The Premier League title credentials of Pep Guardiola’s new-look Manchester City face an early-season examination on Monday when Ronald Koeman’s ambitious Everton visit the Etihad Stadium.
With around o150 million ($193.1 million, 164.1 million euros) of new players on show, City made an assured start to the campaign by winning 2-0 at promoted Brighton and Hove Albion last weekend.
But Everton are also stronger, taking their spending past o130 million this week with a club-record o45 million move for Gylfi Sigurdsson, and they trounced City 4-0 when the teams last met in January.
“They are a top squad and they have important players,” said Guardiola, the City manager.
“They lost an important player, (Romelu) Lukaku, but they have a good group of players — midfield players and strikers. They are one of the best teams in the Premier League, I am pretty sure of that.
“I expect they will play the same way and attack our defence.
“Sandro Ramirez and Wayne Rooney are used to playing in that way. They have a strong defence. They have great players and are dangerous on the counter- attack.”
City’s 4-0 defeat at Goodison Park in January was the low point of Guardiola’s maiden campaign in England, which ended with his side 15 points adrift of champions Chelsea in third place.
The visitors had 71 percent of possession and registered 13 attempts on goal to Everton’s six, but they were wasteful in attack and alarmingly porous in defence.
Of the goalkeeper and four defenders who started at Goodison, only centre- backs Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones are expected to be involved on Monday.
Guardiola has used a three-man defence in pre-season and at Brighton, with captain Vincent Kompany bringing much-needed authority at the back and new boys Kyle Walker and Danilo supplying thrust on the flanks.
City’s third new full-back, Benjamin Mendy, is not yet ready to make his debut due to a thigh injury.