A pivotal 10 days played out in the North West begins on Saturday when Manchester City travel to Goodison Park to face Everton.
Preceding the Champions League quarter-final against Liverpool and the Manchester derby, Pep Guardiola’s men will hope to get the ball rolling with a win on Merseyside and banish the memories of last season’s 4-0 defeat.
Here, we take a look at four duels which could go some way to deciding the outcome of the game…
Nicolas Otamendi v Cenk Tosun
Nicolas Otamendi has been a mainstay of the City defence this season and though you would expect us to dominate possession and allow him to carry the ball out of defence, he’ll be aware of the threat posed by a man who’s scored four goals in his last three games.
Cenk Tosun got off to somewhat of a slow start following his January arrival, but he’s shown a knack for being in the right place at the right time and Otamendi will need to be alert to the danger in and around the six-yard box.
It’s a challenge you would no doubt expect the Argentine to relish.
READ: Everton v City team news
David Silva v Tom Davies
Tom Davies delivered a coming of age performance on our last visit to Goodison Park.
His goal capped a fine display, but with City arriving full of confidence and a honed style of attacking play, it may be the youngster’s industry which proves more impactful this time.
He could have the unenviable task of stopping David Silva from dictating proceedings and the enduring playmaker will want to ensure this is a game where his speed of thought and execution prevails in the middle of the park.
It’s a battle you would back the Spaniard to win – he is so adept at dealing with the close attention of his opposite number – and when he’s on his game that usually means City are too.
Leroy Sane v Seamus Coleman
The sight of Leroy Sane gliding past defenders seemed almost constant in the run of games before the international break.
The German winger is performing at a level which marks him as one of the most dangerous attacking options in a side in which there is no shortage in that department.
In Seamus Coleman, he’ll come up against one of the Premier League’s most consistent full-backs and it could be one of Saturday’s more intriguing battles.
The Irishman is a willing attacker and his bustling style offers a real threat for the Toffees, but such is Sane’s form he may be more reserved in his forays forward so not to leave the kind of space the winger loves to exploit.
Bernardo Silva v Leighton Baines
On the other flank, it will be equally as interesting.
Whilst Sane and Coleman could be a battle of pace and power, both Bernardo Silva and Leighton Baines’ respective talents are more subtle.
The Portuguese schemer will be one of our key supply lines – he has 10 assists this season – but that’s a role Baines fulfils at Everton, which is why Bernardo’s work-rate will be so important.
As will his creativity.
When City are on top, many teams respond by sitting deep and remaining compact.
Should the game transpire that way, Bernardo’s slide rule precision is another weapon in City’s armoury to complement the passing ranges of David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne.