Rafa Benitez replaced the injured Alex Iwobi with Anthony Gordon in the only change to the Everton lineup, while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer welcomes back fullbacks Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw, and also brought in Anthony Martial and Edinson Cavani for Paul Pogba and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Roared on by the home fans, Manchester United started hot as they passed the ball around with flair and looked to probe both of Everton’s flanks. However Benitez’s men held firm for the most part with the best chance early on falling to Cavani, but Jordan Pickford did brilliantly to parry away his header for a corner.
The Blues had their own chances too mostly on the break and from setpieces, but the Red Devil’s defence and David De Gea in goal were up to the task too. However, they were hit by a gut punch just a couple of minutes before the break when Bruno Fernandes found Martial on the left, and his fierce shot took a slight deflection past Pickford to make it 1-0.
United started the second half in much the same way they had the first, holding the ball and spreading it around trying to find weaknesses in the Blues backline. The noise level then ramped up a few notches as Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho came on and immediately got involved.
However, it was against the run of play that the Blues found their equalizer. A corner to United was cleared to Demarai Gray on the left, who set off on a tenacious run and then found Doucoure making a lung-bursting run next to him. The Frenchman showed great composure to then find Townsend in all kinds of space, the veteran neatly tucked it past De Gea at the far post to make it 1-1.
Both sides had chances late on, none better than Everton however. Tom Davies, having just come on for Anthony Gordon, was in space from a poorly-cleared corner on the right and instead of shooting with the goal at his mercy, chose to pass to Mina to tuck in, but the big defender was just a yard or so offside.
Yerry Mina elder statesman? Allan was taking a bite out of Anthony Gordon for a missed defensive assignment, and it was heartening to see Mina come over and calm the Brazilian down.
Jordan Pickford often gets stick for not communicating enough with his defenders, but that is simply not true, he is always talking to them during games.
Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure again had a good game as a midfield pair, snapping into tackles, making interceptions and starting counters all over the pitch.
Rafa’s two banks of four strategy for this game was the right idea despite the result. It took away what United craved (space) and allowed the Blues to counter at pace too.
We keep giving props to the same players every week, and with good reason too. Demarai Gray was once again full of running and what a signing he has been for the Blues!