After dropping a couple of points last time out, Manchester United will seek to get back to winning ways when they host an under-performing Everton side at Old Trafford on Sunday (16:00 BST, live on Sky Sports).
United began the Premier League campaign with three convincing victories over West Ham, Swansea and Leicester City, scoring 10 goals without conceding, but were pegged back for the first time at Stoke last weekend.
In an open match, Jose Mourinho’s side created enough chances to have reasonably taken all three points but eventually had to settle for just one. Man Utd quickly equalised through Marcus Rashford after Stoke had taken a late first-half lead, only for their hosts to repeat the trick when United themselves went ahead through Romelu Lukaku just before the hour mark.
Stoke proved to be more persistent opponents than those in United’s previous matches and things will now get tougher for them with a run of potentially tricky fixtures, including trips to Liverpool and Chelsea, through into early November.
So far the signs have been promising: they look potent in attack and relatively solid defensively. They added quality in key areas over the summer and look to have a squad capable of handling multiple competitions. But it is still too early to say whether United will be genuine title challengers.
The arrival of Lukaku has certainly provided them with a powerful focal point for an attack that is a lot more dynamic than it was last season. The Belgian international added to his tally of four goals in four Premier League matches with another in United’s 3-0 win at home to Basel in their Champions League group-stage opener on Tuesday, and he already looks very much at home in a United shirt.
Lukaku was, of course, Everton’s main man prior to his summer move to Old Trafford. The 24-year-old scored 68 goals in 133 appearances for the Toffees, including a career-best 25 last season. Replacing him was always going to be very difficult but even just five weeks into the campaign, their failure to bring in someone capable of at least replicating the majority of his attributes already looks like it could cost them.
Indeed, for a side who spent in the region of £140 million on new recruits during the summer transfer window, Everton have looked remarkably stodgy to date. They have struggled to progress the ball forward through midfield and have lacked pace or intricacy in attack. It has all been a bit one-paced and uninspiring.
Ronald Koeman’s side fell to a limp 0-3 defeat at home to Tottenham Hotspur last weekend, a week after their similarly uncompetitive 0-2 loss away to Chelsea. The fixture list has certainly not been kind to them and they will hope to pick up more points once easier matches arrive, but it is still difficult to draw many positives from their early performances.
Neither does their Europa League campaign look likely to provide an uplift in spirits. A mixed Everton team were taken apart by Atalanta in a 0-3 defeat in Italy on Thursday. Koeman’s side managed just two shots on target over the course of the 90 minutes, and he admitted afterwards that he would have to take some of the blame for the defeat.
Koeman had implored his players to make up for their performance against Tottenham with a more committed showing against Atalanta but there were problems in terms of both aggression and organisation during a first half in which they conceded all three goals. Everton will have to be much better if they are to get anything at Old Trafford.
United come into the game in better form, with an extra couple of days rest behind them and with a dynamic approach that is likely to prove too much for a rather pedestrian Everton side. They can be expected to break a run of two consecutive draws at home to the Toffees by taking all three points on Sunday.
Our Preview’s Man Utd v Everton Betting Tips
Here are the betting tips selections for this preview, picking the best betting options available with our top rated UK bookies.
- Back Manchester United to win to nil @ 21/20 with William Hill.
- Bet on Romelu Lukaku to score at anytime @ best odds of 5/6 with Unibet.
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