Referee has to put in a good performance. For all the flair and speed in the City team, they are also a bunch of dirty bastards. Also the linesman that didn't give offside for probably the most offside goal you will ever see at Anfield is officiating our game.
I really liked the system last week and again this could work against Citeh. But because we are at home will Martinez revert back to the possession based game?
3 Posted 22/08/2015 at 08:45:45
Realistically id probably be content with a draw but get a win and we will have some real momentum at the start of the season.
4 Posted 22/08/2015 at 09:20:46
I am pretty sure that if the defence can tame City then Everton can go on & get the win attacking like they did last week they looked the part the only worry is defence this game will also test Stones.
5 Posted 22/08/2015 at 09:42:47
It would be an unbelievable boost if we could win, but a draw would be a good result.
6 Posted 22/08/2015 at 09:48:53
7 Posted 22/08/2015 at 09:56:10
Can't believe I just said that... Can we play Jelavic?
8 Posted 22/08/2015 at 09:57:19
9 Posted 22/08/2015 at 09:59:06
Booed off at half time in the season's opener against Watford, cheered to the rafters going in 2-0 up at half time against the Saints.
Confidence in sport comes from good performance and winning. Another win Sunday against clearly the early season form team would give us real belief and momentum as the succession of early difficult fixtures continues.
Dating back to last season, GP home performances have been largely insipid and toothless. The Shitteh game, on the back of last week's win at the Saints, may just have come at an optimum time for us, as in recent years Everton has largely 'been up' for the games against the elite clubs, especially at GP.
I am anticipating a crackerjack of a match and hoping a win for Everton will make a real statement to the league and even our own fan base as to what we are capable of.
10 Posted 22/08/2015 at 10:01:15
11 Posted 22/08/2015 at 10:03:52
12 Posted 22/08/2015 at 10:12:41
I absolutely agree with you about the crowd. I think a number of the lads confidence is fragile and the last thing they need is us getting on their backs.
They won brilliantly last week but tomorrow is a different game altogether. I think it is so massively important to back them, and not get too impatient and for heaven's sake not boo them. All that will do is hand over the initiative to City.
To me it more about how we play tomorrow. If the team play in the same manner as last week, it won't guarantee a win but it'll be great to see them getting in the face of some of the best players in europe.
It's a weird one. It's like the team at home are waiting for us to back them and us waiting for them to get at the opposition.
Well, what we can do is encourage them and see where it gets us...and the team.
I thought the supporters last week, as usual, were superb and I hope more of the home crowd follow their example...especially the miserable get behind me!
13 Posted 22/08/2015 at 10:14:08
I reckon we should park the bus and counter attack for the majority of the game then see how we're doing and change for it last twenty if necessary!
The last thing we want to do is stand toe to toe with Aguero, Silva, Toure, the quality just isn't there to out play them so play to our strengths which is pace and power up top, with plenty of early diagonal balls to get in the space behind their defence!
14 Posted 22/08/2015 at 10:25:00
16 Posted 22/08/2015 at 11:24:21
We now need a good performance against a very good team. The good thing is Goodison will be rocking at 4pm on the back of a 3-0, so the team needs to come out with a positive attitude and to keep the crowd on side. We might stand a chance then.
17 Posted 22/08/2015 at 11:26:31
To state the obvious, a tough game and I'll be happy with a point.
18 Posted 22/08/2015 at 11:30:51
19 Posted 22/08/2015 at 11:46:04
All I want to see is commitment, aggression and a quick tempo. Have a go and see what happens.
20 Posted 22/08/2015 at 12:01:04
I was very critical of the manager and team last season and also paid out on Lukaku on a couple of occasions. I hope, and think, I will be eating my words over the coming weeks.
If we roll City, keep hold of John Stones, and sign Yarmolenko everything changes. We could be on the up again.
Lyndon, I would go along with all of your team except for Mirallas. I think Kone has to start – to me, he played a big part in bringing the best out of not only Lukaku but also Barkley. Don't change a winning team.
21 Posted 22/08/2015 at 12:01:58
There was no improvement from last season; they were all standing still when corners were taken and jumping to defend them from a standing position. This has got to improve; Southampton had two or three good chances from these corners.
22 Posted 22/08/2015 at 12:06:56
23 Posted 22/08/2015 at 12:07:11
Last week, they could easily have been trailing before the first goal due to poor defensive work. Aguero and Ya Ya have to be kept quiet.
24 Posted 22/08/2015 at 12:09:40
0-0 and I'll eat Paddy Ashdown's hat.
