Manchester City face the prospect of sitting top of the Premier League for the first time this season – but will need their shooting boots to do so.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side play Everton at Goodison Park tomorrow and only alphabetical order keeps Chelsea ahead of them on paper.
If both teams win tomorrow, City could still leapfrog the London club, who host Newcastle United, if they win by a greater margin.
Speaking ahead of the clash, Pellegrini said: “We start now the second half of the season. Every game will be a final for all the teams involved in the fight for the title.
“Not only in the Premier League, it is the same in FA Cup or Champions League. If you don’t win, you are out of the cup.”
The Chilean believes the Toffees will prove sticky opposition despite their season-long slump that sees them in 13th place having won one of their last nine games.
“Maybe they are not in their best moment but they have a very difficult team, they play very well with good players and a very good manager,” Pellegrini added.
“If we want to continue in the same way, we must play in the same way.”
City edged out Everton 3-2 in Merseyside last May and that victory helped them on their way to a second league title in three years.
And midfielder Fernandinho believes his side can draw inspiration from that win to aid them once more against Roberto Martinez’s side.
“I remember they started very well and scored a beautiful goal early on, but we were in the middle of a fantastic run and came back strongly to win the game,” Fernandinho told MCFC Online.
“They have some very good players and I believe we will need to give the same level of performance as we did last season in order to come away with a victory.”
Yaya Toure is away with the Ivory Coast in the African Cup of Nations for the rest of the month but City do welcome captain Vincent Kompany back to the side.
Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko have also been named in the squad after missing the busy Christmas schedule with knee and calf injuries respectively.
Main image courtesy of Alex Morton/Action Images, with thanks.