Everton have struggled mightily against the top six in recent years, and manager Marco Silva may have correctly diagnosed that the issue starts in the players’ minds. Since 2008-09, under a range of managers, the Blues have only picked up five wins against the ‘Sky Six’ - Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool.
Even worse, the only away win to count on in that time was an away win at Old Trafford with former Toffees boss David Moyes in charge of United. That too was the only win against Man Utd in 26 years.
Marco Silva has said since he came in at Everton that he would play attacking football no matter who the opponent, and lived up to his word in the away game at Arsenal with the Blues pressing high and creating chances.
It’s still early days in his tenure, but we can see he appears to have the smarts to design a good gameplan and do what he can to beat other teams. Silva though has asked for his side to play smarter as well.
“To be able to win one game at Old Trafford or at one of the other strong sides in the country you have to be strong as a squad.
“You have to have the personality and the character to not fear and to be yourselves.
“The players have known since the first day, that this is our way, it is our ambition as a club [to win every game]. If you are working in a club like Everton, with a great history, you have to think and prepare in this way.
“We know Manchester United could obligate us to do different things because they are a very good team, with a very good manager, and we will see what the result is afterwards. But our objective will be the same [as always] – to prepare for the game and have a plan to win the match.”
Over the years we have seen Everton get carried away by the occasion when playing in the limelight or against tougher opponents, and play with the hearts and not their minds. Nowhere has this been more visible than during the various editions of the Merseyside Derby where the Blues disciplinary record is pretty appalling.
While United remain a side loaded with world-class talent, there is no better time to play them when they are as disjointed as they are with one win in six games. However, the Blues will have to be ready to face a cornered beast instead too, roared on by the home crowd at the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ tomorrow.