25 Posted 22/08/2015 at 12:17:45
26 Posted 22/08/2015 at 12:20:34
Some people just don't seem able to compliment when we play well and just want to put a downer on everything.
27 Posted 22/08/2015 at 12:21:23
28 Posted 22/08/2015 at 12:42:35
All in all, the team performance against Southampton was excellent and I'm with Pete here: How come they are suddenly a bad team after what they achieved last season?
I think Arouna showed some really good chasing back and bombing forward and I think he added to the potency of Gareth, Macca and Tom in the midfield.
We do have to get into them, as they are so good in creating opportunities, and with a centre forward such as Aguerro who to me is the best in the Premier League. Still and all, we've got some decent players ourselves and I'm sure they'll be coming here knowing they're in for a game.
29 Posted 22/08/2015 at 13:23:59
So long as we close down quickly and attack at pace, then we should give them a game. Go back to slow dull to boring build-up play and standing off the opposition, then we shall struggle. Hope its the former.
Looking forward to the game tomorrow. COYB
30 Posted 22/08/2015 at 13:40:33
31 Posted 22/08/2015 at 14:21:04
32 Posted 22/08/2015 at 15:15:22
It's been regularly stated on ToffeeWeb how some/many think he is a waffler who uses a thousand words where a hundred would do. He still retains that trait, but I liked the way that he showed a diplomatic contempt for that plodding persistence from the first questioner, and displayed a steely determination to steer the conference onto this game. Good on yer, Roberto.
Toffees to win 2-1; (Mirallas, Deulofeu).
33 Posted 22/08/2015 at 15:42:09
Tomorrow is a different proposition altogether.
City have looked outstanding. Everton can be awfully Jekyll and Hyde.
I think possibly the largest factor tomorrow will be the fans. If they get frustrated and start the grumbling, I think we are doomed. If the players come out with intent and determination, Goodison will get behind them and lift them – especially on the back of last week's performance.
I'm actually not as optimistic as most. But as always cling to hope. As long as our effort is good and the fans get behind the team...
34 Posted 22/08/2015 at 15:56:17
35 Posted 22/08/2015 at 16:40:51
Coleman Stones Jagielka Oviedo
Kone Barkley Mirallas
Barry is not mobile enough to keep track of Silva and City's speed. Not the game for him. Cleverley has impressed me and he has a good engine.
Kone and Mirallas have to play to offer an out ball on the counter.
Left back is a tough call but I'd go for experience with Oviedo unless his fitness is a problem.
36 Posted 22/08/2015 at 16:46:18
Coleman Stones Jagielka Galloway
Kone Barkley McCarthy Mirallas
Cleverley and Deulofeu off the bench for Mirallas and Kone respectively with Deulofeu moving up into the attacking second striker if the opportunity presents itself. Oviedo in for Galloway if needed.
37 Posted 22/08/2015 at 17:07:38
And I like how you incorporate Mirallas and Kone. I like KM as a counter-attacking threat, but I also think Kone takes a lot of heat away from Rom. We're going to need both to get a result.
38 Posted 22/08/2015 at 17:14:00
39 Posted 22/08/2015 at 17:25:56
40 Posted 22/08/2015 at 17:31:21
41 Posted 22/08/2015 at 17:43:18
So I'm going with some trepidation but I think I'll lose my bloody voice again.
Come on lads, get stuck into them and I hope the miserable bugger behind me is on his holidays!
42 Posted 22/08/2015 at 18:05:17
He was rarely moaning after. Always wondered what he said; he'd never tell me.
A fond memory but not necessarily recommended!
43 Posted 22/08/2015 at 18:08:14
44 Posted 22/08/2015 at 18:09:00
45 Posted 22/08/2015 at 18:33:44
Just reminded me of an experience at Anfield. I was invited by some business partners to the Derby match. We were 2-0 down when Timmy rifled one in with 10 minutes to go. Despite being surrounded by 100s of them, I had to jump up and celebrate. I was showered with all sorts but, as I sat down, a steward come over and told me I couldn't celebrate an away goal in that part of the ground.
I gave him a short answer and off he went to return with a policeman in tow. The bizzie said if we score again and I celebrate he will throw me out. I said "I'll take that'" and I do believe a little bit of his mouth curled up in a smile.
Anyway unsurprisingly it took five years to get re-invited. As I took my seat, an old boy behind me tapped me on the shoulder and whispered in my ear, "I don't mind if you celebrate if you score."
