Why Everton have the perfect chance to send message against Manchester City
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As we were gearing up for the big 2019/20 Premier League kick-off, the buzz around Goodison Park was real. Everton had an excellent transfer window. Fabian Delph was signed for peanuts, Angel Gomes was acquired permanently while two rising stars in Moise Kean and Alex Iwobi were added to an already-strong playing squad.
The fans became expectant. A top-six push was on the cards. Oh how The Toffees would love to force their way into the continental places and get themselves in amongst it. After all, with an excellent manager and tight-knit dressing room, Everton had every chance of challenging, right...?
Well, I think it's fair to label their start to the campaign as inconsistent. Back-to-back losses against AFC Bournemouth and Sheffield United leaves Everton sitting in fourteenth place. Today, though, they have a real opportunity to prove their worth, against a Manchester City side, who, particularly defensively, are being struck down by injury.
Since the David Moyes era, Everton has always been a team capable of causing the upset on any given matchday. They're a side who rise to the occasion, and this evening, Goodison will be absolutely rocking. Just because they've not been at the races lately doesn't mean they have bad players. Far from it, in fact. Jordan Pickford is a legitimate number one, Michael Keane is a quality defender, while we all know the capabilities of both Gylfi Sigurdsson and Richarlison. Sprinkle in Lucas Digne's drive and desire from the left-back spot and Iwobi's directness, this is a side stacked with talent.
First and foremost, it's about keeping things tight at the back. After keeping two clean sheets in their opening pair of fixtures, Everton hasn't managed to post a shut-out since. Again, it comes back to expectation. When they take on the likes of Sheffield United and Aston Villa, the onus is firmly on The Toffees to be the assertive force. Against City, they'll be allowed to sit back and soak up pressure. That'll suit Silva's boys down to the ground.
Then it's about taking your chances on the break. Pace is so vital on the counter and when you've got the likes of Richarlison, Kean, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and even Theo Walcott, Everton can hurt City - particularly as Pep Guardiola's backline will be somewhat makeshift. It's about forcing the opponents into committing those cynical fouls early into the game, in order to prevent them doing so later on when they're tired, leggy and on yellow cards so they have to tread carefully.
Although it hasn't been an ideal start, Everton still has what it takes to turn things around. This is a long, arduous season. All it takes is one positive result to get the confidence flowing and the atmosphere around the whole club can change in an instant. What better way to do it then arguably the best team we've seen in the Premier League era? and I give them every chance to upset the applecart.
Everton needs a season kick-starter, picking up a positive result against the Champions of England could well be the perfect tonic.