City seek title heaven on Highway to Hell – EVERTON v MAN CITY

Trips down the East Lancs Road to Merseyside, whilst not pointless, are often less than meaningful for Manchester City.

That has to have changed by 19.30hrs today if Manuel Pellegrini’s men want to remain masters of their own Premier League destiny.

Same again Sergio - If Aguero finds the net at Goodison it could spell title glory. Courtesy @MCFC

Same again Sergio – If Aguero finds the net at Goodison it could spell title glory. Courtesy @MCFC

It’s an amazing 13-day turnaround of fortunes for City who, if they can slay their bogiest of big bad bogey sides, will be just 180 minutes away from a second PL title in three years.

Having clawed back two-thirds of what looked like an unassailable nine point Liverpool lead a fortnight ago, City are poised to hit top slot if they can overcome their Everton nemesis.

One win in their last 15 top flight visits to Goodison hardly bodes well, but if City are to write themselves into English football’s history books, they have to banish a fair few chapters that haven’t gone so well.

Everton away is City’s least likely to succeed sojourn outside the Etihad every season, with much of it down to the unlikely football genius of a certain David Moyes.

Team GB - City Premier League Champion Gaz Baz will be a spectator at Goodison. Courtesy @MCFC

Team GB – City Premier League Champion Gaz Baz will be a spectator at Goodison. Courtesy @MCFC

Despite a vociferous lobbying campaign and banner waving protests, the #SaveOurDave #SOD populist movement by City supporters, failed to keep Wee Davey in The Swamp hot-seat.

The Blue Mooners adopted a polar opposite stance when 3G – Gollum the Glaswegian Gargoyle – was at the Everton helm. Moyes had the hex on City with 12 wins and four draws from 22 games played.

He was a formidable foe as his Everton sides of recent years always lived up to the adage that ‘the sum was greater than the parts’, their collective spirit, application and skill overcoming the individual talents of supposedly ‘superior’, on paper at least, City line-ups.

Up for the challenge - Pablo Zabaleta and James Milner embody City's fighting spirit. Courtesy @MCFC

Up for the challenge – Pablo Zabaleta and James Milner embody City’s fighting spirit. Courtesy @MCFC

His successor, Roberto Martinez, has, quite rightly been lauded this season, for a much more stylish and attractive form of play. A club record PL points haul and an entertainment value that far exceeds his predecessor’s offerings, have made Martinez an instant hit on Merseyside.

It’s a new football philosophy that had taken the Toffees to the brink of Champions League qualification and, while still mathematically possible, Everton may have to settle for the poisoned chalice that is the Europa League.

Perversely, it’s a playing style that might suit this evening’s visitors, having crumbled so often under the physical presence of Everton sides of old, and the white hot hostility oozing from every home supporter.

Penalty clause - If City can win at Everton it'll be Liverpool who suffer most. Courtesy @MCFC

Penalty clause – If City can win at Everton it’ll be Liverpool who suffer most. Courtesy @MCFC

Losses to Crystal Palace and Southampton have cost Everton dear and, in so doing, presented the Gwladys Street Stand with an unpalatable dilemma.

Do they unleash their usual cacophony of intimidation, venting their spleen on a historically infuriatingly brittle and uncomfortable looking City, or do they trade in their tribal tendencies for a low key pragmatic approach?

Evertonians – pig sick of having the media’s Liverpool love-fest rammed down their throats – know that a City win dramatically diminishes the prospect of the PL trophy residing at Anfield, virtually putting the kibosh on the crowning of Queen Brenda and canonization of Saint Stevie Geeeeeeeeeeeeee.

Blue Alliance - Everton fanatic Iain Evans models his specially commissioned t-shirt for this evening's clash. He wants a City win!

Blue Alliance – Everton fanatic Iain Evans models his specially commissioned t-shirt for this evening’s clash. He wants a City win!

It’s a scenario that holds great appeal on the Goodison terraces, if not with Martinez and the ‘professionals’ in the dressing room.

Much has been said in respect of the preservation of the integrity of the Premier League, the responsibility imbued within the players and the fact that Everton still retain the slimmest of prospects of snatching 4th place from Arsenal.

Pellegrini knows not to expect any favouritism on the pitch but, and it could be a telling ‘but’, if the Goodison faithful are not baying for their seasonal pound of blue Mancunian flesh, it can only help City.

Magical recovery - Merlin is back! Courtesy @MCFC

Magical recovery – Merlin is back! Courtesy @MCFC

The anticipated return of David Silva would be an even bigger boost than the temporary cessation of hostilities.

When the Spanish wizard disappeared on a stretcher during the 3-1 win over WBA, it somehow symbolised City’s season – a time of magical highs that promised ever more wonderment, but one that would ultimately conclude in despair and frustration.

To all intent and purposes, City’s title hopes went up in a puff of dust in the space of four days, in which they dropped five points against Liverpool and Sunderland.

