Venue: Goodison Park
Kick-off: 15:00 (BST)
Everton welcome Manchester United to Goodison Park on Saturday and the match promises to be an enticing encounter.
Following their difficult campaign last term, Everton were determined to enjoy a more productive season this time around and much to the delight the club faithful, the Toffees have managed to make a very positive start in the Premier League.
Currently on a five match unbeaten run, Everton are within touching distance of the Champions League spot and while there is certainly a very long way to go before the Merseyside based outfit can realize their dream of playing in Europe, manager Roberto Martinez should be confident regarding his side’s chances.
In order to do so though, Everton will have to see off the challenge of bigger teams and a clash against giants Manchester United this weekend would be a perfect opportunity for the Toffees to prove their worth.
Manchester United also have enjoyed a strong start to the season but following their crushing 3-0 defeat at the hands of Arsenal last time out, the Red Devils’ glaring weaknesses have been cruelly exposed.
While too much cannot be read into a single defeat, it is clear to see that United have a long way to go in order to be able to win the Premier League title this season and at this moment in time, a top four finish seems to be the most realistic target the Red Devils can hope for.
However, manager Louis van Gaal remains confident that his side can challenge for the Premier League crown this season and as a result, the Dutchman will be demanding his players to bounce back as soon as possible – starting off with a tough away clash against Everton.
Everton manager Roberto Martinez has a lot of injury problems to contend with ahead of the clash as the likes of Leighton Baines, Muhamed Besic, Tom Cleverley, Tony Hibbert and Steven Pienaar have all been ruled out due to various fitness related issues while key defender John Stones is also rated as a doubt.
Tim Howard is a certainty to start in goal for Everton and the Toffees’ backline should consist of Brendan Galloway, Phil Jagielka, John Stones and Seamus Coleman. If Stones misses out, Ramiro Funes Mori will be the man replacing the England international in the starting eleven.
Gareth Barry and James McCarthy have formed a very good partnership at the middle of the park this season and the duo look like certain starters while Arouna Kone and Steven Naismith will most likely be occupying the wide positions.
Gerard Deulofeu also provides Everton with an option while Kevin Mirallas is available for selection once again after serving his three match suspension.
In the attacking midfield position, Ross Barkley will be the man starting and in form Romelu Lukaku is set to be leading the line for the Toffees.
Manchester United also have a couple of injury concerns ahead of the clash as Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera, Paddy McNair, Marcos Rojo, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Wayne Rooney are all struggling with niggles.
David De Gea performed heroics for the Spanish national team on international duty and he will be starting in goal for Manchester United. In defence, Matteo Darmian, Daley Blind and Chris Smalling look like certain starters but it will be interesting to see who will be used in the left back position.
Ashley Young endured a difficult time against Arsenal last time out and van Gaal could well consider moving Blind into left back and in turn, give Phil Jones his first start of the season in central defence.
Morgan Schneiderlin and Michael Carrick will be the players starting at the middle of the park while the wide positions look likely to be occupied by Juan Mata and Memphis Depay.
Wayne Rooney should be able to shake off his injury problem to start in the attacking midfield position while young Anthony Martial is certain to be leading the line for United.
Everton (Probable XI): Howard; Galloway, Jagielka, Stones, Coleman, McCarthy, Barry, Naismith, Barkley, Kone; Lukaku
Manchester United (Probable XI): De Gea; Young, Blind, Smalling, Darmian; Carrick, Schneiderlin, Depay, Rooney, Mata; Martial
6/04/2015 Everton 3 – 0 Manchester United
05/10/2014 Manchester United 2 – 1 Everton
Everton have claimed three victories in their last four encounters against Manchester United and they will surely have nothing to fear heading into Saturday’s fixture.
Manchester United do not look like the most confident of teams at the moment and if Everton can exploit the Red Devils’ shaky looking backline, the Toffees certainly stand a great chance of claiming a victory.
That said though, United always pose a danger in the final third due to the plethora of quality players available at their disposal and Everton will surely have to do their best in order to keep the likes of Anthony Martial, Juan Mata and Wayne Rooney quiet.
While many perhaps view United as the favourites heading into the clash, there is very little to choose from between the two sides and the match should prove to be a fascinating encounter.
Everton are the form team at the moment and if they play to their full potential, another victory over the Red Devils is well within the realms of possibility.
Everton 2 – 1 Manchester United