Everton vs Manchester United
This Premier League match last season was arguably the lowest of low points for Manchester United for a very long time.
Indeed, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer this week revealed that the 4-0 reverse marked his lowest ebb as United manager.
He had only just been appointed full-time boss when he took his side to Goodison Park on Easter Day.
What he witnessed from so many of the players was exactly what his predecessor José Mourinho had reportedly criticised them for: a lousy attitude and lack of work ethic as Paul Pogba and co were lame, tame, and toothless.
The Norwegian has promised there will be no repeat that this weekend – surely such a scenario would be enough to end the United careers of one or two – but after a fortnight of encouraging results and displays, are United really equipped to make a top-four spot?
This SBOTOP observer doesn’t think so but would love nothing more than to be proved wrong after branding them spineless following this corresponding fixture last term.
This contest against Carlo Ancelotti’s Toffees will be a real indicator to see if they can genuinely secure a return to Europe’s top table.
Everton harbour European ambitions of their own, of course, and until last weekend’s narrow defeat at Arsenal, they were very much on their own good run of form.
The appointment of the wily Italian has been a real coup for Everton and they certainly have players who can cause teams damage.
Those danger men include Brazilian Richarlison, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who has 12 league goals this season, and Gylfi Sigurdsson, who has been directly involved in nine goals in his last nine Premier League games against United – scoring five and assisting four.
Everton are also unbeaten in six league matches at Goodison Park (W4, D2), with their last defeat coming against Norwich in Marco Silva’s final home match.
The Toffees have scored in each of their last nine Premier League games. Prior to the weekend, only runaway leaders Liverpool (36 matches) are on a longer run.
Premier League team news tells us that Everton will monitor left-back Lucas Digne, who missed the defeat at Arsenal with a muscle strain.
Theo Walcott is back in contention while the fit-again Andre Gomes could replace Morgan Schneiderlin, who is ruled out with a knee problem, although he is not expected to be ready to start.
There is a question mark against United striker Anthony Martial who picked up a muscle injury in training.
Goalkeeper David de Gea and possibly teenager Mason Greenwood, who were rested in Thursday’s Europa League win, are in line for recalls.
This always used to be a big top-flight clash and despite both sides having a barren spell — Everton for much longer, of course — it is still a game which attracts the interest of football fans generally.
It is only two months since they last met. That was shortly before Christmas in a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford, a few days before Ancelotti was appointed and when United needed a goal from young substitute Greenwood to rescue them a point.
Few would be surprised if they both have to settle for a point apiece this weekend either.
Since their first meeting in 1892 when United were known as Newton Heath, this has been a traditional English football heavyweight clash.
For so long in the 1980s, Everton had the edge. In the Premier League era, however, United have largely been the dominant force.
Overall, they have 88 triumphs to Everton’s 70 with a further 44 games ending level.
Last season’s home romp was Everton’s first victory against United in nine. They had previously been beaten three times in a row under Mourinho, including two seasons ago when Martial and Jesse Lingard were on target.
That remains United’s only victory at Goodison in four years though, which gives an indication of how tricky and hostile the Blues crowd can be.
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