Goodison Park, Liverpool
Saturday 17th October 2015, 1400 GMT
The Toffees host Manchester United on Saturday aiming to continue a positive run of results which has seen Roberto Martinez’s men go five consecutive games without a defeat in the Premier League
Everton have faced Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC in their last five fixtures, and things will not get any easier for the Merseysiders this weekend with Louis van Gaal’s side aiming to bounce back from their humiliating 3-0 defeat to Arsenal FC, when they take on the Toffees at Goodison Park.
Roberto Mart nez’s side have the opportunity to level on points with the Red Devils if they are able to take three points on Saturday, while Manchester United will want to stay as close as possible to league leaders Manchester City, whose return to winning ways came in the form of a spectacular 6-1 victory against Newcastle United at the Etihad Stadium.
Team New and Tactics
The hosts will be without English left-back Leighton Baines, who is reportedly at least a further two weeks away from making his comeback from an ankle problem. Mart nez will also be without the services of former Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley (leg), Muhamed BeA?i (hamstring), Tony Hibbert (knee) and Steven Pienaar (hamstring).
In positive news, however, the prodigiously talented John Stones is expected to make a return to the centre of the Everton defence, while right-back Seamus Coleman is also available after playing for the Republic of Ireland during the international break.
Everton are expected to line up in their customary 4-2-3-1 formation, with Gareth Barry and James McCarthy anchoring the midfield, and the attacking triumvirate of Steven Naismith, Ross Barkley and Gerard Deulofeu playing behind Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku. The former Chelsea FC man will look to test Daley Blind with his physicality and pace, and the Dutchman will likely need help from his midfield and defensive partner Chris Smalling to deal with Lukaku’s formidable presence.
The Everton striker is at his most threatening when running at defenders coming in from the right flank onto his stronger left foot, and given his tendency to occasionally drift wide right, the Red Devils’ left-back on the day will have to have a strong understanding with left centre-back Daley Blind to mitigate that particular threat. Given the directness and trickery of former FC Barcelona winger Gerard Deulofeu on the right wing, it wouldn’t be surprising if Louis van Gaal opted for a more natural defender in Darmian at left-back.
Ross Barkley has been in sparkling form of late for club and country, and his vitality and attacking verve in the Everton midfield could pose a serious threat to Manchester United and their relatively slow midfield, even if Frenchman Morgan Schneiderlin comes in for Bastian Schweinsteiger as is widely expected.
Anthony Martial has stood out for the Red Devils thus far, and centre-back John Stones and Phil Jagielka will have to be particularly wary when dealing with the France international. Martial is comfortable running into space and chasing passes down channels on either side of the penalty area, but has also been surprisingly adept at holding off defenders with his back to goal and getting teammates involved in play.
As such, the likes of Gareth Barry and James McCarthy will have to track the likes of Wayne Rooney or Juan Mata making runs into the box from deeper in midfield.
Possible line-up (4-2-3-1): Howard; Coleman, Stones, Jagielka (C), Galloway; McCarthy, Barry; Deulofeu, Barkley, Naismith; Lukaku
Louis van Gaal would likely have been among the club managers cursing the timing of the international break, after Wayne Rooney, Michael Carrick, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Paddy McNair all picked up knocks while on international duty. However, the Englishmen have been declared fit for the trip to Merseyside, although Ashley Young and Paddy McNair will miss the game through injury.
Ander Herrera and Marcos Rojo are also reportedly fit, but lacking the match fitness to play the full 90 minutes. The Red Devils can also welcome back Phil Jones, who has been given progressively longer time on the pitch in recent games, which included a cameo for England over the international break.
Van Gaal is likely to stick with his 4-2-3-1 formation, with the only changes from the Arsenal FC game forced because of injury. Wayne Rooney’s return to fitness means he is likely to play behind striker Anthony Martial, flanked by Memphis Depay on the left and Spaniard Juan Mata on the right. The French teenager has been extremely impressive in his short United career thus far, and will look to ask questions of the Everton defence with his mobility and trickery.
As pundit and Manchester United legend Gary Neville stated on Sky Sports recently, Martial has added a different dimension to the Red Devils’ attack. In addition to the obvious problems caused by his pace and trickery, it is his maturity and intelligence of movement that stands out. The former AS Monaco striker is able to draw out defenders, drag them wide, and in general stretch the opposition’s defence, opening up space for United’s attacking midfielders — particularly in the penalty area.
It is this primary threat that Everton will have to be on their guard against. Juan Mata has also been productive from his starting position on the right, and has caused havoc with his movement infield as well as his ability to pick out the likes of Depay with long diagonals. As such, Coleman and Stones will have to be careful to track the movement of the Dutchman off the ball.
The presence of Morgan Schneiderlin in midfield will also be extremely important to counter the threat from central areas of Ross Barkley, as well as Steven Naismith, who is likely to look to cut inside from his starting position on the left flank.
Possible line-up (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Valencia, Smalling, Blind, Darmian; Carrick, Schneiderlin; Mata, Rooney (C), Depay; Martial
- French youngster Anthony Martial has touched the ball in the penalty area more often than any other player this season (once every 9.2 minutes).
- Romelu Lukaku is one of four players to score a Premier League hat-trick against Manchester United
- Manchester United have lost their last three Premier League games at Goodison Park, failing to score in each of those matches.
- Everton are yet to score from a set-piece this season — the only Premier League side with that record
- Gareth Barry could make his 550th Premier League start on Saturday, becoming only the second player after goalkeeper David James to reach that milestone
Player to watch
With three goals in his last two games, the big Belgian is in good form, and will be looking to continue that when Manchester United visit this weekend. His physicality and pace could pose serious problems for the Red Devils’ defence, and in particular centre-back Daley Blind.
Everton have been playing well at Goodison Park this season, and Lukaku will more than likely get a few opportunities to test David De Gea, helped by the likes of Barkley, Naismith and Deuloefeu. Having scored a hat-trick against United while still with West Brom, the 22-year-old will be hoping for a repeat of that performance on Saturday.
Everton 1 – 1 Manchester United
With Everton in good form and United looking to bounce back from their defeat at the Emirates, it should be an exciting, open game of football at Goodison Park. The Toffees will probably score against a vulnerable-looking United defence, but the Red Devils have the quality to create and score as well. A draw is on the cards for this one.
Blast from the past