Manchester United picked up back-to-back Premier League wins for the first time in 2020 at Watford’s expense to boost their Champions League dreams. In fact, they’re now actually FAVOURITES (!!) to qualify, mostly thanks to rivals Manchester City being banned next season.
That being said, the Red Devils need momentum to pour pressure on their top-four rivals. They’re yet to win three league games in-a-row this season. Consistency is key to end the season on a high. But Everton are no pushovers. They suffered just their second league loss in 2020 against Arsenal but showcased enough venom which can cause United plenty of issues.
After that humiliation at Goodison Park last season, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is vying for revenge. With his side starting to find their stride, he must come up with something special to outwit tactical mastermind Carlo Ancelotti & maintain United’s top-four charge.
Everton Predicted XI
Pickford, Sidibe, Keane, Mina, Baines, Delph, Gomes, Richarlison, Sigurdsson, Bernard, Calvert-Lewin
Everton have a few injury issues as Theo Walcott & Lucas Digne are doubts as they’re recovering from injuries. Jean-Philippe Gbamin is their only long-term absentee.
Manchester United Predicted XI
De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Shaw, Williams, Matic, Fred, Fernandes, Martial, Ighalo
Expect United to revert back to a back-three for this game. Odion Ighalo should FINALLY get his full-debut by replacing the underperforming Dan James. Paul Pogba is STILL recovering from an injury while Marcus Rashford is United’s only long-term absentee.
Everton vs Manchester United Match Preview
United have finally started to find some rhythm. They’ve won four out their last six games (in all competitions), are defending better and grinding out good results. Sure VAR has played a factor in recent wins but that doesn’t undermine their certain improvement.
A figure to have inspired their surge is Bruno Fernandes. He ran the show against Watford like he’d been here for years. But against Everton, he faces intensity like never before. With Fabian Delph & Andre Gomes tracking his every move, he’ll need to be especially cunning in creating definitive chances & spraying through-balls to free up Anthony Martial & co.
The Frenchman has now scored in three consecutive games. He’s also creating an intuitive link with Bruno. But Martial often looks too nonchalant by not working hard enough or running enough to torment defenders. He must keep Everton’s stringent defenders at their toes with his persistent movement, use his dribbling ability as well as finishing skills to good use if he’s to move forward in reaching that “20-goal” mark set by OGS.
Martial should be supported by Ighalo, whose physicality should make things easier for him. Ighalo just needs to make good use of his ability to slip into prime position inside the box and place his shots on target to get his first United goal.
But the real battles will play out deeper in midfield. Fred & Nemanja Matic have been solid in hounding opponents into regaining possession. But both showed concerning signs in not being able to move the ball into attack quick enough & struggling under the Watford high-press on Sunday.
If they show any signs of vulnerability, Everton will mow right over them. Matic must redeem himself after playing a big part in United’s 4-0 loss to the Merseyside last season which propelled him to admit his mistakes. He must remain strong against their blistering attacks, use his experience & physicality to muscle his way into dominating midfield.
United might’ve kept five clean-sheets in six since that Burnley embarrassment, but Everton’s strikeforce is absolutely unrelenting. Ancelotti has lit up a spark in the Dominic Calvert-Lewin-Richarlison duo, whose link-up play can make things very uncomfortable for any backline. Calvert-Lewin, especially, is the bullying natural centre-forward United must crave for.
Even if they opt for a 3-man defence, United’s backline still must retain utmost concentration. Harry Maguire is finding his ground as captain but this is the kind of games he proves his price-tag. He must control his defensive line, keep Calvert-Lewin grounded and ensure defence doesn’t get stretched too easily.
Eric Bailly should get another go after his wondrous showing against Chelsea. He can be wild at times, but his hard-hitting style is quintessential to intimidate their attackers. Luke Shaw is getting better & must continue being a composed figure, while David De Gea’s shot-stopping heroics will be tested by Everton’s relentless attempts.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka & Brandon Williams should get enough license to move forward but their productivity must be more accurate. Unless they find Martial or Fernandes in prime positions, United will find it difficult to create chances. But to pull out the win, they must put away whatever comes their way and remain sturdy defensively to keep Goodison silent.
As much as I think this will lead to an inevitable 1-1 draw or something like that, I feel United have momentum on their side to grind through another win. I’ll go with them winning 2-1.