Duncan Fergson’s managerial debut couldn’t have gone much better. There were intelligent tactical choices, renewed energy and vigor among the squad, celebratory lifting of ball boys, and most importantly, three points against a very talented Chelsea.
Now the challenge is to replicate that performance against a Manchester United team that’s on the rise, coming off a derby victory over Manchester City last weekend. The Red Devils are unbeaten in their last five in Premier League play, vaulting them to fifth in the table.
Tactics and Formation
Ferguson and Everton found success by sitting deep and forcing Chelsea to work very hard to create quality chances, then springing on the counterattack. Chelsea’s somewhat suspect backline also committed a few miserable errors that the Toffees were allowed to capitalize on.
In reality, there are a lot of similarities between Chelsea and Manchester United. Both teams have speedy, dangerous attacking fronts, midfields that lack a true creative force (though at least Chelsea’s can regularly win the ball), and defenses that are prone to making one or two big mistakes throughout the course of a match.
So it seems logical to assume that Big Dunc will roll out on Sunday with a similar lineup and similar tactics to what he put on display against Chelsea last week to great success. That said, injury to a couple of last weekend’s starters will limit his options, and force Ferguson into a couple of changes.
Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)
Jordan Pickford - 10/10
Lucas Digne - 10/10
Michael Keane - 7/10
After a rough return to the lineup against Liverpool, Keane was perfectly serviceable against Chelsea. I was a little concerned after injury to Yerry Mina forced him into the lineup, but he did well limiting Chelsea’s chances despite a large possession discrepancy.
That said, given United’s speed, I’d prefer to see Mina in the lineup over Keane for this one. But with Mina still working back from injury, I’d guess Keane gets the start again.
Mason Holgate - 8/10
Djibril Sidibe - 10/10
Tom Davies - 10/10
Davies was left out of the starting XI last weekend in place of Morgan Schneiderlin, who had a typically quiet but effective match. In a vacuum, I would have expected the Frenchman to start again, but he’s picked up an injury that will keep him out this week, so Davies is a sure starter.
Gylfi Sigurdsson - 10/10
Like Schneiderlin, Sigurdsson wasn’t all that eye-catching, but he had a job and did it well enough to get Everton all three points. With Schneiderlin hurt, he’s certain to get another start in this unfamiliar, deep-lying position.
Alex Iwobi - 10/10
Richarlison - 10/10
Dominic Calvert-Lewin - 10/10
Moise Kean - 5/10
With Theo Walcott also out injured, Ferguson will have to make a change to the attacking four that served him so well against Chelsea. My best guess is that Richarlison moves into right midfield, with Moise Kean replacing him up top.
That said, Big Dunc could also go with Cenk Tosun alongside Dom at striker, or bring Bernard in to start on one of the wings with Richarlison staying up top. None of those outcomes would be particularly surprising
The late revelation of injury to Walcott and Schneiderlin certainly takes a little wind out of Everton’s sails heading into a match that, based on the Toffees’ performance last week, could be a winnable one.
Can an already injury-stricken team dig even deeper into its depth chart to find the right combination to snatch points at Old Trafford? If it happens, the legend of Duncan Ferguson will only grow more.