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Everton at Sheffield United match preview - Toffees look to bounce back from cup disappointment

They need to get the Man Utd game out of their system, and quick

Sheffield United v Everton FC - Premier League Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

I hope you are all having a very merry Christmas - despite Everton’s best efforts at ruining it.

Yes, our cup hopes were once again dashed after a frustratingly flat performance against Manchester United.

It can be argued that match-winner Edinson Cavani should have been sent off for clash with Yerry Mina, while Bruno Fernandes cynically took Richarlison out of the game by nudging him into the path of Eric Bailly. But that would distract from the reality that United were the better team and deserved to go through.

It was squad depth that told in the end. United could make nine changes and still put out a strong side, with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial coming off the bench. Everton went full strength but had a paucity of options in reserve and offered little once Richarlison had been forced off.

Everton v Manchester United - Carabao Cup Quarter Final Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

After three tough games in a week and with injuries mounting this looked like one match too far, but it would be harsh to criticise the players too much given their achievements this campaign.

Carlo Ancelotti has achieved a lot in his first year, assembling a starting XI that can compete with anyone. Sadly there is not much in reserve, so the Italian needs to be given more time to build up the squad we need.

It all means us fans just have to keep on being patient and take heart in the fact things seem to be slowly going in the right direction.

The opposition

Second season syndrome has crippled Sheffield United this season. The Blades spent much of last campaign pushing for a European place before fading during the restart to still finish a credible ninth - their highest league finish since 1992.

However, it has all gone wrong this year.

Chris Wilder’s side have taken just two points from their first 14 games to sit rock bottom - no team has avoided relegation with fewer than eight points at this stage.

Brighton & Hove Albion v Sheffield United - Premier League Photo by Glyn Kirk - Pool/Getty Images

They are also just the third top-flight side to be winless at Christmas after Burnley in 1889-90 and Bolton in 1902-03.

Goals have been the main problem, they are the joint-lowest scorers with just eight so far. They are also looking to avoid equalling a club with record by losing a fifth successive home game.

Last meeting

Sheffield United 0-1 Everton July 20, 2020

Richarlison’s second half header decide the last encounter between the sides back in July - the Toffees’ final win of the season.

Sheffield United v Everton FC - Premier League Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

Team news

Richarlison is doubtful after he was forced off with rib and head injuries against Manchester United.

James Rodriguez is also expected to miss out as he has not yet returned to full training.

Fabian Delph and Lucas Digne are still a few week’s away from a return.

Everton v Manchester United - Carabao Cup - Quarter Final - Goodison Park Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images

Recent form

Everton

Man Utd (H - Carabao Cup) Lost 2-0

Arsenal (H) Won 2-1

Leicester (A) Won 2-0

Chelsea (H) Won 1-0

Burnley (H) Drew 1-1

Sheffield United

Brighton (A) Drew 1-1

Man Utd (H) Lost 3-2

Southampton (A) Lost 3-0

Leicester (H) Lost 2-1

West Brom (A) Lost 1-0

Final word

A team that has not yet won all season taking on Everton, we’ve seen this all before.

Form dictates that Everton should win, but their weary performance against Man United suggests the schedule is starting to bite.

With Manchester City just 48 hours later too there may be an element of rotation by Ancelotti.

Therefore I would happily take a scrappy 1-0 to maintain our upward momentum.