Pellegrini’s judgment day as Everton trip shapes City title tilt
This match could decide the fate of at least five clubs. In a season that has surprised, shocked and entertained, Goodison Park provides viewing of box office potential as Everton welcome Manchester City.
Manuel Pellegrini’s City must know that a win here will put one hand on the Premier League trophy with their last two games, both at home, regarded winnable against a below-par Christian Benteke-less Aston Villa side and a West Ham outfit with nothing to play for. The visitors are odds-on at 5/6 to win the title for the second time in three years, and know how to do so in dramatic circumstances.
Roberto Martinez has by no means given up on a top four finish, despite knowing that if Arsenal victor over West Brom their chances are up. All they can do is beat City, knowing that if they do, in an ironic twist of fate, momentum is handed back to bitter rivals Liverpool in the title chase.
There’s more irony in the fact that Gareth Barry will not feature as the Toffees face his parent club. He has been a vital component for the club this term, and his absence certainly strengthens City’s chances.
Returning for the home side is key centre half Phil Jagielka, who is expected to slot in alongside the experienced Sylvain Distin. Encouragingly they have won their last four at home against their visitors who have only scored one goal, courtesy of Yaya Toure.
The Ivorian only needs to net one more time to become the second central midfielder to score 20+ in a season, after Frank Lampard achieved the feat with Chelsea in 2009/10. Toure is 13/8 to reach that milestone by being on target here, and has a Goodison goal from his last visit on his CV.
Crucially, David Silva has been named in the City squad after recovering from an ankle injury, though it is unclear whether Pellegrini will risk him from the start. The Spaniard is 5/2 to score at anytime.
Pellegrini faces a selection headache up front. Although Edin Dzeko scored last time out against Crystal Palace, Sergio Aguero has dispatched just once in the last seven games, while Alvaro Negredo has not netted in his last 14 appearances.
For the blue half of Manchester, it all comes down to Everton. In a financial transaction, or a sale it is occasions like this that are often deemed possible deal-breakers. For success, their commission is priceless.