Manchester City face Everton this weekend, knowing that victory at Goodison, together with a Derby day win over neighbours Manchester United will bring the Premier League title to the Etihad for the third time.
City have been in almost unstoppable form this season, with just Everton, Crystal Palace and Burnley preventing them from taking all three points and only Liverpool beating them in the league. With form like that, it isn’t difficult to see why City top the table and hold an incredible sixteen-point lead over United.
But a City victory at Goodison over the years has been somewhat of a challenge rather than routine, with the Blues only recording four victories on Merseyside since the inception of the Premier League in 1992. Of course, that doesn’t take into account the years City spent in the lower divisions, but it still equates to four wins in 21 visits, a statistic manager Pep Guardiola will be hoping to push to 5 in 22.
Apart from Middlesbrough who were relegated last season, Everton are the only side Guardiola has faced and not beaten in the Premier League. Last season’s 1-1 draw at the Etihad was followed by a 4-0 thumping on Merseyside, and this season the Toffees were the only side to take points from Guardiola’s team before Christmas, securing a 1-1 draw back in August.
But the City manager will be buoyed by the fact that, the last time City won the league, a 3-2 win at Goodison played a major part in that success, with two goals from Edin Dzeko and a strike from Sergio Agüero giving City the victory.
But, as we all know, statistics mean absolutely nothing on the field of play, and City will be looking for the creative genius of Kevin de Bruyne, who must surely be in the running for Player of the Year, to inspire them to three more points. And with a visit to Anfield in the Champions League coming up, City will no doubt want to avoid another defeat on Merseyside prior to that game.
If the Blues do win at Goodison, then all eyes will be set on the Manchester Derby on the 7th.
But whatever happens in the next two games, it is still surely a question of when, not if City win lift the Premier League trophy.