Manchester United V Everton – Match Preview

    It’s finally here. Time to face our old boss David Moyes on Wednesday at Old Trafford.


    Man Utd

    United are unbeaten in 12 games in all competitions but have drawn two on the bounce in the Premier League to Cardiff and Tottenham away. Add this to the desire Moyes will have for his old team not to beat him, they will be desperate to win.

    The team selection is difficult to predict. My opinion is that Rafael will return from injury, with Smalling looking suspiciously poor in the right-back position recently. Moyes has uncharacteristically chopped and changed his central defence and it could be any two of Ferdinand, Vidic or Evans as a pairing. Wayne Rooney managed to survive the Tottenham game on Sunday without picking up a yellow card and will be available to face his boyhood club. Phil Jones however didn’t manage to avoid a caution, and so it is expected that Fellaini will come in. If Van Persie has recovered from his injury, I doubt he’ll be thrown straight into the starting line-up so we’ll see either Welbeck or Hernandez joining Rooney. Both have scored 2 goals against Everton in the past. The final selection question will be if there is rotation with the wingers, as Valencia and Kagawa will have played 5 games in two weeks if they are selected again on Wednesday.

    Expected team:


    The Blues managed a comfortable win over Stoke this weekend and are now unbeaten in 6. Barkley, who was on 4 yellow cards and in danger of missing the trip to Old Trafford, was dropped for suspiciously this reason. Kevin Mirallas, who had his best game of the season a week earlier in the Merseyside derby, was dropped but again this could be down to 2 massive games coming up and wanting him in his best shape possible.

    How the away side will line up is anyone’s guess. A lot different than if this was Moyes’ team, where the team selection and outcome of the game had already been scripted. Obviously there are dead certs for specific places, most of the defence are nailed on, McCarthy and Barry surely can’t be dropped and Lukaku is 1,000x better than Jelavic. The questions mainly revolves around the attacking three behind the striker. Barkley was dropped for the Stoke game and it could be said that this was for a rest/avoid suspension but we never know, it could be a tactical decision by Martinez. Then there is the dilemma of the right-wing.Deulofeu put in an outstanding performance against Stoke and Liverpool, it would be harsh to drop him and it would also be amazing to see such a positive selection to run at Evra and Ferdinand/Vidic all game. There are still questions over his defensive trackbackability (yes, that’s a new word) so it maybe the fresher Mirallas that gets the nod. I’d expect Pienaar to keep his place, as Bryan Oviedo is still largely untested at Premier League level. If Oviedo is on the off chance dropped for a more defensive selection, albeit unlikely, it could mean that Pienaar could be the one to lose his place for both Mirallas and Deulofeu to run rings around United’s slow midfield.

    Expected team:

    Tactical Analysis

    Form Players?

    Both sides have a few players in particularly good form. For the home side, our old foe Wayne Rooney has been in incredible form. He has 8 goals in 11 appearances and has also contributed 5 assists. All Evertonians will know he brings much more than this though, he will pick the ball up deep and deliver inch perfect cross field passes, he will dribble past two players and create chances and he will, as the stats prove, provide the all-important end product.

    Next up for United is Antonio Valencia. In recent games he’s been a key figure in their attack and this has been shown in the stats where his right-wing side has dominated, seeing 43% of the action going forward so far this season. There may be a hint of déjà vu every time he receives the ball, the ‘shift it right and cross’ is a common occurrence but to be fair to him it is successful and does create chances.

    For EvertonLukaku can’t be ignored as the main man. The Belgian has scored 8 goals in 8 starts. He can be quiet for 60/70 minutes in a game but turn up for the remaining 20/30 and blow other teams away. It was brilliant to watch him against Stoke, despite being 3-0 and him having a good performance, you could see he was desperate to score and duly provided.

    The last bit of this section is not dedicated to one player but to the ‘engine room’ Blues. James McCarthy and Gareth Barry have been immense in nearly every game this season. Both players share top stats in passes per game and pass completion, but the main aspects of their play go unnoticed. They both bring a calming presence on the field and they both bring non-stop workhorse attitudes off the ball.

    Key Areas

    Bryan Oviedo is still untested defensively against Premier League opposition. While he played against Stoke last weekend, he wasn’t tested in any way, shape or form and this will be different on Wednesday. As previously mentioned, Valencia dominates United’s attacking side and so Oviedo will get the chance to silence his critics or prove their scepticism correct. If Rafael does return as well, it could mean extra trouble as the Brazilian is a consistent overlapper andPienaar will be key defensively.

    The next key area will be just in front of Everton’s back four. Rooney, Kagawa (if he plays) and one of the central midfield pair will always look to occupy the space between the back four and the central midfield and this is an area where the game could be won and lost. You’d expect we’d cope there with Barry andMcCarthy in good form, but they’ll need to make sure they’re continuously switched on because one lapse in concentration can prove so costly against this high quality opposition.

    One way Everton can get at United themselves is the space between their defence and central midfield. There has been much talk about United’s midfield, they have dabbled with Fellaini, Jones and Cleverly, occasionally selected Giggs, and Carrick is out injured. Whoever Everton’s attacking three are, there will be quality in dribbling and key passes. If Barkley and Mirallas are selected, they are two of the highest successful dribblers in the league and could surely get at Ferdinand or Vidic who are susceptible to speed and skill running at them. If it’s Deulofeu given a start or even brought on, it’s going to be the same. IfPienaarOsman or both are selected, there are guaranteed key passes offered in the game.

    An Even Match Up?

    Looking through the stats, both teams are incredibly evenly matched. Both score goals from the same areas in similar situations (open play, set pieces), both have astonishingly equal passing statistics (through balls, long balls and short passes per game) and both share offensive and defensive figures that tend to stead them in the ‘average’ category in terms of not dominating any particular way of playing but being competent in most aspects of the game.


    It’s going to be weird (great) going to Old Trafford against United feeling confident of at least not completely folding for a simple United win and also seeing some positive, attacking football. If we see attacking selections it will only breed confidence into the side and fans and it will be really interesting to watch. Of course, there’s always the danger of getting battered but I think most Evertonians would accept that risk rather than see a repeat of the horrible durge that has been served up for a long time now. They could be there for the taking. COYB.



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