John Stones' return, squad boosts and Romelu Lukaku feature in our Everton v Man City talking points.
1 A lighter shade of Blue
Sunday’s clash will see former Everton man John Stones return to his old stomping ground for the first time since his summer move to City.
The defender spent three-and-a-half years with the Toffees, clocking up 95 appearances, and has become a regular in Pep Guardiola’s side.
The Blues boss says he expects his centre-back to be unfazed by returning to his former club and believes Stones will be pepped to perform.
The 22-year-old will be buoyed following his first City goal last time out, and may receive a welcome reception from both sets of fans – as will former (sky) Blue Gareth Barry.
City head into this one in a much-improved run of form, with five wins in their last six games.
A 5-0 triumph in the FA Cup against West Ham will have provided a confidence boost – and the timing was perfect, ahead of our upcoming tricky tests against Everton and Tottenham.
It’s hoped the Blues can go on a strong run now, with crucial Premier League, FA Cup and (a little further ahead) Champions League encounters on the horizon.
3 A happier hunting ground?
There was a (lengthy) period in which clashes against Everton were always feared – especially trips to Goodison Park.
Up until a vital 3-2 victory in May 2014, City had emerged victorious just once from the Blue Merseyside fortress since 1992 – and had only managed to scrape three draws.
A 2-1 win in 2009 had brought hope the jinx was over, but the joy was short-lived until the day Manuel Pellegrini’s men visited needing three points to put themselves within touching distance of the Premier League title – at the cost of the Toffees’ bitter rivals Liverpool.
Thankfully, things have changed. Everton haven’t beaten City in their last seven Premier League meetings, with the (sky) Blues winning two of the last three away games.
4 Squad boosts
As always, both managers shared eagerly-awaited team news in their pre-match press conferences.
Everton have strengthened in the transfer window with the signings of Morgan Schneiderlin and Ademola Lookman – both of which could feature on Sunday. They are without key man Idrissa Gueye, who is on international duty at the African Cup of Nations, and the injured Yannick Bolasie.
Three of Everton’s last five goals against City have been scored by Romelu Lukaku.
Since his debut for the Toffees in September 2013, only Aguero and Harry Kane have scored more goals in the Premier League than the Belgian.
He opened the scoring with a cool finish as the two sides played out a 1-1 draw at the Etihad Stadium in October, and will hope to end the campaign with his best scoring return for Everton yet.
Here’s hoping he doesn’t move a step closer to that achievement this weekend…