Writer: Andy Leggott
Date:Sunday December 31 2006
City of Manchester Stadium
City start the New Year on the back of successive 1-0 away wins at Sheffield United and West Ham. It was perhaps important that the away form picked up as fortress Eastlands is suddenly looking far from secure.
Both Spurs and Bolton took the points in the last two home games with both sides being 2 up before City even woke up.
Hopefully lessons have been learnt on their travels and City don't attempt to try and come back from 2 behind again when we barely score 1 a game ourselves.
Everton should provide a reasonable test but shouldn't be feared. They have managed some good results so far and come to Eastlands on the back of a 3-0 win at home to Newcastle. However, like most Premiership sides, they are prone to their bad days and are certainly beatable.
Hopefully the Christmas results have inspired people to drag themselves to the game. A bumper bank holiday crowd supporting City to victory would be the ideal start to 2007.
Stuart Pearce tells his players not to take it easy after two wins on the road over Christmas.
'I told the players before the Sheffield game that we were involved in 19 cup finals. Now we are involved in 17.
'We are not under the illusion that there won't be any more tough times ahead of us. There has been a steely resilience about our play in the last two games and we have won three of our last four away matches.
'But the league is going to continue to be extremely tight and congested and probably in mid-April there will be at least 10 teams either looking over their shoulders or in the relegation zone.'
City go into tomorrow's game still without the suspended Joey Barton. Long term absentees Sun Jihai, Hamann, Sinclair and Reyna are all still missing. Pearce has the option to stay with the defensive formation that took the points over Christmas or may prefer to go 4-4-2 and look for the win. If he takes the latter option expect Onouha to drop to the bench and Richards to move back to right back. Samaras could return for Corradi.
Scored a late equaliser at Goodison earlier in the season. Now the transfer window is open the focus is going to be on him big time. How will he respond?
Everton should remain unchanged. Stubbs is still missing after sitting out the last three games through injury.
Back scoring goals and always a threat. The defence will have to be careful in their tackles, particularly in the area.
Everton sit 7th against City's 10th in the Premiership.
Both clubs have had good Christmas periods so far with City taking 6 points against Everton's 7 from three games.
Last season's fixture saw City win 2-0 with goals from Mills and Vassell.
Earlier in the season City grabbed a deserved point at Goodison, Micah Richards equalising Andy Johnson's earlier effort with the last kick of the game.
Uriah Rennie ..... Has his moments but there are worse.
City to buil on their new found resolve and steal it with another 1-0 victory.
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Date:Sunday December 31 2006
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