46 Posted 22/08/2015 at 18:38:47
City at home will be a hard-fought affair; I reckon a score draw...
Why do we seem to always play Liverpool at the same time of year home and away season after season? Did Davey have it spot one?
47 Posted 22/08/2015 at 19:23:57
When we get forward he can also go inside to link up with Lukaku and Barkley.
He also carries a goal threat from the edge of the box.
Other than that the same team and tactics as Southampton and another 3 points (I hope).
If we play well and and not that tippy tappy shit we will give anyone a game. If we revert to type and play two deep DMs then I won't have as much faith.
4-1-4-1 with Barkley given that free role again and McCarthy pushed higher up the pitch.
The post-Moyes era has always been close, even when we were crap, so I predict 2-1 or 3-2 to us.
48 Posted 22/08/2015 at 19:47:08
50 Posted 22/08/2015 at 20:52:59
It will be a really tough match and the key is keeping Silva and particularly Aguero quiet. Stones and Jags will be tested big time, I'm just not sure they are up for it.
Forecast 1-1 at best.
51 Posted 22/08/2015 at 21:29:34
Coleman, Lukuka x 2 penalty in the last 5 minutes to win it for us!
Dreams do come true.
52 Posted 22/08/2015 at 22:22:05
Every time we play City they get away with umpteen yellow and red card offences. I hope this referee and his assistants can stay strong.
53 Posted 22/08/2015 at 22:46:28
54 Posted 22/08/2015 at 23:06:19
Coleman Jagielka Stones Galloway
Deulofeu Barkley. Mirallas
55 Posted 22/08/2015 at 23:27:06
There's a big part of me that worries that going into this game with a counter attacking strategy won't work. That we'll effectively go down without getting a punch off.
At home, bit of confidence, and some good attackers available. I'd go for the throat.
56 Posted 22/08/2015 at 23:39:13
What a game this could be, the crowd will make a huge difference... especially if we start well & go one up early on. I couldn't give a toss how City have started as we have a great record at Goodison Park against them.
Anyway, for what's it worth, I predict two scorelines:
57 Posted 22/08/2015 at 23:59:48
Love it. Haha...
59 Posted 23/08/2015 at 01:36:31
61 Posted 23/08/2015 at 02:06:42
62 Posted 23/08/2015 at 02:06:57
63 Posted 23/08/2015 at 02:08:50
65 Posted 23/08/2015 at 05:48:17
We were 1-0 down in no time, and equalised when the ref gave a penalty (it was so stonewall there was no opportunity to stiff us). When Wayne Clark slotted it home I managed to keep my composure and quietly celebrated, until my soft arse mate decided to tell the people around us I was a Blue...
Then Wayne Clark scored from a header, towering above David Burrows to nod past Dropalot, and having been "outed" I didn't care and was dancing away at my seat. I looked down the entire length of the Kremlyn Road and there was one other Blue in the same position.
Of course then the ref did stiff us, and blew for a foul saying Clarke had fouled Burrows. He hadn't, and even the Reds admitted it. So thank you Joe Worrall you biased twat for making me look an idiot. The lovable reds around us were only to quick to suggest I "sit back down".
At least we didn't lose the game...
66 Posted 23/08/2015 at 07:59:06
67 Posted 23/08/2015 at 08:27:55
68 Posted 23/08/2015 at 08:30:25
We usually do well against Citeh... let's hope it continues today.
69 Posted 23/08/2015 at 09:02:46
I think the biggest problem is the Jagielka - Stones partnership. Good players individually, as a central partnership, they are all over the place, most of our central defender partnerships have had an incredible understanding with each other: Labone - Hurst, Mountfield - Ratcliffe probably our best two partnerships.
Watching many of our goals conceded aerial-wise they both tend to lose the player they suppose to be marking or are marking the wrong player. Distin got caught up in this lack of cohesion, he can win most high balls but never seemed to know if it was his responsibility to attack every ball thrown into the box.
In short, forget individually who we are playing against; hit them quick, hard, close 'em down quickly, and we have all the ability in the world to score plenty of goals. The skilled goals we scored last week showed how good we can play.
70 Posted 23/08/2015 at 09:11:19
Or if Sergio doesn't have a catering-sized jar of salad cream, capable of severing a toe tendon, maybe a he could suffer a David James-style injury and pull a muscle reaching for the remote.
(Anything will do – come on God, get your fucking finger out!)
