Cup on the backburner as City and Everton clash again

Manchester City and Everton play the second instalment of their league and cup trilogy on Wednesday with all parties insisting thoughts of Wembley will go on hold.

Tuesday January 12 2016

Manchester City's Argentinian striker Sergio Aguero (second right) slices his shot wide during their English League Cup semi-final first leg match against Everton at Goodison Park on January 6, 2016. PHOTO | PAUL ELLIS |

Manchester City's Argentinian striker Sergio Aguero (second right) slices his shot wide during their English League Cup semi-final first leg match against Everton at Goodison Park on January 6, 2016. PHOTO | PAUL ELLIS |  AFP

By AFP
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MANCHESTER

Manchester City and Everton play the second instalment of their league and cup trilogy on Wednesday with all parties insisting thoughts of Wembley will go on hold.

The two clubs met in the first leg of their League Cup semi-final at Everton last Wednesday when the Merseysiders got their noses in front thanks to a 2-1 win.

They will meet again in Manchester on January 27 to decide who gets to the final at Wembley, but before that face each other in the Premier League at Eastlands.

And Everton manager Roberto Martinez says it is important for his players to forget the cup for now and focus on the league showdown.

"The game on Wednesday is so important in the league for different reasons; they're trying to get that top spot and we're trying to get as high up as we can, and the three points are important in themselves," he said.

"So I don't think we need to look any further than that.

"Playing a team three times in three weeks will have a role in terms of how you prepare the game but not in a conscious manner."

Both sides are likely to show changes from the teams that met a week ago, with City's former Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling hoping to get a crack at his one-time local rivals.

"I've never come up against the same team as often as this and it is a pretty quick turnaround," Sterling said.

"But I didn't play in the League Cup semi-final first leg last week so I obviously hope to be involved this time.

"We know this is an opportunity for us but we just need to focus on what we need to do to win the Premier League and not worry about other teams and what they're doing.

"That way, we don't let anything affect our thinking and purely focus on our own performance.

"We've played a lot of away games over the past fortnight so we're looking forward to playing in front of our own fans again on Wednesday."

FOCUSED

City, three points behind Premier League leaders Arsenal, completed a run of four successive away fixtures with a 3-0 win at Norwich in the third round of the FA Cup last Saturday.

That win has kept Manuel Pellegrini's side on course for an unlikely quadruple of trophies domestically and in the Champions League.

City manager Pellegrini, who is likely to have Yaya Toure, Fernandinho and David Silva back from injury to face Everton, said: "It's very important to be focused game by game.

"We've played in the FA Cup and now we must return to the Premier League. We have to play two games at home and it's very important that we try to reduce the gap that we have with Arsenal.

"We have so many games to play in January that it is important to have the whole squad fit.

"The team played very well (at Norwich) and now we must choose which is the best team to start against Everton."

Martinez rotated his squad for their 2-0 FA Cup win over League two side Dagenham and Redbridge but is expected to have top scorer Romelu Lukaku, who headed the late winner against City in the League Cup clash, back on Wednesday.

Tim Howard may return in goal for Everton, 11th in the table but beaten just once away from home this season, but defender Seamus Coleman and midfielder Tom Cleverley are out through injury.

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