The Toffees were put to the sword by relegation-threatened Fulham 2-0 in their most recent outing, whereas Man City made it 16 wins on the trot with a resounding 3-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur.
Carlo Ancelotti opted against handing Joshua King his first Everton start even in the absence of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, and it did not take long for the illustrious Italian to come under fire for his team selection against Fulham.
The Toffees had put five past Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup only a few days before, but they could not break down Scott Parker’s resolute Fulham outfit as a brace from Josh Maja saw the Cottagers travel back down to the capital with a vital three points in the bag.
Having now won just one of their last five Premier League matches, Everton’s top-four prospects are shrouded in uncertainty as they sit seventh in the rankings, although they do have at least one game in hand over most of the teams around them, and fourth-placed Liverpool are only three points ahead having played two games more.
The Toffees’ inconsistent nature is seriously harming their ambitions of bringing Champions League football to the Goodison Park faithful, but the imminent return of Calvert-Lewin – who is expected to be fit for this tie – ought to be a major boost as the 23-year-old aims to build on the 13 Premier League goals he has already chalked up this term.
However, trying to get one over a merciless Man City outfit will require a 10/10 performance from every player on the pitch, especially seeing as Everton have taken just one point from the last 12 on offer at Goodison Park – failing to score in three of those matches before they welcome the league’s best defence to Merseyside.
Hardly any team is immune from the attacking prowess of Manchester City, and in particular Ilkay Gundogan, who scored his 10th and 11th Premier League goals of the season in his side’s routine 3-0 triumph over Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday evening.
Pep Guardiola had already witnessed his side break the all-time English record for consecutive wins against Swansea City before the Spurs victory marked their 16th on the bounce, and it is difficult to see where their phenomenal streak could end at this rate.
With Manchester United and Liverpool both suffering further slip-ups in the race for glory, Man City have opened up a seven-point gap at the top of the standings having played a game fewer than their adversaries, and if it was not Guardiola’s title to lose before the visit of Spurs, it certainly is now.
The visitors make the trip to Goodison Park having won their last nine on the road in all competitions – five in the Premier League – and City are expected to prolong Everton’s misery on home soil with a 17th win on the trot this week, with recent history suggesting that they can do exactly that.
This fixture was initially scheduled for December before a coronavirus outbreak ravaged City’s squad, but Guardiola’s crop have won their last five league encounters with Everton, scoring at least two goals each time.