Everton will look to battle their inconsistency when they lock horns with arguably the most consistent side in Europe at the moment in Manchester City. The fixture was initially scheduled to be held in December, but an outbreak of Coronavirus within the Manchester City camp forced it to be postponed.
As both sides contest the rescheduled fixture on Thursday (IST) at Goodison Park, there will be no love lost between them. Everton were considered realistic challengers to the Premier League title at the start of the season, but the Toffees tapered off and now face a challenge in terms of booking even a top-four berth.
Carlo Ancelotti will know they cannot go from beating Tottenham Hotspur 5-4 in the FA Cup to stealing a late point at Manchester United in the 3-3 draw and then following it up with a shocking 2-0 defeat to relegation-battlers Fulham.
However, not all hope is lost. Everton will still have a game in hand over all the teams above them in the table after the meeting with City on Thursday. Should they win that extra game, they could move to within just two points of Chelsea, who occupy fourth-place owing to their superior goal difference over West Ham United.
Manchester City have re-established themselves as the champions-elect in England courtesy of their remarkable 16-game winning streak in all competitions. With Pep Guardiola also setting his sights on the Champions League, City must ensure they extend their lead over the chasing pack at the summit of the points table. The trip to Merseyside on Thursday is another opportunity for them to do so.
James Rodriguez is unlikely to feature after limping off with an injury during the defeat to Fulham. However, Allan, who returned to the bench for the clash, could be in line to mark his return to the line-up. Everton top-scorer Dominic Calvert-Lewin is also unavailable due to injury, meaning new-recruit Josh King could start at the top.
Jordan Pickford is also close to returning from injury, but it remains to be seen if Everton opt to involve him before the Merseyside derby on Saturday. Additionally, both Alex Iwobi and Michael Keane will also be hopeful of earning recalls to the side.
The sparkling display by Ilkay Gundogan in the win over Tottenham Hotspur ensured his dream run continued, but he was later withdrawn due to a groin problem. It is unlikely that Gundogan will feature against Everton.
Kevin De Bruyne and Nathan Ake are also ruled out due to their injuries, but Ruben Dias is expected to return after missing the win over Spurs due to illness. Riyad Mahrez could also get the nod on the flanks since Phil Foden is expected to drop into midfield to cope with the absence of Gundogan.
Everton: Robin Olsen/Jordan Pickford (GK); Ben Godfrey, Michael Keane, Mason Holgate, Lucas Digne, Abdoulaye Doucoure, Ben Davies, Alex Iwobi, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Richarlison, Joshua King
Manchester City: Ederson (GK); Kyle Walker, Ruben Dias, John Stones, Joao Cancelo, Rodri, Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez, Gabriel Jesus, Raheem Sterling