Former Everton head honcho, David Moyes, will make his long-awaited return to Goodison Park this Sunday, and with him he’ll be bringing two former Blue’s. One in Wayne Rooney who he himself sold almost ten years ago to the same Manchester United side he now manages, and Marouane Fellani who he saw rise to stardom at Everton and then famously snatched him away from the Blue side of Mercyside right at the summer deadline at the start of the season.
And while it will certainly be an emotionally-charged day on both sides, emotions that shouldn’t exactly be swept under the rug, it’s the match – and more importantly a vital 3 points – that must be focused on, and not the return of some formerly prominent Everton figures.
The loss earlier in the week to Crystal palace has taken Everton out of the driver’s seat for 4th place, and yet again has them looking up at Arsenal who they just three weeks ago dominated to take control of the last Champion’s League position. To say a win is a must is an understatement. United have little to play for this year other than qualifying for the Europa league, but this match will no doubt be personal for a few of the Red Devils – despite it being “just another match.”
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Everton came into Old Trafford back in December and left with a 1-0 victory. In that match, Matinez deployed a more defensive lineup to stifle United’s attacking options, and appeared to be content to sit back in defense and play off a counter attack.
With this map you can clearly see that Everton was far more active in their own half as they relied heavily on their defense. The match on Sunday will likely be similar as United still feature some dangerous attacking players, and Everton will need to make sure they have plenty of men behind the ball. However, they’re unlikely to completely shut out the visitors so if they’re to play the counter-attacking game they’ll need to capitalize when the opportunities arise.
Prediction: Everton 2 – 1 United
- McCarthy, who didn’t make the first eleven against Palace, should be restored to the starters as they’ll need his presence in defensive midfield to counter United’s creative midfielders.
- Baines was injured when the two teams first met, so his inclusion will obviously be a welcomed sight. He, along with Coleman, will be crucial in defense as United (much similar to Everton) love to employ their fullback’s in attack out on the wings along with their left and right midfielders.
- Jagielka could make the bench, but Stones will again start in his place. And that’s not a bad thing because he’s been in top form and has even caused the question to be raised: “what do we do when Jag’s is fully fit”
- Howard’s been a rock all year, and was rewarded with an extension earlier in the week. Not really pertaining to the match, just good to hear.
Lukaku’s been almost non existent the past two matches, but he remains Everton’s best scoring threat and should continue to be utilized. The counter attacking trap, if utilized, could be just what the doctor ordered for him as that could leave him with plenty of room to expose United’s back line.
Mirallas has had a stretch of goals lately and could be a strong play this week, but only if you already own him. Don’t go spending a transfer on him.
Baines and Coleman, though they might not get forward as much in this one, still are among the best of the best as far as fantasy defenders go. You’re starting them if you have them.
Though he’ll probably concede a goal, a tightened up defensive unit should see that Howard has a good day at the office. Expect several saves as well as the full 90 and hopefully only the one goal.
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Be on the look out for my match notes after the contest, and as always…COME ON YOU BLUES!
@LTtheGreat is where I can be located in the Twitterverse