Match Preview: Everton vs Manchester United

At the press conference on Friday, Louis van Gaal rued the slow start of the season as a factor in not contending for the title. Last week United officially gave up their small chance for silverware this seasons with 1:0 loss to Chelsea.

However the encouraging display is something that everyone should be excited about as the reds laid a marker for next season. Until the end of this one, the next stern test awaits – Everton away.

The Toffees have improved lately. After the Europe exit, Roberto Martinez’s side has found form, being unbeaten in the last five games, winning four. They have also not conceded in five of their last home games. This has been a nice turnaround in their relatively poor season. After impressing last campaign much more was expected from Everton than lavishing in mid-table.

Atrocious defending and misfiring Romelu Lukaku are certainly some of the reasons. However a home game to United is always a special occasion with many Red fans not very fond of the fixture whatsoever. Through the years the games between the two sides has provided a lot of memories, One stands in mind in particular – last year, when the defeat at Goodison Park was the final nail in the coffin for David Moyes.

This time around, United will arrive at Everton with bigger confidence and swagger. Van Gaal’s team is the in-form team in the league, playing great football and defeating rivals City and Liverpool. Even champions-elect, Chelsea were lucky to escape with a win from their own ground last Sunday. These performances have provided optimism for Red fans that the team can once more challenge for football’s biggest prizes next season. However, the job – to qualify for CL is yet to be finished. The final run-in starts at Goodison.

Injury News

James Mccarthy and Leon Osman are subject to a late fitness test. Pienaar is going to miss out with muscle fatigue. Oviedo, Hibbert and Darren Gibson are all injured, with the former Manchester United player missing for the rest of the season.

It is a deja-vu scenario for United with no-less than six injured players. Januzaj and Rafael sustained injuries in playing for U21’s on Monday. Jones, Rojo and Carrick are expected to return next week. Blind is a subject to a late fitness test and expected to play.

Robin van Persie and Jonny Evans both returned to action on Monday, but still lack any real match fitness.

Predicted Line-ups:

Everton (4-2-3-1) – Howard; Coleman, Stones, Jagielka, Baines; Barry, Mccarthy; Lennon, Barkley, Mirallas; Lukaku

Man. United (4-5-1) – DDG, Valencia, Smalling, McNair, Shaw; Feillani, Herrera, Di Maria, Mata, Young; Rooney

Last Meeting: Manchester United- Everton 2:1

The last time the two sides met was 5th October.  A game that will mostly be remembered with De Gea’s miraculous saves – A Baines penalty and last minute wonders to keep it 2:1.  Di Maria had opened the scoring in the first half with Naismith equalising shortly after the interval. A rare Falcao goal gave United the win.

It will be an interesting game between two in-form teams with Everton wanting to get a revenge for that narrow loss in October.

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