Manchester United will be hopeful of taking the points when Everton visit Old Trafford on Sunday (12:00 BST, live on BT Sport).
United come into the match on the back of a relatively uncomfortable 2-1 home victory over West Ham last weekend. They are seventh in the developing Premier League table with eight points from two wins, two draws and two defeats.
Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie (pictured) fired Man Utd into an early two-goal lead last weekend, but West Ham pulled one back before half-time and then put them under heavy pressure following Rooney’s dismissal on the hour mark. Louis van Gaal’s side were, however, able to hold firm, partly due to a strong performance from young debutant Patrick McNair.
United certainly looked more defensively secure than they had in their 5-3 defeat away to Leicester City the week previous. With Luke Shaw fit to make his league debut at left-back, Marcos Rojo – another summer signing – lining up alongside McNair in the centre of the defence and Rafael performing energetically at right-back, United were much more solid.
Van Gaal received strong backing in the transfer market this summer. In addition to Shaw and Rojo, the club also completed permanent deals for Ander Herrera, Angel Di Maria and Daley Blind, and brought in Radamel Falcao Garcia on loan. It will take a little time for the new arrivals to settle but the quality of the United squad has clearly been improved.
Van Gaal has a bit of an injury crisis on his hands, with Ander Herrera (rib), Chris Smalling (thigh), Johnny Evans (ankle) and Michael Carrick (ankle) all definitely out of this match, while Ashley Young (groin) and Phil Jones (hamstring) are highly doubtful. Rooney is suspended for three matches, but Tyler Blackett returns from his own suspension.
Everton scored a late equaliser in last weekend’s Merseyside derby against Liverpool and followed that with 1-1 draw away to Kuban Krasnodar in the Europa League on Thursday. They are 15th in the table with six points from one win, three draws and two defeats.
Phil Jagielka produced a superb strike from outside the area to level the scores against Liverpool on Saturday at the end of a relatively uneventful encounter by derby standards. Neither team attacked with particular incision and it was telling that Liverpool’s goal also came from outside the area, courtesy of a well-placed free-kick from Steven Gerrard.
Roberto Martinez’s side were happy with the point, even though it represented the fifth time in six Premier League outings that they had failed to take all three points. The Spanish coach elected to field three central midfielders, which had the effect of blunting some of Everton’s attacking potency but did, at the same time, provide greater defensive stability.
Everton had the third-best defensive record in the league last season, but they had conceded two or more goals in four of their five league matches prior to last weekend’s derby. While they had looked bright in attack, scoring two or more goals in every one of their five previous matches, Martinez obviously felt the time was right to seek greater balance.
Martinez will be without the injured Kevin Mirallas (hamstring) and Ross Barkley (knee) for this trip to Old Trafford, while James McCarthy, Seamus Coleman and Sylvain Distin are all carrying knocks that could see them miss out. Steven Pienaar (groin) is also doubtful.
Man Utd v Everton Betting Tips
Everton recorded their first league victory at Old Trafford in 21 years by winning 1-0 in last season’s equivalent fixture. They were also successful by a 2-0 scoreline in the reverse fixture at Goodison Park. The two teams have been evenly matched across their last 10 meetings at all venues, each recording four victories, while two matches ended in draws.
United come into this match well-rested following a week of inactivity that has given Van Gaal plenty of time on the training ground to work on his side’s weaknesses. The likes of Di Maria, Falcao, Van Persie and Juan Mata will be looking forward to the opportunity to take on an Everton defence that has failed to impress this season.
Everton travelled all the way to Russia for their Europa League match, so it is likely that one or two of their players will not be in peak condition for the trip to Old Trafford. They have so far been unable to strike the right balance between attack and defence and although it is sure to be an entertaining encounter, we believe United are the most likely victors.
- Back Man Utd to win on the ‘match result and both teams to score market’ @ best odds of 21/10 with Coral.
- Van Persie missed both of United’s league defeats to Everton last season, but scored in their win over the Toffees at Old Trafford during the 2012-13 season and in Arsenal’s home victory over Everton the season before. He comes into Sunday’s match on the back of a goal in the win over West Ham. Back Robin Van Persie to score at anytime @ 6/5 with Bet365.