After such a disheartening defeat to Crystal Palace on Wednesday night, handing Arsenal the advantage in the race for fourth spot in the league, it would usually be hard to pick the players’ heads up for the next fixture.
However this is an Everton-Manchester United game, a fixture known to be filled with high tempo and high intensity fuelled by a pulsating Goodison atmosphere. We also have the extra ingredient of the return of a few familiar faces to Goodison Park to add to the boiling pot only adding to what is surely going to be an electrifying atmosphere.
Man. United have been in a stop/start run of form throughout the season with a hint of crisis at times under David Moyes. That being the case, away from the intimidating scene of Old Trafford, the Red Devils have been nothing short of superb.
It is important for the Blues to remember, Moyes will be looking for a win just as much as any Evertonian wants Everton to win after being disgruntled with the reception he received at Old Trafford in the reverse fixture.
For Everton, Phil Jagielka has a behind-closed-doors friendly in the week to gain some match fitness for the final three games of the season after his hamstring injury, making the return this weekend unlikely. Midfield engine James McCarthy has fully recovered from the muscle injury that kept him on the bench on Wednesday against Palace. Steven Pienaar and Darron Gibson are still not fit enough to return to the Blues’ squad, both with knee injuries. Also with a knee problem; Arouna Kone remains on the injury table, as does Bryan Oviedo with his ankle.
Former Toffee Wayne Rooney returns to the United squad after recovering from a toe injury. Another former Everton player, Marouane Fellaini is set for his first return to Goodison after recuperating from his calf problem. Right-back Rafael is out with a thigh injury, as is Robin van Persie with his knee and Jonny Evans is a doubt with his ‘long-term’ calf strain.
Goalkeepers: Howard and Robles
Defenders: Alcaraz, Baines, Browning, Coleman, Distin, Hibbert, Garbutt and Stones.
Midfielders: Barkley, Barry, Deulofeu, McCarthy, McGeady, Mirallas and Osman.
Forwards: Lukaku and Naismith.
Goalkeepers: De Gea and Lindegaard.
Defenders: Buttner, Evans, Evra, Ferdinand, Jones, Smalling and Vidic.
Midfielders: Carrick, Fellaini, Fletcher, Giggs, Januzaj, Kagawa, Mata, Nani, Valencia and Young.
Forwards: Hernandez, Rooney, and Welbeck.
Manchester United have won one of their previous five league games at Goodison; drawing two and losing two.
However the Red Devils had won 21 of 26 league games against Everton although out of the last eight they have only won three against the Toffees.
Roberto Martinez’s side will look to secure a first league double over Man. United since the 1969/70 season.
Wayne Rooney has scored just four goals from 15 Premier League games against his boyhood club since arriving at Old Trafford.
Romelu Lukaku has only played one home league game against United; scoring a hat-trick in a remarkable final game for Sir Alex Ferguson on the last day of the 2012/13 season.
The assist from Leighton Baines on Wednesday gave him the joint-most assists in the Premier League for the Blues, alongside Mikel Arteta with 36 assists.
With 33 points, David Moyes’ side have taken more points away from home than any other team in the Premier League this season.
Juan Mata had two assists and no goals in his final 13 league games for Chelsea earlier in the season, but the move up north seems to have done the trick with four assists and three goals in 11 Premier League games for the Red Devils
Wayne Rooney has scored more goals in the Premier League on Sundays than any other player with 52 goals.
Fellow striker Javier Hernandez is the only player in Premier League history to score 10 or more goals away from home coming on as a substitute.
The Palace defeat doesn’t mean Champions League football next season is impossible, it’s out of our hands but not impossible. League position must be put to one side for the remainder of the season now as Arsenal are in control. The priority now has to be winning the final fixtures in the season because if the Blues take maximum points then the Gunners must also accumulate full points to secure their place in the most prestigious club competition. Wednesday also has to be put out of every Everton mind because at the end of the day Palace played extremely well. The sole focus has to be victory tomorrow afternoon whatever happens in the FA Cup Final dress rehearsal preceding the 4.10pm (BST) kick-off.