Written by @Chadley_N for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!
Everton vs Manchester United | Sunday 20 April | Goodison Park | 17:10
David Moyes will return to Goodison Park on Sunday as his Manchester United side face a fearless Everton. There is pride at stake for the champions and Champions League football on the horizon for the Toffees. When Everton chairman Bill Kenwright revealed Roberto Martinez’s promise to take the club into the Champions League, the idea was scoffed at by some. Ten months on and the laughing has stopped. Everton are fast closing in on a return to Europe’s elite because of the man who replaced David Moyes last summer.
To Win (90mins)
Manchester United 19/10
Everton’s Champions League dream took another step towards becoming a reality after the Toffees moved into fourth with a record-breaking seventh straight Premier League win. Wes Brown’s own goal a quarter of an hour before the end decided a game which had seemed destined to end in a stalemate. Everton leapfrogged the Gunners in the league standings and despite Arsenal’s victory mid-week, have the opportunity to extend their points advantage over Arsene Wenger’s side to two when they host Crystal Palace on Wednesday evening. Everton have been outstanding at home, playing sixteen matches and winning twelve times with three draws. They have scored an impressive 32 goals at Goodison Park while conceding thirteen. James McCarthy has had an impressive first season with Everton and has formed an effective midfield partnership with Gareth Barry. McCarthy is a hard-working player with two quick feet; expect him to hassle and hurry the Manchester players whilst, on occasions, looking for that killer final pass. Romelu Lukaku seems to cause a big headache to every defence he comes up against, and United will be weary of the threat the Belgian international poses, as he scored a hatrick against them while playing on loan at West Brom last season. Lukaku must fancy his chances of striking again this weekend. Everton will be boosted by the return of Phil Jagielka to the squad. The skipper has been absent since the defeat at Chelsea on February 22 with a hamstring problem. The Toffees will be looking to get the double over United for the first time since 1969, after winning the reverse fixture 1-0, and there’s never been a better chance for them to do it.
Manchester United and their supporters are waking up to the reality that their season is over. Their Champions League exit does not mean they can now concentrate on the league as they are out of the title race and have no chance of even clinching a Champions League spot. As such, David Moyes’ first season at Old Trafford has been worse than anybody expected. United is now a club that needs to spend hundreds of millions of pounds on several world-class players just to compete with the likes of Tottenham, Everton and Arsenal for a top-four finish. The last time United finished lower than third was 1991. There have been signs of improvement for Moyes’ side of late but they’ve lacked the consistency that Sir Alex Ferguson made the norm in his 27-year reign at Old Trafford.
Some of Manchester United’s better performances and results have come on the road, they have won ten of their seventeen matches away from Old Trafford, drawing three times. They’ve scored an impressive 34 goals and conceded nineteen. Shinji Kagawa has hit a rich vein of form of late and he produced his best performance of the season against Bayern Munich last week, with some incisive passing and smart movement. If selected by Moyes, he will be a key threat for the Red Devils going forward and difficult to stop. Danny Welbeck always comes to the fore on the big occasion and will cause the Evertonian defence all sorts of problems with his movement and athleticism. Juan Mata has finally found his feet at Old Trafford in the absence of Robin van Persie. Mata had been isolated in a wide role for the Red Devils but in his favoured central role has flourished. United have enough firepower on their day to keep Everton on the back foot but will have to be at their utmost best to come away with a win.
VERDICT: Everton 27/20
It shows how low United have dropped given the fact that Everton head into the game as favourites. Everton know that any slip up will likely see Arsenal clinch their spot in finishing fourth to qualify for the Champions League. The only positive for David Moyes is a good reception from the Everton faithful. Back The Toffees to claim a much needed victory at 27/20.
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