Old Trafford, Manchester
December 4, 2013; 19:45 GMT
Big games keep coming thick and fast as Premier League clubs enter a rather busy schedule. Everton make the short trip from Merseyside to Manchester and perhaps for the first time in recent history confident of upstaging the Red Devils in their own backyard. The game offers plenty of mouth-watering duels, none more so than the one between the two managers David Moyes and Roberto Martinez.
Former Everton boss Moyes can expect a rather hostile reception from the travelling contingent as the Toffees have lost some of the respect for their former boss after his repeated bids for Baines and Fellaini. Furthermore, there is an air of expectation and promise in the Everton camp with the new manager deploying a rather attractive brand of football compared to Moyes dour but nevertheless effective football. The game is tantalizingly poised and Man United would look to once again kick start their campaign after back to back away draws.
Team News and Tactical Brief
For the optimistic, Manchester United extended their unbeaten run to 12 matches in all competitions after the draw at WHL but for the realistic it was another two points dropped. Wayne Rooney saved United’s blushes with another fantastic display but even his brace couldn’t mask some of the glaring deficiencies of the squad. With midfield lynchpin Michael Carrick unavailable due to a long term injury and the suspension of Phil Jones, United’s options in central midfield are down to the trio of Cleverley, Fellaini and Giggs.
Expect Fellaini to start against his former club and act as the midfield enforcer, Ryan Giggs should partner the former Everton man after Giggs’ stupendous display a week ago in Germany. Tom Cleverley has had a disappointing season so far and might find himself on the bench. Robin Van Persie could make a comeback and partner the inform Rooney upfront making United doubly potent.
Expect Adnan Januzaj to start on the left wing and possibly Nani on the right as Moyes would want to test the Everton Full Backs. In defense Rafael should make his long awaited comeback at Right Back and add another dimension to United’s attack down the right wing.
Man United possible starting X1 (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Rafael, Vidic Evans, Evra; Fellaini, Giggs; Nani, Rooney, Januzaj; Van Persie
Martinez has turned Everton into quite an attacking outfit and the results have been really impressive. Toffees are fifth in the table two points ahead of Moyes’ United. The loan signings have worked their charm with both Barry and Lukaku excelling and now the Barcelona starlet Gerard deulofeu also pulling his weight in. On the injury front Baines is out until this year at least and his place will be taken by Oviedo who scored his maiden goal for the Toffees. Upfront Lukaku is sure to start and United will be weary of his presence, the Belgian international terrorized the United backline last season and scored a hat trick in a memorable game at the Hawthhorns.
In central midfield Gareth Barry and James McCarthy have formed a formidable partnership and should start at Old Trafford. With the upcoming busy schedule in mind, Martinez could shuffle his pack and Mirallas could come in. Steven Pienaar has often performed well against United and should keep his place. Ross Barkley might have to content with a place on the bench as Deulofeu could keep his place after scoring against Stoke at the weekend.
Everton could take advantage of United’s softness in central midfield and hurt United through the middle. If Nemanja Vidic starts then the prospect of Lukaku and Vidic going hammer and tongs at each other is certainly tantalizing to say the least.
Everton Possible Starting X1 (4-2-3-1): Howard; Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Oviedo; Barry McCarthy; Mirallas, Deulofeu, Pienaar; Lukaku
Key Match Facts
1) Everton have won none of their last 20 Barclays Premier League away games at Old Trafford (W0 D4 L16)
2) Manchester United have scored more goals against Everton than any team against any single opponent in Premier League history (84).
3) Wayne Rooney has now scored 149 Premier League goals for Man Utd. Only Thierry Henry has scored more (175) for a single club (Arsenal).
Player to Watch
Romelu Lukaku (Everton)
Perhaps the shrewdest signing of the transfer window, Lukaku has been unplayable at times and has definitely taken Everton to a new level. The Belgian sensation scored a memorable hat trick against United in Sir Alex Ferguson’s last match in charge and the psychological marks of the duel could still be very much prevalent.
Man United 2-1 Everton
It will be close and United will have to work really hard but the Red Devils need to win this one if they have any chance of retaining the league crown. Robin Van Persie’s fitness could yet hold the key.