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Everton at Manchester United - Match Preview | Toffees look to make it five unbeaten at Old Trafford

Sean Dyche’s side will look to maintain momentum after snatching a point against Spurs last time out

Manchester United v Everton: Emirates FA Cup Third Round Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

Everton make the short but tricky trip to Old Trafford looking to steal a march on their relegation rivals when they face Manchester United in Saturday’s early kick-off.

The Toffees are only out of the relegation zone on goal difference but can move level with 12th-placed Crystal Palace with win before the rest of the sides at the bottom kick-off at 3pm BST.

That’s a tall order of course, Everton only have one win at Old Trafford this century and take on a United side unbeaten at home in 24 games in all competitions.

But the very fact Evertonians have even a slither of hope is testament to the job Sean Dyche has done.

Everton FC v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

The Toffees were in a death spiral when Dyche arrived, but the former Burnley boss has given a once brittle side some backbone. It is all the more impressive when you consider they have played Arsenal twice, Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea and a resurgent Aston Villa in his first nine games.

The team is now not too dissimilar to the sides under David Moyes. They may lack quality in key areas but the opposition know they will be in for a tough match.

You could not say that about Everton three months ago. They have given themselves a chance.

The opposition

Manchester United v Brentford FC - Premier League Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

Have Manchester United finally found Sir Alex Ferguson’s true heir?

After a decade of trying Erik ten Hag finally looks like the man capable of filling the legendary Scots shoes.

There is no title yet of course, but he has rebuilt a squad that looked fractured at times last season. The EFL Cup has been won, they are through to the Europa League quarter-finals, an FA Cup semi-final awaits and a top-four place is very much on.

The way Ten Hag handled Cristiano Ronaldo, who he saw as a disruptive influence and bombed out as quickly as possible, also deserves credit.

The bedrock of their revival has been home form, where they have lost just twice all season and not since September. However, that extraordinary 7-0 pummelling at Anfield and the recent 2-0 defeat by Newcastle suggests there are a few chinks in the armour. Everton also put up a spirited performance at the same venue in the FA Cup in January, with the eventual 3-1 scoreline harsh on the Toffees.

Previous meeting

Man Utd 3-1 Everton (FA Cup third round), 6 January 2023

Manchester United v Everton: Emirates FA Cup Third Round Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

Everton bowed out of the FA Cup at the third round stage after defeat at Old Trafford on a chilly January night. Conor Coady cancelled out Antony’s early strike before putting through his own net at the start of the second half. Everton then had an equaliser ruled out for a very marginal offside, before Marcus Rashford sealed the win with a penalty in stoppage-time.

Team news

Everton Training Session Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

Everton will be without Abdolaye Doucoure as he begins a three-match ban for his sending off against Tottenham on Monday.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin was pictured in training with his team-mates as he edges closer to full fitness, but Sean Dyche would not put a date on his return.

Ruben Vinagre is back training after an Achilles issue but is unlikely to feature, while Andros Townsend is still a while away from a comeback after over a year out with a knee problem.

What they said

Everton manager Sean Dyche: “There’s a certain way that I like the players and staff to work so I would not say the ups and downs are too amazing. Instead, it’s about maintaining a nice consistency in how we operate.

“The mood in the camp can be affected, but we have a consistent way of working throughout the ups and downs of what we do. But the mood is obviously impacted by the ups and downs of what we do… the feel-good factor of performing well.

“Performances have generally been good, we have scratched away in some games and played well in others. We have certainly shown a clear-minded spirit in our performances.

“I am pleased with that. Because it’s an important factor in a Premier League season. All these things add to something different. Keano’s goal adds a different feel to what was a strong performance [vs Tottenham].”

Manchester United v Brentford FC - Premier League Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images

Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag: “The team is really fit from Everton. Their physical output is outstanding so we have to match that. We have to do it every game and that needs preparation and it has to be the standard when you are playing for Manchester United. So this is the demand, no ifs or buts, you have to do it and that is the responsibility. That a player has to deliver when you are playing for Manchester United. So you have to be accountable.”

Final word

Anything from this match is a bonus given United’s imperious home record and Everton’s dreadful away form. But results elsewhere could prove just as important this weekend. If the Toffees are still out of the drop zone by Sunday evening, then I will be happy.