Everton v Manchester City
Saturday March 31, 17:30
Live on BT Sport 1

After the magic 40 points, what comes next?

Everton are surely safe from relegation now, which at various stages this season didn't seem like a given, so there is some joy to be taken from that achievement. However, now it's about planning for next season, and if he is to lead the club in the long term, manager Sam Allardyce must start to really put his imprint on the team. Of course, another transfer window in the summer will help him do that, but he must also start to get the best out of the expensive talent he already has at his disposal. Of course, it is not certain that Allardyce will be retained, with highly impressive Shakhtar Donetsk coach Paulo Fonseca continually linked with a move to Merseyside.
The Toffees' recent home form has lifted them clear of danger, with three wins on the bounce at Goodison Park. Everton have started scoring more regularly (12 goals in the last eight outings), but the defending is still suspect. Fifty goals have been leaked, a defensive record that is by some distance the worst in the top half.
Their case won't be helped by the absence of centre-backs Ashley Williams (suspended) and Eliaquim Mangala (injured), but at least full-backs Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman are now fully fit after long absences.
Cenk Tosun is settling in after a tricky start to his Everton career, and he has now scored four goals in his last three Premier League appearances. Jordan Pickford will be on a high after keeping another clean sheet for England in the Netherlands, and will be looking to improve on a record of just one shut-out in his last 14 club appearances.

Guardiola has bent English football to his will, and Europe awaits

It took him slightly longer than he would have liked (and a season longer than I predicted), but Pep Guardiola has seen his style of football flourish in England. The naysayers who derided his achievements at Barcelona and Bayern Munich as ordinary and commonplace have been confounded, as the Catalan has made at least a temporary mockery of the claim that the Premier League is one of the most competitive in Europe.
City have won the EFL Cup, and they are 16 points clear at the top of the league heading into the Easter festivities. People will point to the eye-watering investment in the squad, but similar money has been spent in the red half of Manchester, and United are choking on City's exhaust fumes. The Citizens could have been forgiven for taking their foot off the accelerator on their way to the title, but instead they have smoothly moved into top gear, winning their last four league matches.
The challenge of facing Liverpool in the Champions League quarter-finals looms large on the horizon, so Guardiola may shuffle his pack. Sergio Aguero missed both of Argentina's friendlies, and isn't fully fit, while keeper Ederson has a point to prove having seemingly slipped behind Alisson in the pecking order for Brazil.

Everton hoping to maintain record against Pep

City boss Guardiola is yet to vanquish Everton in three attempts since arriving in England, but he is a skinny 1.37 to do so on Saturday evening.
City's form is generally outstanding in the league, but it's worth noting that on the road they have only won two of their last five in the top flight, a run that includes a 4-3 loss at Liverpool and draws at Crystal Palace and Burnley.
Everton are chasing a fourth straight home victory, and they hammered Manchester City 4-0 in this fixture last season. There's an argument to give them a +1.5 cushion on the Asian Handicap at 1.86.

Everton could bloody City's nose

The temptation is to think that Allardyce will batten down the hatches and try to eke out a draw, but Everton's recent goalscoring form suggests they can do some damage to a City defence that hasn't shut the Toffees out in the last three meetings.
Given that City have only failed to score in one Premier League game all season, we can rely on them for at least one goal, so then it becomes a question of whether you think Everton will score.
At odds of 2.02Both Teams To Score is worth backing.
Back Both Teams To Score at 2.02

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