I am really struggling to write this post today. After two demoralising performances (let alone results) we now have to make the short but ominous trip to Eastlands.
In recent seasons we have actually got one of the best records against City than any other team in the league. In fact last seasons game at City was only our second defeat in almost 8 seasons, admittedly we did also suffer our 3rd defeat in 8 seasons at home later in the season.
The trouble we have this time is we are not looking hard to beat or biting into challenges. These are the things that Moyes’s teams had, hence why we probably had a decent record against City. Don’t read into this that I want Moyes back or anything of the sort, if I had to choose between the two contrasting styles of play of the two managers I would take Martinez’s every day of the week, but much like Moyes, there seems to be no plan B.
Against Hull, who admittedly played very well, we continued to plod around with Jags, Distin and Howard playing keep ball at the back when we had just gone into 6 minutes of injury time! We were drawing 1-1 at home, with Hull! These are the times when the crowd should be roaring as attack after attack pores forward trying to get that winning goal that will send everyone home ecstatic. Not this Everton. Almost to player they made individual and team mistakes for about 80 or the 90 minutes and I fear if we play anything close to that level of intensity City will walk all over us.
That being said…
Things don’t seem like they can get any worse. Pienaar got some minutes, Mirallas is on fire, despite lacking full fitness, Lukaku is scoring goals and the injury list is shortening.
Seamus Coleman was ineffectual against Hull but the minutes will have done him good. James McCarthey should be back for this game too which shores us up in midfield.
Speaking of midfield Besic is looking a great purchase, and I feel warrants a place alongside McCarthey in place of Barry, but this won’t happen.
The return of Steven Naismith is also much-anticipated (who would have thought that 18 months ago!) as he seems to gel the midfield and attack. For me Barkley drops to the bench also.
Update at 11:33 – Naismith, McCarthey & Gibson all set to miss out. Back to the drawing board.
Team COYB would pick:
Howard, Coleman, Baines, Jagielka, Distin,
McCarthey Barry, Besic, Mirallas, Naismith Eto’o, Pienaar, Lukaku
Team Martinez will probably pick:
Howard, Coleman, Baines, Jagielka, Distin, McCarthey, Barry, Mirallas, Naismith, Barkley, Lukaku
City are set to be without Vincent Kompany, with David Silva who hasn’t featured since the end of October due to a knee injury also a doubt.
£32m summer signing Eliaquim Mangala should return for City after serving a 1 game suspension.
So Blues, what are your predictions for the game? We’re going for 2-1 Lukaku to get both.