Silva’s ‘miraculous’ recovery, coupled with Liverpool and Chelsea’s unexpected reversals, have revived City beyond their wildest expectation. Their hopes – nay belief – that they can now be champions, burns fierce. By comparison, Lazarus’ Biblical return from death looks like a mere adrenaline rush.

Kompany Commander -Vincent wants that winning feeling when he hits the East Lancs Road tonight. Courtesy @MCFC

Kompany Commander -Vincent wants that winning feeling when he hits the East Lancs Road tonight. Courtesy @MCFC

In a season where City have been bedevilled by injury more than most (Arsenal apart), Pellegrini has the unexpected luxury of as fit a squad as you’ll find after 35 gruelling PL games.

The vertebrae of his team has been restored in the vital last few hours of this, his debut season in England. The sight of a team sheet comprising Kompany, Yaya Toure, Silva and Aguero should send shivers of anticipation down the spine of every City supporter.

The speed merchant of Sevilla, Jesus Navas, and the promising Matija Nastasic are the only notable absentees from a City side, that although often tipped as PL favourites, have only rarely actually topped the table.

Voracious appetite - Alvaro Negredo is desperate to get back to scoring ways, just as he did against Everton at the Etihad. Courtesy MCFC

Voracious appetite – Alvaro Negredo is desperate to get back to scoring ways, just as he did against Everton at the Etihad. Courtesy MCFC

Tonight could be one of those rarities and they could so easily be dislodged in less than 24 hours depending on the fortunes of Chelsea and Liverpool tomorrow and on Monday night.

Everton skipper Phil Jagielka returns after a 10 week absence, whereas ex-City captain Sylvain Distin could miss out with a hamstring injury. It could mean John Stones, the outstanding young England prospect continues at the heart of the Toffee’s defence.

Special Agent, Gareth Barry, parachuted into Everton on the deadline of last summer’s transfer window, will be missing under the terms of his loan from City.

Once a blue always a blue, just different shades - Gareth Barry in his Everton colours

Once a blue always a blue, just different shades – Gareth Barry in his Everton colours

GB, who remains high in the affections of City supporters, has had an outstanding season after winning over any early Goodison doubters. He is the type of player who, apart from the fans who witness his talent and work rate on a weekly basis, is dismissed by many as ‘Captain Slow’ with a low perceived worth.

Nothing could be further from the truth and having been reluctantly squeezed out of the Etihad, Barry has flourished. Pellegrini conceded that, with the benefit of hindsight, he would have retained the England veteran – a statement that speaks volumes of both men.

At the time of his departure Read But Never Red playfully suggested it was part of a Pellegrini masterplan, to send Barry in as an undercover asset with the sole purpose of stemming the annual flow of six or four points from City to Everton.

Cult hero - Martin Demichelis could be a new breed of MCFC PL Champion. Courtesy @MCFC

Cult hero – Martin Demichelis could be a new breed of MCFC PL Champion. Courtesy @MCFC

Barry is one of only a few who have been champions in sky blue.  Eight or nine of this evening’s anticipated City starting line-up will share that distinction, with the exception of Martin Demichelis, Fernandinho and possibly Javi Garcia.

It bodes well that the majority can draw upon the experience garnered from 2012, when City reeled in Manure’s eight point advantage during a six-game winning streak.

If they are to achieve immortality in City folklore they only have to achieve half of that task this time around.

Three wins and a superior goal difference would see them crowned as champions, irrespective of the endeavours of Rodgers and Mourinho.

270 minutes from history - Can Pellegrini win the title in his first season? Courtesy @MCFC

270 minutes from history – Can Pellegrini win the title in his first season? Courtesy @MCFC

It’s a truly tantalizing prospect, one that seemed away with the fairies and over the Blue Moon less than a fortnight ago.

Everton away is the equivalent of having to go to Newcastle in the penultimate game in 2012. It is, and was, a tough looking proposition but, having been handed such unexpected lifelines there can be no excuse for any more faltering in this most unpredictable of seasons.

Just as they did at St James’ Park, City will look towards their Ivorian colossus as the instigator, the inspiration for victory.

Driving force - Yaya is an inspiration for City. Courtesy @MCFC

Driving force – Yaya is an inspiration for City. Courtesy @MCFC

Yaya was one of only two City players, to be selected for the PFA PL team of the season, (what does that tell you about the intelligence of top flight footballers?) and could become the second midfielder in PL history to hit 20+ goals in a PL season.

How very apt it would be if he progresses from 19 today and snares three precious points to boot.

Battle Cry - COME ON CITY! Courtesy @MCFC

Battle Cry – COME ON CITY! Courtesy @MCFC

It could be the start of Sky Blue Heaven and render the return trip along the Liverpool – East Lancashire Road as a damn sight more than the usual Highway from Hell.

  

#TrustOurMP

By David Walker

www.readbutneverred.com

@ReadButNeverRed  PLEASE FOLLOW OUR NEW TWITTER ACCOUNT

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24 Comments

  1. May 3, 2014  9:47 am by Ian Reply

    Great read Dave, sadly that & the accompanying bacon butty haven't yet calmed the nerves. Everything crossed and stay on the path to glory City!

