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Koeman seeks response to Anfield disappointment

Everton were desperately below-par in the Merseyside derby, they cannot afford to be again if they are to avoid another defeat at Old Trafford

Everton v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Well that was inevitable wasn’t it?

There’s not much else that can be said about yet another gutless surrender at Anfield. Just cut and paste pretty much any match report from the past 18 years and you’ll have an accurate description of what happened on Saturday.

Big name and apparently big game players failed to turn up while a collective failure to defend properly resulted in three easily avoidable goals.

Ross Barkley was once again the victim of some unfair criticism despite a below-par display.

Barkley is often the centre of attention in the post-match analysis and given the increased exposure of this game, was perhaps an easy target for those writers who haven’t watched Everton regularly this campaign but pitched up at Anfield seeking stories.

Liverpool v Everton - Premier League Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Romelu Lukaku meanwhile was largely anonymous and certainly gave plenty of ammo to those who question his ability to compete with the very best.

If he wants to move on to bigger and better things then he needs to show potential suitors that he can turn it on in important matches.

His showing at Anfield may raise a few doubts and could even help Everton in their quest to hold on to the 23-year-old.

It all means Everton’s hunt for a win at Anfield will go into a 19th season, the only solace being it wasn’t as humiliating as it was back in April.

Mitigation can be found in a lengthy injury list and the presence of five players aged 23 or under.

That perhaps explains why Ronald Koeman wasn’t too harsh on his players after the game, they will take a lot from this chastening experience.

The good news is that they have just three days to dwell on that result, the bad news is that that game is at Old Trafford, a ground where they have won just twice in 25 years.

The opposition

It’s been a strange old season for Manchester United.

Jose Mourinho’s side are currently on 19-game unbeaten run in the Premier League, but it’s not been anywhere near enough to launch at title challenge.

Instead the Red Devils have found themselves either in fifth or sixth place, with even a top four challenge looking a big ask.

They are currently in fifth, five points behind fourth-placed Man City having played a game more.

Manchester United v Southampton - EFL Cup Final Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

Though their unbeaten run is impressive there have simply been too many draws, particularly a home, for Mourinho’s liking.

The Red Devils have drawn eight of their 15 league games at Old Trafford this season, the highest number since 1981.

The most likely route to the Champions League comes in the form of the Europa League, with United facing Anderlecht in the quarter-final later this month.

Should United continue to stutter in the league Mourinho may well sacrifice Premier League points for European glory, though that won’t be the case on Tuesday.

The undoubted star for the Red Devils this season has been the one and only Zlatan.

I’m sure I am not the only one to have had initial doubts about his ability to still cut it in the Premier League but he has proved us all wrong.

He has 26 goals in all competitions, with his only blip being a three-match ban for stamping on Bournemouth’s Tyrone Mings last month.

It’s ok though, because he’s available again on Tuesday.

Cheers.

While Ibrahimovic has been an undoubted hit, Paul Pogba has been more of a miss.

His world record transfer fee meant expectations were always going to be high, but the former Juventus man has struggled to replicate the sort of form that persuaded Man United to part with so much cash next summer.

He clearly needs a game against Everton to rediscover his form....

As I alluded to Man United is not a fixture Everton generally enjoy, particularly away from home.

United have beaten Everton 33 times in the Premier League, the second-highest total for one club beating another (United have beaten Aston Villa 34 times).

Everton have won just twice at Old Trafford in the Premier League era, in 1992 and in 2013, when Bryan Oviedo famously grabbed a late winner.

That said, Man United’s relative troubles at home mean Everton head across the M62 with more expectation than they did crossing Stanley Park on Saturday.

Team news

Everton will again be without Morgan Schneiderlin as the former Man United midfielder recovers from a groin injury.

Aaron Lennon and James McCarthy have also been ruled out of contention by Ronald Koeman.

Manchester United welcome back Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ander Herrera from suspension.

Paul Pogba has missed United’s last two matches with hamstring injury and will continue to be assessed.

Final word

Everton’s weekend defeat was their third loss away at a top six side from four games so far this season, highlighting the yawning chasm they still have to cross if they are to compete with the division’s elite.

Tuesday night will also represent a tough test, even if Man Utd have shown signs of vulnerability this campaign.

Draws have been the by-word at Old Trafford this season so if Everton can bring United’s season total to eight, then that would represent an decent response to their Anfield disappointment.

Predicted starting XI: Robles, Holgate, Williams, Jagielka, Baines, Barry, Davies, Gueye, Mirallas, Barkley, Lukaku.