The Premier League’s in-form goalscorers, Romelu Lukaku and Sergio Aguero will come face to face when Manchester City visit Goodison Park on Sunday.
Preview: Everton vs Manchester City: Lukaku & Aguero Go Head-to-Head
Lukaku has started the 2015/16 campaign in blistering form, scoring twice and setting up one in the opening two games, while his opposite number Aguero got City up and running in their 3-0 win over Chelsea.
Both sides are unbeaten in the league, with City looking to maintain their 100% record but Goodison Park has traditionally been the scene of the Citizens’ woes, with just three wins in their last 18 visits to L4.
Fresh off the back of impressive and comprehensive 3-0 victories last time out, both teams will fancy their chances of taking all three points on Sunday afternoon, with the spotlight likely to be firmly on Lukaku and Aguero.
Everton have no fresh injury concerns after last weekend’s complete away performance at Southampton, suggesting the starting XI at St. Mary’s will be in line to keep their places.
Kevin Mirallas and Gerard Deulofeu will be hoping to see more minutes on the pitch after returning from minor knocks, the latter getting his boots muddy for a brief spell against Southampton.
Despite the ongoing, systematic tapping-up of John Stones, Roberto Martinez will not consider dropping the young centre-half amid speculation of an imminent transfer request (Liverpool Echo).
Nicolas Otamendi signed in at Eastlands this week for a fee of £32m but the centre-half is only expected to make the bench, with Vincent Kompany and Eliaquim Mangala forming a formidable partnership thus far.
Midfielders Fernando and new signing Fabian Delph are fit and may be in Manuel Pellegrini’s squad, but Pablo Zabaleta will miss out with a knee injury.
If anyone is capable of catapulting Everton back to the dizzy heights of Martinez’s first season in charge in 2013/14 it’s the man perhaps misleadingly (and a little embarrassingly) known as “The Beast”.
Misleading because his physical attributes, including a dominating 6ft 3″ frame, are not his most potent. Instinctive finishing and the top speed of a purring Lamborghini have been the making of the Belgian so far in the Premier League. Combined with powerful running and combative aerial prowess (both on display in a fine performance at St. Mary’s), it’s no wonder Lukaku is targeting the league’s best strikers as a benchmark that is more than attainable on recent form.
“If you want to be one of the best you have to look at the best”, he said referring to Aguero and Diego Costa. Having outscored Aguero so far in this season, the Belgian might not be too far from catching those at the very top.
Aguero scored 23 goals in his debut Premier League season in 2011/12. No stats in this season for Lukaku.
With two goals, an assist and two chances created so far, not to mention the spark ignited with midfielder Ross Barkley, City’s defence will be fearful of Lukaku. Or “The Beast” if we have to call him it.
The Argentinian has not been at his most prolific playing against the Toffees. City often came unstuck against David Moyes’ Everton sides and Aguero has scored just once in the 8 fixtures since his arrival in England. That sent City on their way to a 3-2 win in May 2013, a win which helped them clinch the title from Liverpool once the latter had let it ‘slip’ from their grasp.
He was also forced off injured in this fixture at the Etihad last December, but his threat must not be underestimated. The former Athletico Madrid striker netted 26 league goals last term and will be tipped for the top of the scoring charts this season having got himself off the mark against Chelsea last week.
Pellegrini’s side is littered with players of limitless creativity and they’ve made no less than 32 chances in two league games, while Aguero has had more attempts on goal than any of his team mates (9). The likes of Phil Jagielka and John Stones will need to be at the top of their game to make sure those chances are limited. For the rest, Everton’s defence will be hoping luck is on their side.
This segment should not conclude without mention of the imperious Yaya Toure. So often City’s key man since his arrival from Barcelona in 2010, the Ivorian came in for some criticism last season. But the midfielder has already netted twice and has been central to their 100% record so far. Another world class talent to be written off at your peril.