How quickly can things change in football? When these two sides drew 1-1 at the Etihad on 1st December, Manchester City were only three points behind their hated rivals, having been usurped at the top of the Premier League table that weekend, while Everton sat sixth, only three points off third place.
Now as the two sides reconvene at Goodison this Saturday, crisis abounds. The Citizens have fallen to twelve points behind Manchester United, and Everton have slipped to seven points off the top four, and are now behind Liverpool on goal difference, albeit with a game in hand.
But delve further into the troubles of both clubs and the problems are much more than a few dropped points over the winter.
For City, a club that has spent a fortune since Sheikh Mansour took over in 2008, the FA Cup is their only genuine hope for a trophy this season after they reached the semi-finals with a comprehensive 5-0 win over Barnsley last weekend.
Their feeble attempt to retain their Premier League crown has been disappointing, their Champions League campaign was shocking, and the constant in-fighting and stories of a mass summer clearout is destabilising and embarrassing.
If you are Joleon Lescott, Gareth Barry, Samir Nasri or Edin Dzeko, their top league scorer, how much of a motivation can it possibly be to see your name in a list of scapegoats blamed for City’s poor season?
As for Everton, injuries and loss of form to key players can account for some of it, but for the main part it’s largely about David Moyes. The Scot’s loyalty to the club is remarkable in the short-term world we live today. However, his refusal to discuss a new contract until the end of the season can also have a detrimental effect on his team.
It also doesn’t transmit a positive message to Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines, the two jewels in the Everton crown and who will face intense transfer speculation over the summer months.
As it is, Everton are priced at 13/5 to beat the Citizens in bwin’s 3way betting market, the draw is 23/10, and Roberto Mancini’s side are odds-against at 21/20.
The Toffees have enjoyed a mixed start to 2013, with three wins and three draws from their eight league games, but last Saturday’s 3-0 defeat to Wigan in the FA Cup will have left the blue half of Merseyside shell-shocked.
It wasn’t just the result itself but the manner of the performance that was the most worrying thing – Wigan totally outplayed Everton. Nikica Jelavic and Fellaini are struggling for form, and Tim Howard and Phil Jagielka are both injured, and with that in mind it’s easy to look towards an away win.
But that could prove to be folly – Everton have lost just once at Goodison this season, and City’s biggest failing this season has been on the road. Mancini’s side have only won half of their away league matches, drawing five.
A 1-1 draw at odds of 5/1 is worth considering, but if this season’s form isn’t enough to convince you then how about this.
Since the initial wave of signings at the Etihad under Sven Goran-Eriksson and Thaksin Shinawatra through to the splurges of Mancini and Sheikh Mansour today, the two sides have met eleven times in the Premier League and Everton have won eight of those battles losing only twice.
Now even though Everton are not firing on all cylinders at the moment, their trait of being durable and hard to beat is almost unparalleled in the Premier League.
So for any new customers who have now been convinced, a 1-1 draw at 5/1 could be worth £120 when using your free £20 bet.