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Match Preview: Everton vs. Manchester United

Manchester United face Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday. Here's what to watch out for.

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Manchester United return to action away at Everton on Sunday, hopefully still stinging from the humiliation suffered at the hands of Arsenal before the international break. That was quite possibly the lamentable, piteous display of the Louis van Gaal era to date, and one that brought the Reds back down to earth with a bump after a four-game winning streak.

The bad news is that Roberto Martínez seems to have successfully guided Everton through the storm of last season, and they've emerged looking rather good. They've only lost once in the Premier League all season, and find themselves only three points adrift of United. They've already beaten Chelsea and held Liverpool at Goodison Park, a ground on which United have only won once since 2007.

Team news

The even worse news is that Everton will be without the 'Basingstoke Xavi,' Tom Cleverley, who like Leighton Baines, Tony Hibbert and Steven Pienaar, is out injured. Future Chelsea centre-back John Stones faces a late fitness test, as does midfield anchorman Muhamed Bešić.

For United, Luke Shaw is the only certain absentee, though there are plenty of players with question marks over their heads. Paddy McNair, Michael Carrick, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Wayne Rooney all returned from international duty with injuries, while Louis van Gaal's irrational dislike of Marcos Rojo should put paid to his chances of making a rare appearance.


Everton's move away from David Moyes' organised, counter-attacking football under Martínez has been well documented. Indeed, the Spaniard has preferred a shorter passing game, though so far this season they haven't dominated with the ball quite as much as you'd expect. They've averaged just over 50% possession, which is pretty par for the Premier League course.

However, as Everton are discovering, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Martínez may well becoming increasingly flexible in his style, supported by his recent declaration that "you have to be adaptable and be able to, from week to week, master different ways of playing."

So, while Everton's default setting is to hold onto the ball and press high up the field, don't be surprised to see them looking to hit United on the counter-attack. They certainly have the pace to do so, with former Barcelona winger Gerard Deulofeu and the bizarrely effective Steven Naismith looking to deliver crosses into the box for their excellent striker Romelu Lukaku.

One-time United target Séamus Coleman could well cause problems for United's left side, and it'll be interesting to see if Memphis is dropped after shirking such defensive duties against Arsenal's Héctor Bellerín. Finally, watch out for Ross Barkley, who's like Wayne Rooney if Wayne Rooney was young, good, exciting and a midfielder. He's the oil in the Everton cogs, and United will have to deny him the space to work his magic in the final third.

Predicted lineups

Everton (4-2-3-1): Tim Howard; Brendan Galloway, Phil Jagielka, John Stones, Séamus Coleman; Gareth Barry, James McCarthy; Steven Naismith, Ross Barkley, Gerard Deulofeu; Romelu Lukaku.

Manchester United (4-2-3-1): David de Gea; Matteo Darmian, Daley Blind, Chris Smalling, Antonio Valencia; Morgan Schneiderlin, Bastian Schweinsteiger; Memphis Depay, Ander Herrera, Juan Mata; Anthony Martial.