Manchester City star Sergio Aguero celebrates after scoring a goal. File/ AFP
Manchester City will provide a test of see how genuine Everton’s revival is, Carlo Ancelotti on Tuesday, despite the Premier League champions’ shaky campaign.
Everton coach Ancelotti, 60, has guided Everton to two wins in his first two matches in charge since replacing Marco Silva, who was sacked in early December after they slipped into the bottom three.
However, Ancelotti — one of only three managers to have won the Champions League three times — says City will provide a more realistic barometer on where Everton stand despite the welcome wins over Burnley and Newcastle.
“Against City this is a fantastic test to see where we are at,” Ancelotti said at his pre-match press conference.
“They are a really strong team but we can have confidence to do our best.
“I think at this moment it is good to have this kind of test.” Ancelotti, who in his previous stint in England won the domestic double with Chelsea in the 2009/10 campaign, said City remained a formidable opponent even if their defence of the league title has gone awry and trail leaders Liverpool by 14 points.
“Maybe City aren’t at the same level as last year but they still remain a fantastic team with fantastic players and a fantastic manager,” he said.
“It will be really tough to compete with them, but we need to have the confidence to compete and to be focused on our football.
“We don’t have to look too much to the opponent because they are really strong so it’s better to be focused on our idea of football.” Ancelotti, a two-time European Cup winner as a player with the outstanding AC Milan side of the late 1980’s and early 90’s, heaped praise on City manager Pep Guardiola, who he replaced as Bayern Munich manager when the Spaniard left to take over City in 2016.
“Pep is a fantastic manager,” said Ancelotti.
“We’ve met some times, not a lot in games, but I have a really good relationship (with him) and a lot of respect for him.
“He is a genius; he’s always tried to do something special on the pitch.”
Meanwhile, City boss Pep Guardiola said David Silva and John Stones are available for selection for City’s New Year’s Day match against Everton.
The pair have missed the champions’ festive fixtures with injury but Guardiola confirmed the only absentees will be Aymeric Laporte and John Stones.
When asked if the pair are ready to play, the boss replied: “I like to have all the squad available and, of course, I don’t like to see players injured, so yeah, they are back. There is no Laporte or Leroy, but the rest are happy.”
Pep also gave an encouraging update on Laporte’s fitness, adding: “He’s now getting better and training alone; he’s already on the pitch,
“I don’t know exactly when he will be back, but perhaps in one week or ten days then he can train with us.”
City face a resurgent Everton on Wednesday at the Etihad and the Catalan says he is looking forward to facing his old friend Carlo Ancelotti.
The City boss is also expecting another difficult 90 minutes on the back of games against Leicester, Wolves and Sheffield United.
“Everton is Everton,” said Pep.
“One of the biggest historical teams in England with incredible quality of players.
“They struggled a bit this season for points, but with a new manager of incredible quality and capacity of Carlo, he makes them work and has already had good results in the last two games, so it is a difficult test.
“I know him well and we played against each other few times - his teams always beat our teams - but I was with him and it was an honour to have dinner and meetings with him.
“He’s an incredible man and he conducted one of the greatest teams in Europe, the list of his achievements are huge.
“It is great news for English football that he’s back. I’m pretty sure he’ll be successful.”