    • May 3, 2014  10:22 am by David Walker Reply

      Eat more pig! Cheers fella #TrustOurMP

      • May 3, 2014  11:30 am by John Evans TT Reply

        David you preview, articulacy personified, although I am not so sure about the 'eat more pig!' comment!

        Anyway, let’s hope its Martinez whose bacon's cooked today. I’ll throw in a bottle of brown sauce if we win.

        • May 3, 2014  1:48 pm by David Walker Reply

          Sorry if I was hamming it up with my previous comment - if I I said I was really sorry would you think I was telling porkies?

  2. May 3, 2014  9:53 am by carol Reply

    dare to dream Davy, dare to dream

    • May 3, 2014  10:23 am by David Walker Reply

      Keeping eyes open at ALL TIMES. Be alert, as you will already know, your country will always need lerts!

  3. May 3, 2014  10:26 am by guy Burke Reply

    Lots of nerves today, after my bravado predictions last week do not have the same vibe today. When i was a lad City had a great record v Everton home and away. If the team are to taken seriously they need to win the next 3 with style, it is the only way to shut the haters up ! Come on City

    • May 3, 2014  10:29 am by David Walker Reply

      Three scrappy wins wil do me - I JUST DON'T CARE ;-)

  4. May 3, 2014  10:48 am by Susan richardson Reply

    It's in our hands attack attack attack!!! No bus parking allowed.

    • May 3, 2014  1:50 pm by David Walker Reply

      Absolutely - remove the brake pads and release the handbrake.

  5. May 3, 2014  10:54 am by Pete Lynch Reply

    If Yaya, Silva and Aguero turn up with the infatiguable Fernandinho its ours all day

  6. May 3, 2014  10:59 am by Andy Devereux Reply

    Tough tough game today but if we turn up and play like we all know we can then all will be well.........heres hoping.

    • May 3, 2014  1:51 pm by David Walker Reply

      Absolutely - I am a big advocate of Pellegrini but unless something outrageous goes against us there can be no excuses.

  7. May 3, 2014  11:11 am by Richard Cooper Reply

    100% from kick off and consign the Goodison bogey to history.
    An early goal would be a perfect start - and with Martinez at the helm I think we shall see an "open" good game.
    Hopefully we shall be "posting" to you on Monday with smiles on our faces !

    • May 3, 2014  1:56 pm by David Walker Reply

      Hopefully posting by Sunday - Read But Never Red won't be hanging about if we're surging towards the title ;-)

  8. May 3, 2014  11:54 am by DOUGLAS HENSHAW Reply

    Can we do it Dave YES WE CAN. Tonight we city fans will be hign as kites or as low as you can get. Surely not even we can blow it this time weve been given an opportunity to shut the I love Liverpool brigade & the every increasing arsehole that is Brendan Rodgers up. How the tide has turned most netruals want us not Liverpool to win it even scum fans. Lets hope were screaming from the roof tops about our team tonight my nerves are already building going to be a long 90 mins but I think we can & should do it. Great blog Dave sets it up nicley. #DareToDream #TrustOurMP

  9. May 3, 2014  12:19 pm by Simon Dear Reply

    If we show the required passion , desire , braveness & killer instinct that make Champions , then we can take this to Everton & win at a canter , I feel when it comes down to that real fire in the belly moment then we should not be found wanting , keep ten men on the pitch and no silly mistakes and they wont able to match us , not because they are not capable as they are a good side and have had a great first season under Martinez , but because what is at stake , if the shoe was on the other foot , if Everton came to town to stop the rags winning it , if that one negative result was one that meant our biggest City rivals failing then I would take a 0-1 all day .
    To even earn that right we have to take their heart and show them we are , Champions in waiting.
    Yes we have not been top for a while but we have spent the last 3 months playing catch up and with points in hand always within reach of the summit and for 10 days only have we not been in control of our own destiny .
    Nobody else can truly say that ... Come on City lets mark these two next home games the crowning of Champions!
    Stand proud . Trust our MP .

    • May 3, 2014  2:03 pm by David Walker Reply

      If we were only top for one day and that day was May11th 2014, then job done. It'll be pretty nigh on unforgivable if we screw up now.

  10. May 3, 2014  12:55 pm by simon hancox Reply

    Brill read dave as always ........ iv said we win on g/d for some time now ....... and as kk once "id love it love really love it" if we win it again on g/d just to piss every man an his dog off ....... enjoy the game ..simon

    • May 3, 2014  2:01 pm by David Walker Reply

      Don't start on the canines and the woofers - they love City!

  11. May 3, 2014  2:38 pm by Graham Ward Reply

    Great news that Silva is fit and in the squad.
    I've just got a feeling that we'll go with an unchanged line up for this one. 2-1 City.

    • May 3, 2014  2:50 pm by David Walker Reply

      Depends if his ankle is still sore. Hopefully if he starts on the bench he stays on the bench because it'd mean that all is well and he stays fresh for Wednesday.

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