Everton face Manchester United at Old Trafford in the lunch time kick-off this weekend. United come into the game after a dramatic Cristiano Ronaldo winner against Villareal in stoppage-time. Everton head into the fixture following a 2-0 win against Norwich City at Goodison Park.
The two sides met in a pre-season friendly, with the Blues succumbing to a 4-0 defeat. Rafael Benitez and his side will be hoping that they can rectify that defeat with a strong showing tomorrow.
United’s last Premier League game was a 1-0 defeat at home to Aston Villa, a Kortney Hause header proving the difference. Bruno Fernandes also missed a 93rd minute penalty, with the result leaving the Red Devils fourth in the league, one point behind leaders Liverpool.
The Toffees sit one place below Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side on goal difference, with both sides having thirteen points after six games. Rafa Benitez’s side maintained their good start to the season and got back to winning ways, with an Andros Townsend penalty and an Abdoulaye Doucouré strike the difference against a resilient Canaries side.
This came after a disappointing exit in the Carabao cup to QPR and a first Premier League defeat of the season, also at the hands of Aston Villa.
United’s start to the season has left them with an identical record to Everton, but pressure is already mounting on manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær. His side were also dumped out of the Carabao cup in the same week as Everton, and this was followed by last week’s defeat to Dean Smith’s side. They will be looking to get back to winning ways against Benitez’s side this week.
Jordan Pickford made a welcome return to the Everton squad against Norwich, but the Merseyside outfit will still be without Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison, Seamus Coleman and André Gomes, with winger Alexander Iwobi also a doubt.
Without the aerial threat of Dominic Calvert-Lewin coupled with Salomón Rondón still not being 100% match fit, it will be interesting to see how the Toffees line-up. Under-23’s striker Lewis Dobbin did make his senior debut last week, so Evertonians could see more of him tomorrow.
The Reds are still without defender Harry Maguire, as well as Ivory Coast winger
Amad Diallo. Marcus Rashford returned to training but is still not match-fit. Solskjær also mentioned in his press conference that Luke Shaw is a doubt, although Aaron Wan-Bissaka is available after having served one of a two-game European suspension.
One to Watch – Manchester United
There is only one possible player that could be the one to watch for Manchester United. That is the prodigal son, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo made the return to Old Trafford in the summer from Juventus and has hit the ground running straightaway in the Premier League. Three starts, three goals and with a minutes-to-goal ratio of 90 minutes, it is one of the best in the league.
According to WhoScored, Ronaldo’s average rating in the Premier League this season is 7.43 and this has been reflected through his performances. WhoScored note his strengths include: finishing, hold-up play, passing and headed attempts.
However, Ronaldo is not without his weaknesses, his main weakness being his offside awareness, as well as his defensive contribution.
According to the Athletic, he has made the least number of pressures as a forward, averaging just 2.7 per 90 minutes.
To put it into perspective, Wilfried Zaha of Crystal Palace has made twenty pressures per 90 minutes.
These weaknesses are something that Everton could target, particularly his defensive contribution if he leaves his full-back without any cover.
One to Watch – Everton
Abdoulaye Doucouré has made a fantastic start to the season. Playing in a more advanced role, he has scored two and assisted three in the opening six games. He has played all 540 minutes of the season so far and has been crucial in the Toffees impressive start to the season.
Doucouré has an average rating of 7.33 in the Premier League so far, and alongside Demarai Gray has arguably been Everton’s most impressive player so far.
His driving runs from midfield have been impressive to witness, and he seems to be thriving off a full Goodison Park. Doucouré’s start has been that good, that WhoScored have not identified any weaknesses in his game.
However, he does have a tendency to play risky balls around the back at times, and with Ronaldo prowling and snapping at his heels, it is something he should look to avoid tomorrow.
It will certainly be an interesting game tomorrow. Everton looking to avenge the 4-0 pre-season defeat, while United are looking to get back to winning ways.
The Toffees have not beat the Reds at Old Trafford since 2013, although United have failed to beat Everton at home since 2018.
Despite this, United look to have a near full-strength team, and with Everton still missing some key first-team players, it will be hard to see how they will get a result.