Everton v Manchester United | Goodison Park | Saturday 17 October | 16:00
The English Premier League returns this weekend after an unwanted international break. Everton will host Manchester United at Goodison Park on Saturday in what promises to be a thrilling affair.
United would have been thankful for the break after being annihilated by Arsenal the weekend before the internationals. Van Gaal will be expecting his side to respond to the defeat with a positive performance at the home of the Toffees. It has not been one of United's happier hunting grounds, however, as they have suffered three defeats at the stadium in the last three seasons.
To Win (90 Mins)
Everton earned a well deserved 1-1 draw against Liverpool in the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park before the international break. The game ultimately proved to be Brendan Rodgers' final match in charge of Liverpool. Overall it was a fair reflection of the game; with Everton lacking the cutting edge and drive they showed in the second half of the 3-2 victory over West Brom the week prior. Nonetheless, it stretched the Toffees' unbeaten run to five matches. Everton have fielded a weaker and unfamiliar back four in their last two matches with youngsters Tylas Browning and Ramiro Funes Mori filling in for the injured John Stones and Seamus Coleman. However, the experienced pair looks likely to make a return this weekend which will significantly enhance the Toffees’ defence. Roberto Martinez has been impressed with his backline regardless of personal.
While the back four have had numerous plaudits thrown their way, the Toffees midfield has made it a lot easier for them to do their jobs. Gareth Barry has provided a solid screen in front of his defenders while Ross Barkley and James McCarthy haven’t shirked from their defensive duties. The young midfield duo have also pulled the strings in the middle of the park with great effect.
Martinez has a bit of a selection dilemma in terms of who supports Romelu Lukaku upfront.
Gerard Deulofeu, Arouna Kone and Steven Naismith are the three options, but all three have
their pro's and con's.
Regardless of who supports him, Lukaku is going to be Everton's key man on Saturday. The big Belgian’s career has, so far, been something of a tale of unfulfilled promise, but at 22 he has all the weapons to develop into a world-class striker. He looks like he’s starting to fulfil that potential with two man of the match performances in his last two outings.
Manchester United were thrashed 3-0 by a rampant Arsenal, last time out and will be looking to put that horrid memory behind them. The defeat has left Louis van Gaal's side in third place, behind Arsenal on goal difference. Prior to the defeat, the Red Devils were on a three-match winning streak. Most of their victories this season, however, have been less than convincing, including their 3-0 win at Old Trafford against arguably the weakest team in the league – Sunderland. Their inability to start the game with pace and purpose has cost them and if that fails to change – this season will be as slow as the partnering of Michael Carrick (31) and Bastian Schweinsteiger (34) for fans of the famous side.
Memphis Depay has failed to impress since his £25-million move from PSV. After getting pulled off at half-time against Arsenal; the Dutch winger will be looking to finally repay the faith showed in him by Van Gaal.
Another United player failing to live up to his billing is Wayne Rooney. The United skipper has looked a shadow of the record-breaking footballer that he has been. The 29-year old has scored just one goal in the league thus far, and Van Gaal will be depending on his captain to hit the ground running.
Anthony Martial has been directly involved in four goals in all competitions for Man United, netting three and assisting one. The young Frenchman has proved his doubters wrong since his big money move and will be looking to continue on the impressive start he has made to his Red Devils career.
Juan Mata has been United’s most consistent performer this season. The Spanish maestro has quick feet as well as an abundance of skill and flair, as well as vision and creativity that is immeasurable to his team. He will need to be at his best on Saturday if his side are to return to Manchester with three points in the bag.
Verdict: Everton 9/4
Both teams looked far from their best last time out, and this one looks like it could go either way. However, the last three meetings at Goodison Park have seen Everton claim victory. They have scored six goals and conceded none in those three encounters. Back the Toffees to make it a fourth consecutive win against the Red Devils on home soil.
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