Goodison Park, Liverpool
April 20, 2014; 16:10 BST
David Moyes and Manchester United make the short trip to Merseyside to take on high flying Everton in their own backyard. The two clubs have had contrasting fortunes so far this season, and not many would have predicted Roberto Martinez’s side to be ahead of the visitors at this late juncture of the season. David Moyes’ history with the Toffees is well documented. The Scotsman did a fantastic job at Goodison Park and although some of his comments after joining United have left a sour taste, David Moyes in general is remembered fondly. Nevertheless, with Fellaini and Moyes coming back to their former hunting grounds, there is an extra edge attached to this contest. Expect sparks to fly.
Team News and Tactics
Everton had a disastrous result in midweek as they succumbed to a rare home defeat against Tony Pulis’ resurgent Crystal Palace side. The result dented Toffees’ hopes of getting the coveted Champions League spot and the impeding fixtures surely make Arsenal the favorites now. Nevertheless, Everton and Martinez can be proud of what they have achieved and how far they have come this season. The football on display at times has been breathtaking and surely the performances have surpassed all expectations.
On the injury front, Roberto Martinez says as soon as Phil Jagielka is fully fit then he will go straight back into the Everton side. The Blues skipper has not featured for a while due to a hamstring problem and the young John Stones has done a commendable job in his absence. James McCarthy played through injury in the midweek loss but should be fit enough to start this massively important game. The back four is expected to remain the same with Coleman and Baines as the two fullbacks with the Distin-Stones center back pairing.
In central midfield Everton’s only viable options are James McCarthy and the on loan Gareth Barry. In attack however, Martinez does have a few more options to call upon. Ross Barkley could return and terrorize the beleaguered United rearguard, while Kevin Mirallas too is expected to start, possibly on the flank. One of Deulofeu, Osman, McGeady and Naismith will take up the other position on the flank as Lukaku is sure to start upfront given his track record of bullying United center backs.
Expected starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Howard; Coleman, Stones, Distin, Baines; McCarthy, Barry; Mirallas, Barkley, Osman; Lukaku
The Red Devils have nothing much but pride left to play for. Moyes’s first season at Old Trafford has been an unmitigated disaster and United as a result will not be playing Champions League football next term. Everton will be favorites going into this game and that is a measure of how the mighty have fallen this term. Nevertheless, United’s away form has been terrific, had they performed at home things would be remarkably different.
As it stands United are 9 points behind Everton but with a game in hand, a win could bring United potentially within three points off the Merseyside club.
On the injury front, Wayne Rooney could make a return to face his former club but Moyes might be tempted not to start him. Danny Welbeck could lead the line in Rooney and RVP’s absence, although there’s also a case to be made for Chicharito’s inclusion. Juan Mata and Shinji Kagawa are expected to start this one after linking up beautifully in their brief appearances together, so far. Luis Nani is also fit and could feature on the right flank, but Moyes could go with safety first approach and start Valencia instead. At the back, with Rafael ruled out of this one Evra and Jones are expected to be the starting full backs while Moyes could pick any two of Vidic, Smalling or Rio as his center backs.
Expected starting line-up (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Jones, Smalling, Vidic, Evra; Carrick, Fellaini; Valencia, Mata Kagawa; Welbeck
- Despite Everton’s perceived better football this season, both clubs have a roughly same average possession of around 55% each.
- Everton have kept 13 clean sheets to United’s 12 this season.
- Manchester United have only won one of their last five Premier League games at Goodison Park (D2 L2).
- Everton will attempt to complete a league double over Man Utd for the first time since the 1969-70 season.
- Javier Hernandez is the only player in Premier League history to score 10+ goals away from home as a substitute.
- Leighton Baines’ assist in midweek took him to 36 in the Premier League, joint-most for Everton in the Premier League along with Mikel Arteta.
Player to watch-out for
Marouane Fellaini (Man United)
The former Everton start hasn’t quite recaptured his form of last season, and Fellaini, so far, has been disappointing to say the least. Up against his old employers, the Belgian would be looking to make amends.
Everton 2-1 Man United
Everton need to win this to have chance of getting the all-important fourth spot. United on the other hand are well capable of crashing the party. However, backed by a vociferous home crowd expect the Toffees to win this one narrowly.