Preview: Everton v Manchester United


I expect the game against Everton to be a real tough physical encounter – no quarter given, no quarter asked.

David Moyes has worked wonders with Everton this season considering they have had an injury crisis on a par with us, with long term injuries to Arteta and Jagielka. I think Arteta is pure quality and has been a huge loss for Everton. Before he suffered his long term injury I wouldn’t have minded a cheeky transfer bid as a long term Paul Scholes replacement.  The fact Everton are competing with a smaller squad & less financial backing than United speaks volumes about David Moyes as a manager. You probably can tell I am a fan.

One of the many great days of being a United fan occurred nearly three years ago. We were deep into April and the title race was reaching its climax, before kickoff we were three points clear of second placed Chelsea. We were playing Everton at Goodison while Chelsea were playing Bolton at Stamford Bridge.

During the first half Everton were clearly the better team and went in at half time 1-0 up, at the same stage Chelsea were 2-1 up. Virtually immediately after the break Everton scored again to make it 2-0, we were about to drop three points allowing Chelsea to draw level.

What happened next will live with me forever. Four un-answered United goals earned a 4-2 victory and to make matters even better, Bolton grabbed an equalizer and held on for a draw.

The first United goal was a tad fortunate, a howler from Everton’s goalkeeper allowed John O’Shea to score from a corner. As soon as that goal went in, Fergie immediately tapped Ronaldo (who was a substitute) and told him to warm up and get ready to go on. From that moment there was only going to be one winner. Another howler from Everton gifted us our second via a Phil Neville own goal. After receiving a constant abuse from Everton fans, Rooney scored the third and Chris Eagles finished things off by scoring the fourth.

The fortunes of both United and Chelsea were swinging one way than another.The day finished with United being five points clear of Chelsea and taking a massive step of winning the Premier League. A great day. 🙂

Of course the press will build this game up as the return of Wayne Rooney to Everton. In previous seasons we all know what sort of reaction Rooney has received from the home Everton Fans, not very welcoming to say the least. However, I’ve got a funny feeling the Everton fans will be less hostile than normal. In what is Rooney’s best season in terms of goals I think Everton fans will be proud they have produced one of the best players currently in the world. We will see, I could be totally wrong… Also, Rooney has recently intimated he will bring up his new born son as an Everton fan and perhaps this news will soften the hatred…

Fellaini and Cahill will be missing for Everton, which is a massive blow for them. Both have been permanent fixtures in what has as I’ve already mentioned an injury ravaged season. Both players are excellent headers of the ball and are a real handful.

Cahill is a real goal threat, for a short man he sure does have a spring in his jump. Regarding Fellaini, I wondered in his first season what Everton had spent £15 million on. He looked a man who could head the ball and not much else. He has improved considerably this season and we even saw some show boating with a nice piece of skill against Manchester City.

I feel Sir Alex Ferguson will stick with the recent tried and trusted formation of 4-3-3 in attack and 4-5-1 when we don’t have the ball.

We will be without Rio Ferdinand, who serves the final game of his ban and Nani who starts his three match ban.

Good news is the return of Nemanja Vidic to the first team squad. Will he start, hope so. Will he pick up an injury during the warm, probably… 🙂 In all seriousness though, we could do with a fit and focussed Vidic as we reach the climax of the season.

If Vidic is to start I would start Wes Brown at right back, replacing Rafael. As mentioned in the after-match discussion blog for the AC Milan game I felt Rafael had a poor game. I feel Brown’s experience will be needed.  However, it wouldn’t surprise me if Sir Alex Ferguson starts Rafael and tells him to prove his doubters wrong in a typical brilliant man management move by Fergie. The remainder of the defence virtually picks itself.

Unlike the Milan game, the defence will have to be on top form to deal with an inform striker in Louis Saha. Saha recently tore John Terry to shreds scoring two goals against Chelsea. It was a shame Saha was continually injured for us because he offered pace, movement and fluidity in attack. When fit, Saha is simply one of the best strikers in the world.

In midfield Carrick and Fletcher are almost certainties. Will Scholes be able to play two games in a week? Scholes is currently excelling in the three man midfield so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Scholes start and then subbed off mid-way through the second half. Scholes can be rested against West Ham on Tuesday. Possibly replacements are Anderson, who played his first football in a month against Everton reserves on Thursday and Gibson who recently has held a regular place on the substitute bench.

On either side of Rooney, I expect Valencia to start due to Nani’s suspension and Park to continue on the left. I was quite impressed with Park’s performance against AC Milan. I feel he and Rooney have a good understanding and linked well.

In our current form I’m fairly confident of victory. With Chelsea playing Wolves, you would fancy them to pick up three points so it’s vital we win. I fancy a 2-1 or 3-1 victory.

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    well after getting back from the game and having time to reflect i can only say SAF got it wrong,gary looked like what he is,over which is a shame cos i’ve been a neville fan for ages,but he didn’t even organise well today which is G’Ns strong point,evans looked as though h’d played a game too far as did evra,the best thing they could have done was give rooney the captains armband,(means nowt but it does to players) and being 2-1 down and reducing your own side to 10 men well that beat me,if your going to bring owen on you have got to sacrifice rooney as the man up front and play owen of the shoulder of their defence otherwise he’s a waste of space,it hadn’t happened for wayne all day so just to have dropped a tad deeper and actually run at them might have been better,overhaul disappointed,but its only what milan should have done to us(are we believing what we read(that we’re such a good side) i don’t believe so) sorry to be negative but that is what i feel we were to-day

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    Stretford End Arising on

    I thought Neville did okish. His lack of pace is obvious now. These could be the last games we see of Gary Neville in a United shirt.

    I’m definitely gonna go to his testemonial in (perhaps August…)

    I think we are a good side but need the return of our best defenders. I think we’ll see a difference when Rio returns.

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