Man City travel to Goodison Park knowing that nothing less than a win is needed to have any chance of overhauling leaders Man United.
Manchester City must reduce the 12-point deficit at the top of the Premier League before the upcoming Manchester derby to have any hope of keeping their title, Roberto Mancini said on Friday.
The City manager currently trails Alex Ferguson and Manchester United ahead of City’s weekend visit to Everton and the leaders’ home game with struggling Reading.
The all-important derby at Old Trafford is looming on Monday, April 8 — a fixture that looked likely at one stage to decide the outcome of this season’s championship race.
But City’s collapse at the start of the year, in which a five-point disadvantage quickly grew to a dozen, means that, even with seven fixtures remaining after the derby, Mancini’s only hope lies in United dropping points in their next two fixtures.
“We hope that happens,” he said. “But United are playing at home against Reading and then play Sunderland.
“We hope maybe we can play the derby nine points, seven points, even 10 points behind. Less than 12 would be better because from the derby to the end of the season, they have three or four difficult games.”
Mancini has also added his voice to the support for English football’s standing in Europe, despite the disappointment endured by Premier League clubs in the Champions League this season.
The reigning English champions failed to progress beyond the group stage while Arsenal this week became the fourth, and final, team from the country’s top flight to exit the tournament before the quarter-finals.
But Mancini will not entertain talk of English football having slipped from the high standards set in recent seasons.
“Don’t say English football has gone down,” said Mancini. “Last year, Chelsea won the Champions League. English football has three teams in the Europa League quarter-finals. That is football.
“For three or four years, English teams won the Champions League, got to the final, did very well. For one year, maybe, there are teams that are better than the English teams.
“But this is stupid to say English football has gone down. It’s impossible to win every year. Like in Italy, we win one year, we’re the best teams in the Champions League; we don’t win, it’s a disaster.
“That’s football. If it’s the same team winning every year, football is boring. Every year a different team can win.”
Mancini also insisted that the current legal problems facing forward Carlos Tevez will have no impact on his form on the field.
Tevez scored a hat-trick in last week’s 5-0 FA Cup win over Barnsley, just days after being stopped by police and arrested on suspicion of driving while disqualified.
The Argentina international has since been charged with the offence and driving without insurance but Mancini said he was not concerned.
“If he has made a mistake, it (prosecution) is correct,” said Mancini. “Everyone should respect the rules. But I don’t think it will be a big problem.”
Mancini also confirmed that current injury victims Sergio Aguero (knee) and Vincent Kompany (calf) will be rested until after the upcoming international break to allow them extra time to recover.
The Premier League home game with Newcastle United on March 30 will see the return of Mancini’s key forward and defender.
Venue Goodison Park, Saturday 12.45pm
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Last season Everton 1 Man City 0
Referee L Probert
This season’s matches 17 Y52, R1, 3.12 cards per game
Subs from Springthorpe, Neville, Barkley, Hitzlsperger, Duffy, Oviedo, Naismith, Anichebe, Vellios
Injured Howard (back, unknown), Jagielka (ankle, unknown), Hibbert (calf, unknown)
Form guide WLLDWD
Disciplinary record Y42 R2
Leading scorer Fellaini 11
Subs from Pantilimon, Wright, García, Kolarov, Razak, Sinclair, Lescott, Nasri, Guidetti
Injured Richards, Agüero, Maicon (all knee, all 30 Mar), Rodwell (hamstring, 30 Mar), Kompany (calf, 30 Mar)
Form guide WWLDDW
Disciplinary record Y45 R3
Leading scorer Dzeko 12
Manchester City’s only win in their last seven Premier League games against Everton came in September 2011, when Mario Balotelli and James Milner scored in a 2-0 home victory.
Everton have won each of their last three home matches against City. It’s 92 years since they last won four successive home matches in this fixture.
The two clubs met on this date in the top-flight 101 years ago; City won 4-0 at their then-Hyde Road ground.
Everton’s FA Cup defeat by Wigan last weekend was only their second home defeat in 17 matches in all competitions this season. Their other defeat came against Chelsea in December.
The Toffees have only failed to score in four of their 28 league games this campaign; however, three of those have come in the last seven matches.
David Moyes’s side have conceded more headed goals (14) in the Premier League this season than any other club.
Everton have drawn 12 of their league games, a joint-league high with Stoke and Norwich.
If selected, Leon Osman will be making his 300th start in all competitions for Everton, while Nikica Jelavic will be appearing in his 50th match for the Toffees. He has scored 18 goals for the club.
Victory would provide Manchester City with their 1,800th win in league football.
Manchester City have won their last two Premier League matches and kept clean sheets in them both.
They have shut out the opposition in six of their last eight league matches, and kept a league-high 13 clean sheets in 28 games this season.
Roberto Mancini’s side have only dropped four points from winning positions this season, winning 14 games and drawing two. It’s the equal-best record in the Premier League alongside Manchester United and Arsenal.
City’s only defeat in 13 meetings against top-half opposition came in December’s Manchester derby against United (W7, D5, L1).
Man City 16/1 to win 3-0: Everton vs Man City Betting