Problems continuing to grow for Manchester United who face tricky Everton test
Everton 2-2 Manchester United
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer cannot get a break at the moment, such is the pressure which comes hand in hand with this job.
They are without a goal, never mind a win, in their last two games, following a dull 0-0 draw at home to Chelsea with an even worse defeat against Arsenal the week after.
If things weren’t bad enough, they were shocking in defeat to Turkish side Istanbul in the Champions League, piling the pressure on their manager. They are in desperate need of a win here.
Everton sat at the top of the table for three weeks after a string of fantastic performances at the start of the season. Following successive defeats in the past two weeks however, they’ve slipped to fourth.
The Toffees have not played with quite the same rhythm recently, key players such as Rodriguez just playing below their earlier standards.
It’s set up to be a thrilling match.
Form Guide (all comps): WWDLL
Reasons to be cheerful:
James Rodriguez likely to be fit
Lucas Digne returns after suspension
Reasons to be fearful:
Only a point from their last three games
Manchester United have been far better away from home recently
How quickly things can change in football.
Everton’s form has certainly dipped over the past couple of weeks, losing consecutive matches to Southampton and Newcastle.
Player availability has played a big part in that, with key players such as James Rodriguez and captain Seamus Coleman suffering through injury, as well as Lucas Digne missing last weekend through suspension.
James and Digne and likely to be back for this one, giving manager Ancelotti a huge boost. He will be keen to start picking up wins once again and not let their early form slip away completely.
Despite Manchester United’s poor form recently, they are on a winning streak of six consecutive games away from home, and it would be typical of United to pull a top performance out of the bag.
Everton must improve if they are to hang onto their top four position
Star Man – Dominic Calvert-Lewin
Still managed to score even though his side lost against Newcastle – needs better service this weekend
Form Guide (all comps): WDWLL
Reasons to be cheerful
• Anthony Martial returns after suspension
• Away form has been impressive
Reasons to be fearful
• League position is a worry for them
• Manager Solskjaer is struggling to find his best team
Often, the saying “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” comes to mind.
The formation which took Manchester United into the top three at the end of last season, a 4-3-3, seemed to be working well, though Solskjaer has recently elected to switch to a diamond formation in order to add an extra midfielder into his side.
The likes of Pogba, Fernandes, Van Der Beek, McTominay, Fred and Matic are all quality midfielders, but Solskjaer has failed to find the right formation, and the right mix of players, to succeed this season.
At times over the last few matches, Pogba and McTominay have found themselves as wingers, which is not their natural game. You feel that, as a team, they must return to just doing the basics right once more.
Fortunately, their away form is strong, winning their last six on the bounce. Striker Anthony Martial is also back after suspension.
Their manager could do with a huge performance here.
Star Man – Marcus Rashford
Quiet against Arsenal but still looks the most likely to make things happen – top scorer with 7
Martial will return straight into the line-up
Everton could see more possession with the way they play
Manchester United are the more desperate of the two
The style of Everton’s football could play into Manchester United’s hands, with the Red Devils often playing better when they are able to counter teams quickly.
Chelsea and Arsenal worked out a way to suffocate United by keeping their chances at a minimum. Everton’s defence has not been up to the same standard of late and could find it more difficult to restrict the likes of Rashford and Martial.
If Rodriguez is fit then Everton have a chance themselves, especially with Calvert-Lewin in great form.
This could be tight.
Everton 2-2 Manchester United