Last Saturday must have exercised more or less every single one of my emotions. Looking back on it, scraping a 2-1 win over West Ham shouldn’t have merited such elation as well as turning me into this introverted nervous wreck. But as my voice slowly returns to its normal pitch and strength following last weekend’s endeavors, I’ve come to realise that such a win could prove to be very invaluable. A team that had been heavily scrutinized for their lack of mental strength and ability to absorb pressure held firm following the dismissal of our cynical captain, the collective realisation of the games importance and sheer energy from all corners of the stadium was enough to get Manchester United over the line.
I firmly believe that the offside given to Kevin Nolan was divine intervention. Nine times out of ten the assistant referee wouldn’t spot such a narrow offside, maybe the footballing gods are finally smiling on Manchester United.
The visit of Everton will provide a far sterner test for Louis van Gaal’s team on Sunday. Home games against Everton are seldom formalities; the 4-4 draw which turned the title race into Manchester City’s favour back in 2012 still haunts me to this day. The last 10 home games against Everton have resulted in 6 Manchester United victories, last season they recorded their first win at Old Trafford since 1992 (Cheers, Dave)
An Everton team that prides itself on its defensive solidarity has been leaking goals to quite a worrying extent this season. After 6 games the Merseyside club have conceded 14 goals and scored 12. They currently sit in 15th position having only won once so far this season. The strains of European football have potentially served as a detriment to Roberto Martinez’s side. Having played an away match in Russia on a Thursday, Manchester United should be faster out the blocks this weekend.
Roberto Martinez has often favoured a 4-3-3 system this season, with Steven Naismith as a false 9 and Romelu Lukaku playing wide left. Although some will say that playing Lukaku in a seemingly alien position is wrong, it does mean that the right back has a job on his hands. Should Louis van Gaal elect to employ the 4-1-2-1-2 system again, Manchester United could be susceptible to wide attacks from the likes of Coleman and Baines, who notoriously launch deadly attacks from the wingback position. Playing through the middle against Everton ought to merit some success, however. Going for the jugular against a team with the worst defensive record in the league this season is somewhat paramount. Expect a lively opening 20 minutes.
As far as injuries go Roberto Martinez has a slight selection headache due to the fact that Coleman, McCarthy, Distin and Piennar all face late fitness tests as they return from injury. Two of Evertons brightest sparks in the form of Ross Barkley and Kevin Milrallas won’t be available on Sunday. Generally, Everton do have plenty of strength and depth despite a few injury headaches.
As per usual however, 6 injuries would be considered small-time if you’re a Manchester United fan. In his press conference earlier today, Louis van Gaal stated that Paddy Mcnair would retain his place in the starting lineup due to the fact that Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans aren’t ready physically for Sundays clash. Ander Herrera will miss out following a fractured rib, but the implications of the injury aren’t as severe as first feared. Other absentees include Young, Carrick, Fellaini, Lingard and Wilson.
The worst defence in the league this season, played in Russia on Thursday night, key players injured; one would think that Manchester United should breeze past a vulnerable looking team. But as I’ve found out all too often, there is no place for complacency in football.
Prediction: Manchester United 2-2 Everton