Everything that you need to know ahead of Saturday’s match:
(1) On Tuesday night, Manchester United ruthlessly punished shorthanded Southampton in a 9-0 rout. An early red card killed off whatever resistance the visitors might have been able to muster — with Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s 18th minute goal officially opening the floodgates. Marcus Rashford, Edinson Cavani, Anthony Martial, Scott McTominay, Bruno Fernandes, and Daniel James all joined him on the scoresheet before the referee mercifully blew the full-time whistle.
(2) Most importantly, this result ballooned Manchester United’s goal difference to +19. In what’s shaping up to be a close Premier League title race, this could be important come season’s end.
Manchester United GD— Andy Glockner (@AndyGlockner) February 2, 2021
First 21 matches: +10
(3) Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on the ankle injury that Edinson Cavani picked up against Southampton:
Edinson got a bad tackle on his ankle, so he had to come off. He probably would have loved to be out there scoring goals, but there was no point in taking any risks. Hopefully, it won’t swell up too much.
(4) Paul Pogba, voted Manchester United’s player of the month for January, was rested against Southampton and should be back in contention for a spot in the lineup this weekend:
Solskjær on Pogba: "It's a little bit of rotation and accumulation of games. I think Paul played nine games in a month, which is quite a lot for a big lad - the squad is strong anyway. I felt it's a chance to give him a rest. If we need to, he's ready to come on." #mulive [mutv]— utdreport (@utdreport) February 2, 2021
(5) Everton continue to hang around the periphery of the Premier League’s top four race. After a blistering start to the season that lifted the Toffees to the top of the table, it’s all been rather inconsistent since. In mid-December, they reeled off consecutive wins over Chelsea, Leicester City, and Arsenal — but followed that impressive run up with defeats to West Ham and Newcastle in recent weeks.
(6) But, on Wednesday, Everton took an important step in getting their season back on track with a 2-1 win at Leeds United. Gylfi Sigurdsson opened the scoring and Dominic Calvert-Lewin added another shortly before halftime to seal the victory. Everton have now won four straight away matches ahead of this weekend’s trip to Old Trafford.
(7) On deadline day, Carlo Ancelotti nabbed Joshua King on a short-term deal from Bournemouth. That brings in another proven Premier League goalscorer to take some of the attacking pressure off of Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison. King is not having the most prolific of seasons — no goals in the Championship — but Everton hope that he can be coaxed back to his best at Goodison Park.
(8) Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s winner against Leeds snapped a scoreless streak that dates back to Christmas. He had noticeably cooled off after scoring seven goals in the first five matches of the season, but continued to refine his all-around skills during that barren run — particularly in holding up the ball and bringing teammates into the attack. Now, with Joshua King presumably playing alongside him, DCL has an outlet for his flick ons.
(9) Ancelotti is still in search of his best defensive setup. Regular fullbacks Seamus Coleman and Lucas Digne missed time earlier this season with injuries, which opened the door for Mason Holgate and Ben Godfrey to play alongside center backs Michael Keane and Yerry Mina. Now that Coleman and Digne are back, though, the Everton boss has been chopping and changing from match to match.
Ben Godfrey looking very assured alongside Yerry Mina in #efc defence, tackling, clearing, one busy run into midfield, plus flick for DCL goal. £25m from Norwich, only his 12th PL game for Everton, already looking good business. #LEEEVE— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) February 3, 2021
(10) Jordan Pickford missed the Leeds match with a rib injury, handing a rare start to Robin Olsen between the sticks. And the 31-year-old Swede made the most of it. In particular, his triple save in the second half left Leeds bewildered at how he kept that flurry of chances out. On the evidence of Wednesday night, Everton won’t mind at all if Pickford takes a little while to fully recuperate.
(11) With Allan still out — though he might be nearing a return — Ancelotti has had to lean on the boundless energy of Abdoulaye Doucoure in midfield. His commitment to cover ground and harass the opposition frees up Richarlison on the left and Alex Iwobi on the right to push forward and join the attack. James Rodriguez, who was rested against Leeds, will likely be recalled for the trip to Old Trafford.