Beware Man City's Fearsome Foursome, Everton
Pellegrini set to unleash fearsome foursome against Everton
SEMI-FINAL, 1ST LEG
EVERTON v MAN CITY
(Tomorrow, 3.55am, Singtel TV Ch 109)
A tour de force is set to take English football by storm.
Manchester City can't wait.
They have splashed the cash to assemble what looks the English Premiership's most fearsome attack.
But for injuries, the quartet of Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Kevin de Bruyne and Raheem Sterling should be obliterating opponents week in, week out.
Aguero was the last piece of the jigsaw to get out of the treatment room.
If his late winner against Watford last weekend - his third start in City's last four games - was anything to go by, then he's close to getting back to his formidable best.
If City manager Manuel Pellegrini unleashes all of them in the first leg of their League Cup semi-final at Goodison Park tomorrow morning (Singapore time), Everton may be in for a harrowing time.
It won't be the first time they play together in the same starting line-up.
But it may be the beginning of a prolonged run together to give the four-pronged partnership a chance to gel and fulfil its mouth-watering potential.
A convincing performance in Merseyside will send chills up the spines of not just the other League Cup semi-finalists, but also those of their Premiership title rivals.
On paper, Pellegrini has put together a sublime £163-million ($343m) four-man assault party that can break down seemingly the most impenetrable of defences.
The individual brilliance, dynamism, speed and supreme technical ability, when in full flow, can be quite a sight to behold.
Sterling has settled in well at City following his high-profile move from Liverpool in the summer.
His direct running and pace on the left leave defenders with very little margin for error.
De Bruyne, on the opposite flank, has chalked up 10 goals and 10 assists in all competitions, making him City's top assist maker and joint-top scorer.
He provides the goal threat Jesus Navas couldn't offer.
Silva, the central player of the supporting trio behind Aguero, was sorely missed by his teammates during his two-month absence between October and December.
Since rejoining the action at the start of last month, he has been providing the direction and dictating the rhythm from his vantage point, with the same precision and drive that made him such a favourite with the City fans.
It was Aguero's boots which had been the hardest to fill though, with deputy striker Wilfried Bony struggling to impress while the Argentinian was injured.
Despite starting in only half of City's fixtures, Aguero has netted 10 times across all competitions so far.
In practice, Pellegrini's four-pronged attack has looked breathtaking, too.
In the four matches they have started together, they have won thrice (beat Borussia Moenchengladbach 2-1, Newcastle 6-1 and Watford 2-1) and drawn once (with Leicester City 0-0).
Their long-awaited reunion may just give City the cutting edge that Pellegrini has been desperately looking for.
BY THE NUMBERS
2 There have been only two meetings between Manchester City and Everton in the history of the League Cup, both of which finished 2-0. City won the first clash in 1969 and Everton won the last encounter in 1988.
Martinez wants end to trophy wait
POT LUCK: Everton manager Roberto Martinez believes they are not far away from bagging silverware.
It is more than 20 years since Everton last won a trophy.
But Roberto Martinez has a chance to change that as his side prepare for tomorrow morning's (Singapore time) League Cup semi-final, first-leg clash against Manchester City.
The FA Cup in 1995 was the last addition to the trophy cabinet at Goodison Park, which during the 1980s had also been home to two league titles and a further FA Cup success in 1984.
That was also the year Everton lost in the League Cup final, going down 1-0 to Liverpool in a replay.
Only once before, seven years previously, had Everton reached the League Cup final, but now they are just two legs of a semi-final against City away from going back to Wembley to face either Liverpool or Stoke City.
Martinez's side have reached the last four of the competition for the first time since 2008 and the Everton manager is determined to end the trophy drought.
"I think we are on the right track in having a team that excite us," Martinez said. "I truly believe we are not far away from bringing glory into our football club.
"That's something we want more than anything, to be able to give our fans a taste of becoming a winning team once again."
Everton are currently 11th in the Premier League after drawing 1-1 at home to Tottenham last Sunday.
That position does not perhaps reflect the talent Martinez has in his squad in the shape of England defenders John Stones and Leighton Baines, Ross Barkley in midfield and 18-goal top scorer Romelu Lukaku in attack.
City, who won the League Cup and the Premier League in 2014, will start as favourites and, having won at Watford last Saturday, will have had an extra day's rest ahead of the first leg on Merseyside.
But, despite failing to win at Goodison Park since November, Baines is hoping to make home advantage count ahead of the return leg at Eastlands on Jan 27.
"It's a great place to play in games like that and it's one to look forward to. It's a really exciting game for us to be involved in," Baines said.
"It's a busy time for us and so we have to do everything right on the pitch as well, in terms of recovery and preparation to make sure we leave no stone unturned and give it everything in order to try and make it to the final."
City head to Goodison lifted by their first away win in the Premier League since September as they look to reach the final at Wembley on Feb 28.
Manuel Pellegrini's side are still chasing a possible Quadruple in the League Cup, Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup, with their campaign in the last competition due to start at Norwich on Saturday.
But, despite the hectic schedule lying in wait, Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho, who has started all but two of City's games this season, insists he doesn't need a rest.
"My body works best when I'm playing all the time, so when I work more and I play more, I feel better," he said.
"My target is to win the Premier League, the cup competitions and see how far we can go in Europe.
"I can rest at the end of the season and enjoy time with my family. That's when I'll recharge my batteries, not before." - AFP.