Manchester United will be hoping to hit back from their awful afternoon at Arsenal when they face Everton at Goodison Park, a venue at which they have lost on their last three visits.
The home side are proving tough to beat, with just one defeat to their name so far having come from behind to pick up four points from their last two matches. The second of those was the Merseyside derby, where they started slowly and eventually went behind on 41 minutes, but they managed to draw level before the interval and from then on looked the more likely to come out on top. Leading scorer Romelu Lukaku was again sharp in front of goal.
When these sides last met in April the Toffees took full advantage of United’s vulnerability to the counter-attack, and they are well equipped to exploit the same weaknesses here. Success will come should they regularly get in behind the visitors’ midfield duo and leave the back four exposed to the threat of Lukaku and the energetic Arouna Kone. The trickery of Gerard Deulofeu may also be an effective weapon should he manage to be less of a peripheral figure than he was against Liverpool.
The manner in which Man Utd began their game at Arsenal must have come as a huge shock to Louis van Gaal, as they were well off the pace and as result were carved open almost at will by the inspired Londoners. Out of contention inside 20 minutes, their only significant achievement on the day was preventing the final score from having an embarrassing look, and so as they return to action following the international break, it is back to the drawing board.
It certainly was not the performance one would expect of a side that has title ambitions, or indeed one that came into that weekend top of the pile, but there will be a motivation to return to form in this tough encounter, where it is essential they do not concede an early goal. It is a test of character and resolve for the whole team, but perhaps nobody more so than Matteo Darmian, who has found the going difficult at right-back in recent weeks.
Everton welcome back a number of players for this clash, with Kevin Mirallas back from a three-match ban, while Tom Cleverley, Seamus Coleman and John Stones are likely to return from injury.
The visitors are unable to call upon Paddy McNair and Ashley Young, but Marcos Rojo, Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick are all fit again.
Last Meeting: The joint heaviest league defeat of Louis van Gaal’s reign so far, Man Utd were well beaten by an Everton side that broke with maximum efficiency. This was particularly in evidence for the first goal, a fine move which was finished off by James McCarthy. The second came half an hour later as John Stones headed in from a corner, before Kevin Mirallas beat a poor offside trap to easily fire in the third.
Played for both – Philip Neville: These were the only two clubs Neville represented in his 18-year professional career, with major honours aplenty coming at Man Utd where he was a Champions League winner and won the Premier League six times before moving on to Everton in 2005. On Merseyside, his captaincy led them to several top-six finishes, netting four times in 242 league outings.
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