The new season is now underway, with Everton starting off tomorrow welcoming Manchester United to Goodison Park. With their recent history of fixtures, this should be another corker of a game. High profile signings on both sides should ensure that interest remains high and the crowd will be all pumped up for this one.
Everton will be looking to make a positive start for a change after enduring some miserable beginnings in previous years. Manager David Moyes has been at a loss to explain the early season struggles Everton have faced. This trial by fire tomorrow should go a long way towards proving what kind of a start the Toffees will have this year. Like any other season there are some new faces in the squad so how quickly they fit in with the program and adapt to Moyes’s system will be a determining factor.
More about the game after the jump.
New signing Kevin Mirallas is not expected to start but will be unveiled at halftime to the Goodison faithful. It will be odd to see the boys in blue trot out to ‘Z Cars’ with Tim Cahill nowhere in sight, but you can rest assured he will be watching the game.
Team News –
Everton came through the preseason part of the programme relatively unscathed with no major injuries to worry about. Darron Gibson and Marouane Fellaini should both have recovered from minor niggles and will play in the middle of the park. Steven Pienaar is back and will be on the left while Seamus Coleman will probably start on the right after Moyes used him in the last couple of friendlies. Victor Anichebe is also a possibility for that position. In front new signing Steven Naismith is expected to play the deeper role vacated by Cahill while Nikica Jelavic will start as the lone striker.
A possible change could be Fellaini stepping up into Naismith’s position and Phil Neville providing defensive cover as Gibson will attempt to nullify the threat of Shinji Kagawa and Paul Scholes. In goal will be Tim Howard who had an excellent outing for the USA against Mexico. The backline is Leighton Baines on the left and Tony Hibbert at right, with two out of Phil Jagielka, Sylvain Distin and Johnny Heitinga forming the central pairing.
United will be faced with their usual over-abundance of assets, especially at forward where Sir Alex Ferguson has two teams worth of midfielders and forwards ready to play. However his squad is still plagued by injury defensively – Rio Ferdinand will miss the game, as will Phil Jones, Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Rafael. Patrice Evra will be at left back and Antonio Valencia filling in at right. Skipper Nemanja Vidic will be a long-awaited return to the middle and will probably be partnered by Michael Carrick. David de Gea will be between the posts again after enduring a sometimes-rocky first season last year.
With both Valencia and Carrick forced to play defence, Fergie could feasibly put Scholes, Nani and Kagawa in the middle of the park, and a fearsome frontline of Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck - Everton will be in for a torrid time if that does come fruition.
Keys To The Game –
The keyword for Moyes’ side will be ‘disruption’ as they attempt to harass the United ball-carriers and get in the passing lanes. Controlling both Rooney and van Persie sounds like a truly tall order and it will take off-days for both snipers to keep them off the board. When they do have the ball, Everton will attack with intent especially with the weakened backline United will field. Pienaar was incisive and sharp in his spell last year and will provide a lot of the creativity paired with Baines.
For United, they will attempt to prevent the meltdown that they seem to fall into holding two-goal leads against Everton. Scholes is almost 38 and one imagines Fergie will try to save his legs by having Kagawa doing most of the running. It is possible that with their embarrassment of riches, they haven't really developed a focal point of attack as yet - however Rooney does usually save his best for when he plays against the club he has supported since boyhood.
Match Facts -
- Everton have only one win in their last fourteen games against United.
- In their last thirteen home games, the Toffees have ten wins, scoring twenty-five and with six clean sheets.
- Stretching back to last season, Everton are unbeaten in their last nine Premiership matches.
- Manchester United were the best away team last season, with 42 points in nineteen road games.
- The Red Devils also scored more headed goals than any other teams last year with sixteen.
- Finally, United had the best chance conversion rate (19%) and shot accuracy (52%) as well in the previous year.