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V

MANCHESTER UNITED

April 26, 2015; 13:30 BST

Goodison Park, Liverpool

*****

Almost exactly a year ago, a dire Manchester United team were outclassed at Goodison Park in a 0-2 defeat that marked the end of David Moyesa ill-fated time as the cluba s head coach. While United come into Sundaya s game on the back of a defeat, ita s safe to say that manager Louis van Gaal will not be sacked even if his side faces an unlikely defeat to the Toffees.

Such has been the impact of the Dutchman on United that opposite number Roberto Martinez, too, has heaped a bucket of praise on him. United, finally, have their identity back after almost two years of struggle. Van Gaala s side have won six out of the last eight games, including wins over Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Manchester City and come into the game as the overwhelming favourites. The Red Devils also have the chance of moving into second spot if results go their way, marking a five place jump in their position on the table from the same time last year.

Team News & Tactics
Everton

While their opponents may be the form team coming into the contest, Everton themselves have been quite impressive in the last few games. The Toffees have won four out of the last of the five games and seem to be gaining confidence with each passing week. Like Van Gaal, Martinez has stuck to his beliefs and philosophy and is finally starting to get some joy with his team playing some good football again.

The Spaniard likes his team to play from the back and press high up the pitch, something that cost Everton several goals at the start of the year. But all of it wasna t down to the manager as goalkeeper Tim Howard suffered from a serious dip in form early on in the season, making the back four in front of him quite nervous. In those last five games, Howard has only let in two goals and has made some tremendous stops.

To add to that, Martinez seems to have found the balance required by his team with the new found 4-1-4-1 formation. Gareth Barry, in particular, plays an important role as the holding midfielder, helping Everton hold that high line when in attack.

Predicted line-up (4-14-1): Tim Howard, Leighton Baines, Seamus Coleman, Phil Jagielka, John Stones, Gareth Barry, Aaron Lennon, Ross Barkley, James McCarthy, Kevin Mirallas, Romelu Lukaku

Manchester United

Despite being defeated by league leaders Chelsea last Saturday, Manchester United wona t be too disheartened by their performance. Van Gaala s side dominated possession and moved the ball well all through the match, creating as many as three clear cut chances which the cluba s premier strikers a Radamel Falcao and Wayne Rooney failed to convert.

It was a defensive mistake that gave Jose Mourinhoa s men their only chance as Eden Hazard produced a special goal, following a delicious back heel from Oscar. Van Gaal said that he was a prouda of his teama s display, despite suffering yet another defeat at the hands of Mourinho. With important players such as Daley Blind, Michael Carrick, Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo all missing from the match, it is easy to understand the Dutchmana s view.

The match also marks the return of Marouane Fellaini back to Goodison Park, a place where the Belgian made his name under former boss David Moyes. Injured last year, Fellaini was spared the hostile reception that he will sure receive when he steps on the pitch on Sunday. Van Gaal talked about the Belgian in his pre-match press conference, talking about how the 27-year-old must keep his a coola in the game. This is after Van Gaal was told that a lot of Everton players who know Fellainia s fiery temper would try to get him to react.

There isna t much joy for Van Gaal of United fans when it comes to the Dutchmana s team selection as he revealed that Carrick, Rojo and Jones will all miss Sundaya s game. The 63-year-old, did, however, say that Daley Blind may be available in addition to Johnny Evans who is back after serving a six-game ban for spitting on Papiss Cisse in early March.

Predicted Line-up (4-2-3-1): De Gea, Valencia, Smalling, McNair, Shaw, Blind, Herrera, Mata, Fellaini, Young, Rooney

Key Statistics

  • Everton have dropped more points from winning positions than any other team in the Premier League this season (19)
  • The only team to lose to an opponent in the Premier League on more occasions than Everton vs Man Utd (31) is Aston Villa vs Man Utd (32)
  • The Red Devils have won just three of their last nine away league games (D4 L2)
  • Man Utd have not lost three successive away games in the league against Everton since September 1987 (four successive defeats at Goodison Park)

juan mataKey Player

Juan Mata (Manchester United)

After a difficult first year at United, playmaker Juan Mata has finally found his feet at the Old Trafford club. Mata has led Uniteda s resurgence in many ways, putting in a stellar display against Spurs, scoring both the goals against Liverpool and scoring another against City. Mata has made a place down Uniteda right hand side and has combined beautifully with Ander Herrera and Antonio Valencia on that wing. With Fellaini moving towards the left on many occasions, Mata drifts into the central areas, dictating Uniteda s play and creating chances.

Match Prediction

Everton 1-3 Manchester United

United appear to be favourites going into this contest and are likely going to come away with all three points. The Red Devilsa midfield appears too clever for this Everton side, who maybe in form, but arena t feeling quite as confident just yet.

Blast From The Past