Everton face Manchester United on Saturday, looking to continue their recent good run over the Red Devils. The Blues have won their last three home matches against United, and go in to the encounter having made a strong start to the season despite the difficult fixture list.
This is also a repeat of one of the few bright sparks of the last campaign, where a 3-0 victory gave some hope that the dire performances were finally over.
Things were going brilliantly for Louis van Gaal just two weeks ago. His team were top of the league, and hadn't even started playing well yet. However, a 3-0 defeat to Arsenal at the Emirates has left them reeling, and the international break may have actually come at a good time to avoid a further slip in form.
Wayne Rooney, Bastian Schweinsteiger, and Michael Carrick are all fitness doubts for the clash, which will give a boost to the Blues. Questions over the form of Memphis Depay, and Luke Shaw's recent injury will also cause trouble for Man Utd.
All of a sudden looking far from title challengers, this could be the perfect time for Everton to play United. Although, Roberto Martinez will have to be wary of a backlash from the Red Devils.
John Stones, Seamus Coleman, Tom Cleverley, and Steven Pienaar could all return from injury for the encounter, with Kevin Mirallas also available to play after serving his suspension.
With all of these players fit again, Martinez almost has a full squad to choose from. However, Leighton Baines, Mohamed Besic, and Tony Hibbert are all still out. The form of Brendan Galloway and the rest of the team means that the trio won't be missed too much though.
The Final Word
On Saturday, we may see a return to the counter-attacking style which brought such success against United last time round. A front three of Romelu Lukaku, Steven Naismith, and either Gerard Deulofeu or Aaron Lennon could feature in front of a midfield trio of Ross Barkley, James McCarthy, and Gareth Barry.
Although this is a similar line-up to many this season, the midfielders may be asked to sit deeper and rely on Barkley to lead attacks against a back-tracking United defence. After an international break in which the 21-year-old has starred for his country, fans will be hoping that he can continue that form on to the domestic scene.
Everton expected line-up: Howard, Coleman, Galloway, Stones, Jagielka, Barry, McCarthy, Barkley, Naismith, Lennon, Lukaku.