Manchester United will be desperate to return to winning ways and take a grip on the top four race when they take on Everton at Goodison Park.

Just four gameweeks remain for a captivating Premier League season to end, and Sunday will have three matches on show with a lot riding on them. The first match of the day will see two European football hopefuls locking horns, as Everton welcome Manchester United to Goodison Park.

It has been a frustratingly stop-start season for Everton, who have been taking two steps forward and one step back all season long. The same has been the case in the last month or so as a three-game run, that included wins over Chelsea and Arsenal, being snapped by an anti-climactic 2-0 defeat at the hands of Fulham, although they remain in contention for a seventh-placed finish.

Manchester United, on the other hand, have started stuttering after a bright start to their time under the tutelage of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Ironically, the biggest result of the season has given way to a disastrous run of form that has seen the Red Devils lose five of their last seven fixtures, though they will still fancy their chances of a top four finish.

The reverse fixture, played at Old Trafford back in October, ended in a 2-1 win for Manchester United, with Everton only managing a late consolation goal through Gylfi Sigurdsson. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the Premier League encounter.

Team News & Tactics

Everton

Marco Silva has a few pressing concerns hampering his preparations for the visit of Manchester United. On Sunday, the Everton boss is set to be without two key first-team players, while Morgan Schneiderlin is a minor doubt due to an ankle complaint.

The major absentees though, are Yerry Mina and Andre Gomes. While Mina is yet to recover from a hamstring injury, Gomes will serve the first of his three-game ban after accepting a charge of violent conduct after stamping on Aleksandar Mitrovic in Everton’s 2-0 loss to Fulham.

The Portuguese midfielder’s actions have thus, earned him the retrospective action. In his absence, it is likely that Schneiderlin will start in the midfield double pivot alongside Idrissa Gueye. The duo will primarily be tasked with blocking the passing lanes for Paul Pogba while also recycling possession effectively.

The onus, meanwhile, will be on Gylfi Sigurdsson to pull the strings in the final third and set up the chances for the runners around him. While Richarlison and Bernard will likely be the two wide men mixing it up to draw the full-backs out of position. Upfront, Dominic Calvert-Lewin will aim to use his pace to good effect against the stuttering Manchester United centre-backs.

At the back, the absence of Mina means Michael Keane and Kurt Zouma will form the central defensive partnership. Seamus Coleman, who will also don the armband for Everton, and Lucas Digne will be the marauding full-backs who will pose a great deal of threat with their deliveries, while Jordan Pickford will man the goal.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Pickford; Coleman, Keane, Zouma, Digne; Gueye, Schneiderlin; Richarlison, Sigurdsson, Bernard; Calvert-Lewin

Manchester United

The list of absentees continues to trim down for Manchester United, with Eric Bailly (concussion) and Antonio Valencia (calf) the only players on the treatment tables. Luke Shaw is the third and final player who will miss out against Everton, as he serves the second of his two-match ban.

The absence of Shaw is being dearly felt, especially with Ashley Young being in such horrible form. The veteran Englishman though, should start on Sunday, especially with Marcos Rojo being far from impressive on his return to action against West Ham United.

Young should be the left-back once again, but Diogo Dalot should return, after Victor Lindelof was surprisingly picked as the right-back earlier this week at Barcelona. Lindelof though, should start at the heart of the Manchester United defence, with Chris Smalling being his partner, while there is no looking past David de Gea in goal despite his howler in the UEFA Champions League tie.

Up ahead in midfield, Fred is at risk of losing his place after an underwhelming display against Barcelona. And, with Nemanja Matic now fit and available, it is likely that he will return at the Brazilian’s expense. Scott McTominay though, was solid once again and should keep out the fit-again Ander Herrera, with Paul Pogba orchestrating play in the middle of the park.

Up ahead in attack, Anthony Martial is on the chopping block after a couple of dreadful performances, with Romelu Lukaku likely to replace him. Marcus Rashford is a certain starter, with the final spot a toss-up between Jesse Lingard and Alexis Sanchez. While Sanchez made a solid impression off the bench on Tuesday, Lingard should hold on to his spot for now.

Probable Lineup (4-1-2-1-2): de Gea; Dalot, Smalling, Lindelof, Young; Matic; McTominay, Pogba; Lingard; Lukaku, Rashford

Betting Odds

Favourable Bets

1. Manchester United to win @ 2.30

2. Marcus Rashford to score anytime @ 2.50

Underdog Bets

1. Manchester United to win to NIL @ 4.00

Key Stats

  • Everton have lost more Premier League matches against Manchester United than any side has against another in the history of the competition (36).
  • Everton’s only previous league win, and Man Utd’s only previous league defeat on Easter Sunday came in this exact fixture in the 2013-14 campaign (Everton 2-0 Man Utd).
  • Manchester United have lost their last two Premier League away games. The Red Devils have not lost three in a row on the road since January 1996.
  • Everton have won their last two home Premier League games against ‘Big Six’ sides, as many as they had in their previous 19 in the competition (W2 D7 L10). They last won three home league games in a row against such opponents in the competition in March 2012.
  • Anthony Martial has scored in each of his last three Premier League games Everton. The last Manchester United player to score in four straight matches against a single opponent was Wayne Rooney vs Hull City in November 2014.

Player to Watch

Alexis Sanchez

Last chance at redemption? (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Last chance at redemption? (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

To say that it has been a season to forget would be a gross understatement about how poor Alexis Sanchez has been so far. But, upon making his return to action this week, the Chilean showed signs of resurgence in a cameo against his former side Barcelona.

Prior evidence of his Manchester United stint though, suggests that this could be a false dawn. It is now up to Sanchez to prove his naysayers wrong, starting with the game against Everton, when he should be afforded another appearance off the bench.

The chances are running out for Alexis Sanchez to keep his place in the first-team setup intact. If he can manage to make an impression against Everton, chances are he’d have earned himself some sort of a future with the Red Devils. A big game beckons for the former Arsenal superstar.

Prediction

Everton 1-2 Manchester United

The match brings together two teams that have been the epitome of inconsistency of late. Everton have shown that they can stand up to the challenge of the ‘Big Six’ sides in recent outings. But, Manchester United have had their number of late, meaning it could be an interesting tie between the two sides.

And, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer pointing towards a number of players getting a reality check, this is the perfect platform for the hurt players to return to winning ways. The match though, should be an end to end affair, with Everton being spurred on by the Goodison Park faithfuls.

This should be a tie with very little to separate the two sides, with the margins of error being slim. A certain Alexis Sanchez though, might have a say in things and The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-1 win for Manchester United to return to top four, even if temporarily so, ahead of Arsenal’s game against Crystal Palace later in the day.

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