Manchester United, desperate for a Premier League win, will take on Everton at Goodison Park and try to make the quantitative value of their qualitatively excellent form. United, playing fluid, attacking football that has caused Jose Mourinho a selection headache, has failed to take their chances at key moments and has been subject to very bad luck. As a result, United, despite having very high hopes for the season, sits in sixth, just one place above opponents Everton, who happen to be in sparkling form under the tactical mastermind of Ronald Koeman. Koeman, who earned two wins at Old Trafford with tactical masterclasses on both occasions in his time at Southampton, will be looking to grab a home win against United, which he is yet to do. If United is to prevent this from happening, key players will need to be on form, and Everton’s key players will need to be kept quiet.
Romelu Lukaku, Everton, Striker
In sparkling form again this season for Ronald Koeman’s slightly more defensive Everton side (though it was always going to be more defensive than Roberto Martinez), Romelu Lukaku needs to be watched closely by United for two reasons- the first is because he is an incredibly dangerous threat on physical and technical fronts (though mostly physical), and the second is because he could be the future solution to United’s attacking problems, especially when Zlatan Ibrahimovic leaves and if the dream of Antoine Griezmann isn’t going to be a reality.
Ross Barkley, Everton, Attacking Midfielder
Personally, while I don’t think Lukaku is as good as everyone believes him to be, I think Ross Barkley could emerge to be a great future target for Manchester United. Young and English, he has slipped under the radar because of the emergence of the likes of Dele Alli and Raheem Sterling (who has since gone silent). Barkley is an attacking midfielder, but he boasts the physical threat and defensive nous to be a spark of brilliance in a midfield three, and his free-flowing, dribbling and physical style makes him similar to Paul Pogba in many ways. Barkley, still only 22, was one of the best attacking midfielders in the Premier League, and the same type of form would easily make him a good addition in the summer.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Manchester United, Attacking Midfielder
I simply needed to include Mkhitaryan, because it has been so long since Manchester United have had this kind of player on their hands. In his football, it is easy to see the countless hours of effort he has put into perfecting his technique, but also his brain- he moves quicker than everyone else on the pitch, boasts incredible acceleration and circles the channels as if there is no one defending them. The space created by Mkhitaryan is in massive gaps created by his electric anticipation and movement, and he is able to exploit that space with brilliant passing and dribbling. Combine that with his incredible desire to play for United and you have a truly special player- if you don’t believe me, simply read this article he wrote, in fluent English, despite only being around for four months.
Anthony Martial, Manchester United, Left-Winger
The questions around Martial in recent weeks were of pure envy, and while I think Marcus Rashford is a brilliant player, the Frenchman takes the cake. He showed on Wednesday just how electric he is with the ball close to his feet, with explosive pace, incredible turning, and insane dribbling ability. There is a unique quality that Martial brings that I see in very few players, and if he doesn’t play this weekend, I will not be happy, especially considering he scored two effortless goals against a team United couldn’t even beat in the Premier League.