If you don’t count the derby, ask any Manchester City fan which fixture that worries them most every season and 'Everton away' will feature heavily in the responses. Why? Because for some reason the Toffees have a habit of turning us over.
Thankfully one of the main protagonists in recent years, Tim Cahill, has moved on the pastures new in Major League Soccer, but that horrible sinking feeling returns whenever City travel to Goodison Park.
It’s not just the away fixture either: earlier this season a questionable penalty decision helped Roberto Mancini’s side salvage a point at the Etihad Stadium after going a goal down.
Before City embarked on their unbeaten home run which stretched for 37 games (which of course ended when Manchester United scored late to win 3-2), Everton were the last side to win at the Etihad back in December 2010.
Since the 2007/08 season, the sides have met eleven times in the league with Manchester City taking a grand total of seven points from a possible 33. So bad is that record, I can vividly remember being giddy with excitement when goals from Robinho and Stephen Ireland gave us an away win in April 2009.
That game also marks the last time City took a point from Goodison Park with three defeats coming since, the most recent in January of last year with Darron Gibson’s goal on the hour mark threatening to derail the club’s title challenge.
David Moyes’ side will no doubt be looking to bounce back from last weekend’s horrendous collapse against Wigan in the FA Cup, and they can now concentrate solely on achieving European qualification through the league.
Everton’s defensive frailties were exposed by the Latics in a four minute spell which saw three goals kill the tie off just after the half hour mark.
Jan Mucha failed to impress between the posts with Tim Howard ruled out for at least a month after breaking two bones in his back last month and City will fancy their chances against him. Similarly, age looks to be finally catching up on skipper Phil Neville, who had a shocker last weekend.
Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini was booed off the field when he was substituted and looked none too impressed, gesturing to the crowd as he departed.
Meanwhile, Manchester City enjoyed a glorified training season in their FA Cup quarter final, cruising to a 5-0 win over Barnsley.
Carlos Tevez was the catalyst as he netted a hat-trick, his fifth for the club, despite making headlines for all the wrong reasons in the run up to the game after being caught driving while disqualified.
The Argentine has scored five of City’s last seven goals and had a hand in the other two so it’s imperative that a striker in that sort of form starts on Saturday.
If City are intent on attacking Everton from the word go then Edin Džeko should be given the nod to partner Tevez up front. Džeko played his 100th game for the club against Barnsley and has scored 38 goals, averaging one every 148.5 minutes.
One player who shouldn’t be anywhere near the starting eleven is Samir Nasri.
The Frenchman started last weekend, one of six changes made by Mancini after the previous game against Aston Villa, and although he set up one of Tevez’s goals he has generally been absolutely awful this season.
When the sides met back in December, Nasri attempted one tackle (which he lost) and offered no protection to his full back as Leighton Baines in particular enjoyed acres of space when getting forward.
City’s Player of the Month for February, James Milner, is the man for the job on the right hand side to combat Baines, while Gareth Barry may partner Yaya Touré in the middle of the park.
Kolo Touré continues to impress in the absence of Vincent Kompany and should line up alongside Matija Nastasić at the heart of the defence, while Joe Hart will replace giant Romanian Costel Pantilimon in goal.
The early kick-off gives City a chance to at least temporarily close the gap at the top of the table to nine points, with Manchester United playing Reading at 5.30pm. The cynic in me wouldn’t be surprised to see Everton keep their slim Champions League qualification hopes alive.