The League Cup represents a clear chance of ending our near 21 years of hurt by winning a trophy that no Evertonian has seen us lift, and give a generation of Everton fans the chance to see us lift any kind of trophy. There has been a call to arms from Jagielka to make Goodison Park into the bear pit it can be, and hopefully it will be a special night. Unfortunately it’s the 1st leg at Goodison and not the 2nd, but if the team can get a victory and hold at the Etihad, we’ll be through. This is Martinez’ biggest game as Everton manager and a chance for him to win over the sceptical fans, or add fuel to the fire.
Everton defended better against Tottenham than they have in recent weeks, only conceding a great goal but will have to be defensively solid against a full strength Man City attacking line. Everton have been unfortunate by the fixture coming around just as David Silva and Sergio Aguero have regained fitness, and the latter started scoring. Lukaku will be looking to exploit Otamendi’s form and should hopefully give him a torrid night. Kolarov hasn’t been playing well in recent weeks and should have a nightmare against Deulofeu if he plays.
Martinez should stick with Robles as his ‘2nd choice’ goalkeeper who will be looking to finally convince the manager to play him in the league matches, though Robles performance against Norwich shows that regardless of how well he plays, it won’t be good enough for Martinez.
It may be a game too soon for Jagielka, Funes Mori has settled in extremely well as his replacement given the league he came from and looks like we have a great singing, but Jagielka’s leadership and experience has been missed recently. The rest of the defence picks itself.
The rest of the team depends on Cleverley, who Martinez will play. If he plays centrally then it will be Kone of the left again. If he plays on the left, it should be Besic in the centre. Whilst a lot of Evertonians want two wingers, it seems unlikely Martinez will change his mind on that against such a strong side so the choice seems to be between Kone and Besic. Most fans will hope he opts for Besic. I imagine Deulofeu will start after a rest on the weekend.
Anything other than a win would make it extremely difficult to qualify. Away goals count after extra time so I don’t think we should get too hung up on trying to keep a clean sheet, especially with how difficult that has been this season. Man City aren’t playing anywhere near as well as when we met them in the league and we have to go into the match expecting to come away with a lead. Another score draw may be the most likely outcome however.