On Monday evening, the Etihad Stadium welcomes Ronald Koeman’s Everton in Manchester City’s first home game of the 2017/18 season. Both clubs have invested heavily in the transfer market and will be looking to carry on their promising form from the first gameweek.
Premier League – City of Manchester Stadium, Manchester – Monday 21th August – 20:00 UK Time
Best Odd of: 1/3 at Ladbrokes
Best Odd of: 9/2 at Betfred
Best Odd of: 9 at Coral
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City have signed 5 major players so far this transfer window:
Wide defenders Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy who both signed for £50m from Spurs and Monaco respectively, Danilo from Real Madrid who arrived for £27m, attacking midfielder Bernardo Silva who was acquired from Monaco for a fee in the region of £45m and shotstopper Ederson who came from Benfica for £30m.
Last season, Man City’s attack was brilliant as they scored 80 Premier League goals, however it was their defence that let them down, especially the fullbacks with Zabaleta, Sagna, Clichy and Kolarov, all 4 of whom have recently been let go by the club, unable to reach Guardiola’s desired level.
This summer, the Citizens have brought in two of the world’s best fullbacks in Mendy and Walker, whose athleticism allows them to excel both in the attacking and defensive phases.
For Monaco last season, Mendy proved himself to be one of the best left backs in Europe as he showed his pinpoint crossing and all round ability in the latter stages of the Champions League.
Walker also shone last season under Pochettino at Spurs, constantly overlapping on the right hand side and causing problems for opposition defences.
Both players are monumental upgrades on Zabaleta, Sagna, Kolarov and Clichy, and suit Guardiola’s attack-minded style perfectly.
City also brought in Danilo from Real Madrid, who will be a backup to Walker at right back but can also play in defensive midfield in front of the back four, a position City have few players in.
They definitely didn’t need anyone in attack, yet in Bernardo Silva The Blues have signed one of the best young right-sided attacking midfielders in world football, who will provide more competition to the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling.
Finally, Man City brought in Benfica goalkeeper Ederson to replace Claudio Bravo, who had an awful first season in England. The Brazilian has excellent distribution and looked good in Europe, but then again so did Bravo before he arrived.
After the departure of talismanic forward Romelu Lukaku, who scored an exceptional 25 Premier League goals for The Toffies last campaign, Everton’s squad lacked quality and goals.
The new owners have addressed this problem in the transfer market, having spent around £140m.
The most expensive signing they made was a £45m deal for Gylfi Sigurdsson from Swansea. It is questionable whether the Icelandic attacking midfielder is worth that fee, however he is a supremely talented set piece taker and creatively brilliant in a number 10 role.
Everton also signed Dutch attacking midfielder Davy Klaassen from Ajax, who scored 13 goals and picked up 9 assists in the Eredivisie and, alongside Sigurdsson, will be looking to replace Lukaku’s influence upfront with goals from midfield.
In defence, the Toffies picked up Burnley centre-back Michael Keane and young goalkeeper Jordan Pickford for £30m each, as well as Southampton right back Cuco Martina on a free transfer.
Keane is a versatile defender, who was physical and what many people would consider a ‘traditional English defender’ for Burnley last season: making the second most blocks and winning the most aerial duels of any Premier League defender.
However the Englishman has shown on international duty that he is also talented with the ball at his feet, this adaptability makes him the perfect man for Koeman, who frequently switched between systems last campaign.
Pickford is also a brilliant signing, and at just 23-years-old, has the potential to develop into one of the world’s best goalkeepers at Everton.
In attack, Everton brought in Sandro Ramirez from Malaga for around £5m, Wayne Rooney from Manchester United for free and Henry Onyekuru from Eupen for £7.2m.
Onyekuru has been loaned out to Anderlecht for the 2017/18 season, however Rooney and Ramirez will play pivotal roles upfront, with the former already netting once in his first game back at his boyhood club.
Positive opening games:
Both sides came out of their opening fixtures with 3 points, with the Citizens breaking down a resolute Brighton side to win 2-0 and Everton scoring the only goal at home to Stoke City.
Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero looked very dangerous as an attacking duo for Man City, while the move to Everton seemed to rejuvenate Rooney, who scored a sublime header with Davy Klaassen pulling the strings in behind him.
Injuries and Suspensions:
Yannick Bolasie and Seamus Coleman remain unavailable due to long-term injuries. Funes Mori and Ross Barkley are also sidelined, with the latter picking up a knee injury this week, which should keep him out for around four weeks, and the former experiencing complications with surgery on his knee.
Both Ilkay Gundogan and Benjamin Mendy are returning from injury, after featuring either on the bench (Mendy) or in the starting lineup (Gundogan) in a midweek friendly against Girona, and could both start.
Manchester City (3-5-2)
- Otamendi, Stones, Kompany
- Mendy, De Bruyne, Fernandinho, David Silva, Walker
- Aguero, Gabriel Jesus
- Keane, Williams, Jagielka
- Calvert-Lewin, Gueye, Sigurdsson, Schneiderlin, Baines
- Rooney, Ramirez
Although Everton have recruited well this summer, the quality of their squad is still a long way away from Manchester City’s. The Citizen’s attack is extremely potent, with Jesus and Aguero an exceptional duo, especially with the support of the wingbacks and two ‘free 8’s’ behind them.
Everton could cause problems for the City defence, and looked extremely fluid and impressive in midweek against Hajduk Split. Overall, however, I think the home side will come away 3-1 victors, with Jesus, De Bruyne and Aguero to score for the hosts and Rooney for the Visitors.