71 Posted 23/08/2015 at 09:11:42
Mirallas always turns up for these 'big' games and has a hint of the bastard about him which I actually like and can get the crowd going on a Sunday. I fancy us to play well today and can't ignore the 4/1 on offer at the bookies as part of my acca, COYB!! 3-2 Everton.
72 Posted 23/08/2015 at 09:20:59
For today, I'm satisfied if he starts with the same team. We played well last week and it was great to see the lads attacking the ball, whether it was in our box or theirs. They seemed to have found the appetite they had the season before last.
I know, one swallow doesn't make a Summer but it's a great start.If Roberto thinks that the same team as last week can do the job, then that's good enough for me.
The good thing now, is he has Gerry and Kevin (hopefully!) fit and raring to go, so we can change tactics. If Mo is fit then, he can come on if Barry is being left floundering. Though I think now that we've got Tom Cleverley, he's taking a fair bit of the workload from Gareth and James.
It will most likely be a really stern test, as I see City as better than llasat season and hungry for the title.
I'll be chuffed if we play well against them. As for prediction, nah, as long as we play as well as we can then let battle commence.
73 Posted 23/08/2015 at 09:42:50
74 Posted 23/08/2015 at 09:55:16
75 Posted 23/08/2015 at 10:08:27
76 Posted 23/08/2015 at 10:36:15
77 Posted 23/08/2015 at 10:52:18
78 Posted 23/08/2015 at 11:19:17
79 Posted 23/08/2015 at 11:27:11
80 Posted 23/08/2015 at 11:31:02
They should help the Stones/Yarmolenko cases.
81 Posted 23/08/2015 at 11:38:23
82 Posted 23/08/2015 at 12:35:31
As with last week, I believe with the correct tactics, and correctly timed substitutions, this game, as was the case against Saints, is definitely win-able.
The papers are full of the usual transfer drivel, (to be expected, I suppose) but all are tipping City to turn us over, as was the case last week.
83 Posted 23/08/2015 at 12:45:16
84 Posted 23/08/2015 at 12:51:23
85 Posted 23/08/2015 at 13:13:38
It would be wonderful if we win, I'll be watching at my friend's house. But with Stones, Jagielka, Coleman, Galloway, Barry and McCarthy at the back, Cleverly in the middle and Mirallas, Barkley and Lukaku up front, I would say we look a bit strong.
86 Posted 23/08/2015 at 13:19:37
Well in Ged, I'll bet on Ross and Rom to score... don't mean 4-1 though!
Come on you Blues!
87 Posted 23/08/2015 at 13:30:12
This fella comes from Altrincham; how the fuck is he allowed to ref the Manchester clubs?
88 Posted 23/08/2015 at 13:35:17
89 Posted 23/08/2015 at 13:41:51
90 Posted 23/08/2015 at 13:43:41
I think we will have to score a couple because Aquero must be a nightmare to mark and I fancy he will score for one.
It will be a searching test for us to find out how good we are!
I'll have everything crossed, but we really need to get behind the team today.
91 Posted 23/08/2015 at 13:50:53
Pedro with his first at Chelsea.
92 Posted 23/08/2015 at 13:56:00
If we can match them we will be doing a great job.
93 Posted 23/08/2015 at 13:56:17
I'm still working on the 2nd half.
94 Posted 23/08/2015 at 14:16:46
95 Posted 23/08/2015 at 14:27:12
96 Posted 23/08/2015 at 14:30:14
97 Posted 23/08/2015 at 14:38:25
Mike the fact that he's one of the worst refs, (have you seen a good one?) doesn't really matter. Imagine Everton having a fella from Maghull refereeing Everton.
98 Posted 23/08/2015 at 14:38:32
99 Posted 23/08/2015 at 14:44:59
Put in a performance today, crowd get behind the team, I then think Stones will stay.
100 Posted 23/08/2015 at 14:45:11
101 Posted 23/08/2015 at 16:53:56
'Claudio Ranieri's side are above Manchester United on goal difference after three games, although Manchester City and Liverpool can leapfrog them later this weekend.'
Guess what? They (forgot) to mention us, who, if we beat City can also go above The Foxes. On goal difference of course.
Are we so irrelevant, we don't exist?Journalism like this makes ya blood boil. Just tell it how it is or might be. Sorry I apologise, this isn't journalism. That would mean that have to be impartial and tell the truth.
I am quite hopeful that we can turn the corner in one way and young John heads the words that are being offered and realises that he has enough cash already and shows some character. No one is even contemplating reporting that we might be on to something (youthful squad) in 2/3 seasons down the road and THAT we might not be a bad proposition at all..... Shower of gobshites
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