Manchester City defender Joleon Lescott has dismissed the theory that his acrimonious move from Everton provides extra motivation for the Merseysiders against his current club.
Lescott left Goodison Park for the Etihad Stadium in a bitter and protracted £22million transfer at the start of the 2009-10 season. At the time Everton manager David Moyes accused City of "disgusting" behaviour and later partly blamed the affair for his side's poor start to that campaign.
But after the move Everton won five of the next six Barclays Premier League meetings between the clubs and they also played out a 1-1 draw earlier this season. The champions must get the better of them this weekend to keep their slim title hopes alive but Lescott said: "It might be the case, but when I was at Everton we beat City on a number of occasions, so I don't think it's down to my transfer."
He added: "I wouldn't say they raise their game, because they are always tough opponents against any team. Goodison is a tough away ground."
City produced one of their best performances of the season last weekend, albeit against npower Championship opposition, as they powered into the FA Cup semi-finals with a 5-0 thrashing of Barnsley.
Everton on the other hand, having had high hopes in that competition, crashed to a dismal 3-0 defeat to Wigan to miss out on a Wembley return. Fans were strong in their condemnation and Lescott expects Everton to be fired up this week to prevent their once promising season fizzling out.
The 30-year-old, who made his first start in a month against Barnsley, said: "The whole club will be disappointed with their result against Wigan, but you know they will be hard at it in training determined to get a result against us.
"The fact they have gone out has no bearing on what happens on Saturday. We know it's a very tough game, and has been since I joined the club. We know if we are not fully on it we will get beaten, so we have to go there determined to get three points and with the same application we showed against Barnsley."
Victory in the early Saturday fixture would see City cut Manchester United's lead at the top of the table to nine points before their rivals face Reading later in the day.
Manager Roberto Mancini is expected to update on the fitness of captain Vincent Kompany, who has missed seven games with calf problems, and striker Sergio Aguero, who has a knee injury. Mancini said last week he hoped both players would be fit for the trip to Goodison.