Match Preview | Manchester United (A)

So here we are, an away day D-day you could say. In a fixture list crammed with difficult games, this one by far seems the most daunting. United have been in blistering form so far this season and add to that the sub plots of facing up against old flames, there’s a lot more on this one that usual. It’s been mixed fortunes for both Lukaku and Rooney so far this season. Lukaku has been on fire, scoring five goals already this season, whilst Rooney seemed to start well, scoring goals against Stoke and Manchester City but very much like the rest of the Everton team, has somewhat drifted away in recent games, much to the bizarre delight of some United fans. But let’s not forget though, Everton made Manchester United pay over £90 million for their new striker, whereas Rooney’s Everton deal cost a fraction of that. So in short, fuck off United.

I’ve decided there’s no room for negativity today. I mean, we’re drowning in it as a club but for my own sanity, I’m not entertaining it. It’s Manchester United after all, Mancs v Scousers, Red v Blue, Rom v Roo… Okay, the rivalry is somewhat diluted in comparison to their rivalry with our neighbours but that’s always going to be the case when Liverpool have been so obsessed with United since they knocked them off their perch as the top club in England. But there’s been some special moments against United over the years, Ferguson headed winner, Ferguson headed winner 10 years later, Ferguson at Old Trafford (god, big Dunc loved this one), 2009 semi-final win, Oviedo winner, Neville’s crunch tackle on Ronaldo, Arteta’s equaliser, the 4-4 draw, 3-0 win in Moyes’s return to Goodison….there’s been some crackers.

Everton’s last win against United at Old Trafford came in 2013 thanks to Bryan Oviedo’s winner putting us 1-0 up in the 86th minute

Everton’s record at Old Trafford in the Premier League isn’t great, well in fact, it’s shite. But I’ve told you, it positivity today. So, here’s a surprising fact for you. Everton are actually in their best run of form at Old Trafford in the whole Premier League era. In the last five years their record stands at W1-D3–L2. There’s no expectation on Everton to get a result, which has actually been somewhat of a rarity this season. As Koeman acknowledged, amongst (many) other things, the squad has looked scared. It will be interesting to see how the team can perform when the shackles are off in terms of expectations. Koeman also admitted he was having crunch talks with some senior players on Friday afternoon following the recent performances, which I admire. We have all been openly critical (rightly so) of Koeman in recent weeks but this is a move in the right direction. An opportunity for all parties to clear the air and refocus.

I expect a more balanced Everton side on Sunday. I think Koeman has stuck with the ‘do your own thing’ formation for too many games now, with disastrous results. I’m expecting (well praying) that we see some width in the side. When you’re missing that big outlet up top, its vital you have width to spread the play and work the ball forward, too many times play is breaking down at the Defence(!) because our play is too narrow and the ball can’t stick when hoofed up top to our lone striker. Hopefully Koeman is ready to change it and try something new.

And there we go, deep breathing exercises got me through this match preview without any (particularly) critical comments. Because the truth is, Everton need a big result. Let’s all get behind the team, do our part and hope the players can do theirs. Up the Toffees.

– David (@DAHughes92)

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