Few people would have imagined that when Everton went to the Etihad Stadium in December 2010 and comfortably won 2-1 that nearly two years on, Manchester City would still be waiting for another home defeat in the Premier League.
But here we are nearly 24 months later and if you needed a perfect example of how far City have progressed in that time, a look at that fixture perfectly underlines it.
On a cold Monday night just before Christmas, a win for the Citizens would have taken them to the top of the Premier League table for first time since Roberto Mancini was in short shorts, but in one of the last cases of ‘typical City’ – the historical affliction that meant defeat was always grasped from the jaws of victory – the blue side of Manchester fluffed their lines and Everton came away with a fully merited three points.
But more than just a home defeat to a good side, it was seen as proof that despite all the money that had been spent on attracting the top players in the world, City were still not ready for a tilt at the title and were still lacking fundamental ingredients that their near neighbours have possessed in abundance for 20 years.
And of course, that was proved to be the case as United went on to win the league, leaving City to finish in third position, nine points behind and never really in contention when the business end of the season arrived.
But an FA Cup final victory at the end of that campaign – set up by a semi-final victory over their great rivals – instilled a winning mentality and, domestically at least, City haven’t looked back.
Winning the league title for the first time since 1968 was a brilliant moment for the club and it was built predominantly on their home form, which has been so impressive since that defeat to Everton.
You could not have predicted it, but City haven’t lost in the 36 league games at the Etihad since defeat to the Toffees. Only three of them have been drawn and if you are winning 36 out of 39 home matches then you are bound to be in contention for the title, which of course City are again once more.
Sitting in second place just one point behind United, the champions are still unbeaten after 14 games and are the first team in Premier League history to avoid defeat in the first 14 games in two consecutive seasons.
I don’t think anybody believes they can match Arsenal’s Invincibles, but I also don’t think their first defeat is going to come when Everton head along the M62. You can get 11/2 on an away win, with the draw at 27/10, but the key here is to get better value than the 11/20 on a home victory.
Everton seem to be winning many plaudits for their performances, but they aren’t winning any games. It was generally agreed David Moyes’ side were better than Arsenal during the midweek 1-1 draw at Goodison Park, but their failure to secure all the points means they have now won just three of their last 13 fixtures in all competitions and there is no other way to dress that statistic up – it is a hugely disappointing return.
With a run like that, I have no confidence in them upsetting City – even when taking into account their astounding recent record against the champions. The Toffees have won ten of the last 13 against City, which is a pretty incredible run.
But I don’t think that will continue on Saturday. City have taken a while to get going this season, but they are clicking into gear and I like the 7/4 that they beat Everton without conceding, which would return £55 for anyone backing it with their free £20 bet after registering with bwin.
City have kept five clean sheets in their last six league fixtures, which has coincided with two things: Mancini’s decision to ditch the ill-judged experiment with 3-5-2 and his decision to ditch Joleon Lescott, whose presence in the City team and England set-up has always baffled me – he is painfully average.
But with Matija Nastasic, the young Serbian centre-back, performing very well in Lescott’s place, City look really solid and they can see off Everton with little fuss.
Moyes’ team have won just two of their seven away league fixtures (Aston Villa and Swansea) and have failed to win at West Bromwich Albion, Wigan Athletic, Queens Park Rangers, Fulham and Reading – why are they going to win at City?
The trip to the Etihad is Everton’s first real test on the road this season and on the evidence so far they aren’t going to pass it. This is City all day for me and I’ll be on the 7/4 that they win to nil.