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Season 2015/16

Everton v City: Opposition View

  • 06 January 2016 12:44
  • Posted by @roline_mcfc
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Ahead of Wednesday's trip to Goodison Park, we quizzed a fan of the Toffees on their thoughts and predictions...

This week's supporter is Lyndon Lloyd (@ToffeeWeb). Here's what he had to say...

How are you feeling ahead of the game?

Excited on the one hand by the possibilities that exist in a knockout competition but nervous on the other because of the strength of the opposition and Everton's defensive frailties of late.

We enjoyed a pretty good run against City in the latter days of David Moyes but they've have had our number in recent encounters, not least in August when they won comfortably at Goodison Park despite us coming off a terrific result at Southampton the previous week.

How do you expect Everton to line-up? Who will play and in what formation?

I wouldn't be surprised to see Roberto Martinez play this one fairly cagily in the first half and set the side out to be more defensive like he did against Tottenham on Sunday.

The formation will probably be the same regardless - a nominal 4-5-1 with one winger on the right and either Arouna Kone or a midfielder like Tom Cleverley deployed on the left that is designed to allow the team to pivot to a more attacking 4-3-3 shape going forward.

Ideally, he'll go with the team that finished the game against Spurs, with Joel Robles resuming his role as 'cup keeper' despite not having played since the quarter final a month ago.

That would mean Kone (thankfully!) dropping to the bench, Cleverley, Muhamed Besic and ex-Citizen Gareth Barry in midfield and Gerard Deulofeu and Ross Barkley supporting Romelu Lukaku up front.

Phil Jagielka won't be fit enough to return so it will be John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi's Argentine teammate Ramiro Funes Mori at centre half.

As the tie has two legs, how do you feel both sides should approach this game?

As the stronger side, City surely have the luxury of just needing to avoid defeat in the first leg and then getting the Toffees back to Etihad where an Everton side hasn't won six years.

The reverse is true for us - you've got to believe we have to take some sort of lead into the second leg to stand a chance of making the final so unless we make a fast start and get Manuel Pellegrini's side on the rack early on, it will probably be a case of biding our time, keeping it tight and then hoping to score in the second half.

Where do you think the key battles will take place on the pitch? Who should both teams be wary of?

With the form Lukaku is in this season, Everton always know they've got a great chance of scoring goals and if Deulofeu plays and is on form, that pairing will likely pose the greatest threat to City. In that respect, the fact that Vincent Kompany will be missing is probably the best news we could have hoped for.

For Everton, the key battle will in our defence and keeping  the likes of David Silva and Yaya Toure quiet, two players who have picked us apart in previous meetings and then denying Sergio Aguero the space he thrives on to score goals.

Romelu Lukaku said he is bemused with Everton’s League position but believes the Toffees can challenge for the top four. Do you agree with his comments?

I agree that Everton should be challenging for the top four, particularly in this unpredictable season where Manchester United and Chelsea are under-performing and the Champions League places are so wide open, but I don't believe we can anymore, not unless we somehow string together a run of victories from our visits to the Etihad, Stamford Bridge and the Britannia Stadium in the Premier League over the next month.

The talent is unquestionably there - this Everton side is capable of beating anyone on its day but neither the ruthless mentality nor the defensive solidity is there to make it a reality at the moment. That we've failed to beat any team in the top half this season speaks for itself.

During a difficult run, comments were made about Everton’s defensive weakness, though there appeared to be a much-improved showing against Tottenham. Would you agree?

I would agree on both counts, although that defensive weakness has really been exposed in what should have been an easier run of games following our tough start to the season.

Everton were easily the better side in each of the matches against Bournemouth, Norwich, Crystal Palace and Leicester and led Stoke with 20 minutes to go but failed to win any of them, all because of poor defensive organisation and vulnerability at set pieces.

They were better against Tottenham but for much of the game it was at the expense of going forward and it meant that we didn't really come out and start playing until the last half hour of the contest.

Despite conceding a soft goal to Dele Alli, it was encouraging nonetheless but there's a long way to go until the majority of Evertonians can be convinced we've turned a corner defensively.

Do you feel a positive result on Wednesday could kickstart the Toffees season?

It could, although we've had a couple of games already this season that looked like they could be the catalyst that really ignites the team and the momentum has been lost by throwing away matches from winning positions.

Then, of course, there is still the fact that the second leg is looming later in the month, but there is no question that a win on Wednesday can only be a positive in terms of morale.

What are your views on City as a club? Is your opinion shared by the majority of Toffees fans?

Historically, Evertonians have always regarded City as kindred spirits in a way - Blue teams that spent many years in the shadow of more irritatingly successful Red neighbours but that has largely been erased since Sheikh Mansour took over.

I think majority of Toffees fans would give their right arm for Everton to be in the same position and for Bill Kenwright to find us our own billionaire owner but I've been pulling vainly for us to succeed doing it the hard way as we are now.

Somehow I believe it would feel all the sweeter but I also recognise that we are in danger of being left behind.

Dare to cast a score prediction?

I think the first leg will end in a draw, probably something like 2-2, and we'll have it all to do in the second leg.

What are Everton’s chances of winning the Capital One Cup?

If we can get past City and into the final then I think we have a great chance. Martinez has been there before with Wigan (as City fans know all too well) and you'd hope that we'd have too much for Stoke this time if it's them or the manager could provide the right psychological tools to get us over the mental block we have against Liverpool if they are our opponents.

One step at time, though - it may only be two games but Wembley still feels an awfully long way away!

Read Lyndon's preview of the game here.

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