Same rivals, fresh focus

City's David Silva (on the ball) being challenged by Everton's Muhamed Besic (right) and Seamus Coleman in the League Cup semi-final first leg which Everton won 2-1.
City's David Silva (on the ball) being challenged by Everton's Muhamed Besic (right) and Seamus Coleman in the League Cup semi-final first leg which Everton won 2-1. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Everton lead City after League Cup s-final first leg but many changes seen for EPL clash

LONDON • Manchester City and Everton play the second instalment of their league and Cup trilogy today with all parties insisting thoughts of Wembley will go on hold.

The two clubs met in the first leg of their League Cup semi-final at Everton last Wednesday, when the Merseysiders got their noses in front thanks to a 2-1 win.

They will meet again in Manchester on Jan 27 to decide who gets to the final at Wembley, but before that face each other in the Premier League at Eastlands.

"The games are not related," City manager Manuel Pellegrini told a press conference yesterday.

"Everton maybe will be related to Crystal Palace as the players will have less than 72 hours to recover. Those two games are more linked than the other games against Everton.

"Every game is different - we must try to beat Everton tomorrow, then we think about Crystal Palace. We don't know if there will be the same players, the same performance - so much can change in 15 days."

DIFFERENT STAKES

Playing a team three times in three weeks will have a role in terms of how you prepare the game but not in a conscious manner.

ROBERTO MARTINEZ, Everton manager, on preparing his team for three clashes with Manchester City this month.

His counterpart Roberto Martinez agreed that the stakes differ.

"The game on Wednesday is so important in the league for different reasons; they're trying to get that top spot and we're trying to get as high up as we can, and the three points are important in themselves," said the Spaniard, as Everton occupied 11th place in the table with 27 points after 20 games, while City were three points behind leaders Arsenal (42 points).

"So I don't think we need to look any further than that. Playing a team three times in three weeks will have a role in terms of how you prepare the game but not in a conscious manner."

Both sides are likely to show changes from a week ago, with City's former Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling hoping to get a crack at his one-time local rivals.

"I've never come up against the same team as often as this and it is a pretty quick turnaround," he said.

"But I didn't play in the League Cup semi-final first leg last week so I obviously hope to be involved this time."

Midfielders David Silva and Yaya Toure, who missed the 3-0 victory over Norwich in the FA Cup, will return to the fold against the Toffees.

Pellegrini, however, confirmed that striker Wilfried Bony, midfielders Fernandinho and Samir Nasri, as well as defenders Vincent Kompany, Eliaquim Mangala will miss today's game.

Pellegrini even admitted that his skipper Kompany may not return until the business end of the season owing to his latest calf injury.

"We are still trying to find out the reasons for so many injuries," said the Chilean. "Myself I'm not so sure, maybe the last part of the season."

Martinez rotated his squad for their 2-0 FA Cup win over League Two side Dagenham and Redbridge. But he is expected to have top scorer Romelu Lukaku, who headed the late winner against City in the League Cup clash, back today.

Tim Howard may return in goal for Everton but defender Seamus Coleman and midfielder Tom Cleverley are out through injury.

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MAN CITY V EVERTON

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 13, 2016, with the headline 'SAME RIVALS, FRESH FOCUS'. Print Edition | Subscribe