Everton-City promises to be a feisty affair after Covid drama
Ready for a grudge match? Everton were furious when their clash with Man City was called off at four hours’ notice amid Covid chaos… now, with Pep Guardiola insisting his side WILL win, no fans and Dominic Calvert-Lewin ruled out, expect a feisty affair
- Manchester City’s rearranged trip to Everton is to take place on Wednesday
- Everton were livid when the original game was cancelled hours before kick-off
- City trained successfully 48 hours later despite a significant Covid outbreak
- That only added to Everton’s frustration and now the scheduling is irritating
- Everton take on City on Wednesday before a Merseyside derby at the weekend
Looking back, Everton lost a lot when the decision was made on December 28 to postpone their home game against Manchester City due to a Covid-19 outbreak.
They were second, three points off then-leaders Liverpool, boasting a relatively clean injury report card and with Merseyside in Tier 2 under the government’s coronavirus tiers, Everton were ready to host 2,000 fans for the visit of City.
Beating a side as stacked and as deep as City is difficult enough at the best of times but Dominic Calvert-Lewin was enjoying his best season in an Everton shirt and a Covid-hit City side were, many thought, there to be taken.
Carlo Ancelotti (left) will lock horns with Pep Guardiola (right) on Wednesday evening
The decision to call off the original match was made just four hours prior to the kick-off time
That was until the clock hit 4pm and what was set to be an 8pm kick-off under the lights at Goodison was postponed. An emergency meeting by the Premier League claimed the move was a ‘precaution’ due to rise in cases at City ‘creating uncertainty’.
Everton were furious. Much of their advantage, their gains, would be gone when the rearranged fixture rolled around.
And so it has. Now Everton prepare to face City three days before a Merseyside derby at Anfield against Liverpool. Now Everton prepare to face City without leading goalscorer Calvert-Lewin. Now Everton prepare to face City without any supporters there to watch. Now Everton prepare to face City 16 points off the top and without a win in their last four home games.
So is there added spice on Wednesday night? You better believe it.
‘Our players were prepared for the game, as were both the team staff and everyone at Goodison,’ an Everton statement read on the day the original fixture was postponed.
‘Match day is the most important date in our calendar. And this was a big one.
‘While Everton will always have public safety uppermost, we will be requesting full disclosure of all the information that Manchester City provided to the Premier League so the club can be clear on why this decision was taken.’
Full disclosure, that’s what Everton wanted. Answers.
Why, if City possessed the necessary 14 players to fulfil the fixture, was this game postponed? Everton were keen to know.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin (right) was in a rich vein of form leading up to that December contest
Now Ancelotti (right) is without his star striker, after he was ruled out through an injury
Everton were left amazed at how the situation was handled, specifically a lack of communication from the League and City.
Kyle Walker, Gabriel Jesus and two staff members tested positive for Covid-19 on Christmas Day. On the day of the game, new cases among City’s bubble were revealed. The ‘security of the bubble’ had been compromised, said City.
‘The most important thing is the welfare of the people,’ Guardiola said.
‘This is not a joke. You can be positive and nothing or you can be positive and be in trouble.’
The former Barcelona boss also caught the attention of some Everton fans on social media when he seemingly promised his side would come away with three points in the rearranged fixture.
‘Hopefully when we go to Goodison [Lucas] Digne, Richarlison, Allan, James [Rodriguez] can play and we will beat them,’ Guardiola added.
City reported to their City Football Academy on Tuesday, the day after the scheduled match with Everton, for emergency tests after five players and at least two staff members had contracted the virus.
Those results all came back negative on Wednesday afternoon and the team trained thereafter. Everton’s frustrations boiled over once more.
Part of Everton’s annoyance stemmed from City training two days after the postponement
‘Safety remains our No 1 priority, and the club will continue to proceed with great caution,’ read a City statement.
‘The first-team training buildings have undergone a deep clean over the past 48 hours, and the majority of these facilities will remain closed, with only essential operations around training resuming.’
City’s next game, away at Chelsea, went ahead without any hiccups and City won 3-1.
The sides were now level on points after Everton had lost to West Ham. Everton were now sixth and fans, it was announced, would need to stay away from games once more due to rising number of cases.
And so there is an added edge to this one, not least because Everton are without Calvert-Lewin while a near full-health City look to stretch their winning run to 17 games.
‘I don’t know how much chance we have to win against Manchester City – but we have a chance,’ Ancelotti, talking in his pre-match press conference on Tuesday, said.
City are now in a great run of form and will look to stretch their winning sequence to 17 games
‘Usually, in this kind of game, we did really well, so I have confidence.’
Ancelotti was pragmatic amid the furore of the postponement back in December. Guardiola revealed he spoke to Ancelotti on the phone without animosity, a different tone to the club’s call for ‘full disclosure’.
Whether resentment remains, who knows? Ancelotti is looking to gee up his players in the wake of defeat by Fulham.
Were they to beat City they will do it without fans, do it without their top scorer and do it as the first team to beat City in 17 games.
Unlike back in December, the chips are stacked against Everton in what has all the hallmarks of a revenge mission.
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