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Preview: Free-scoring football to arrive at Goodison Park?

Goodison Park, Liverpool

Premier League 2016/17

Sunday 4th December 2016 – KO 16:00 [Live on Sky Sports]

Referee: Michael Oliver

Assistant Referees: Gary Beswick and Simon Bennett

Fourth Official: Paul Tierney

Manchester United visit Goodison Park to face Everton in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon. Fresh from the 4-1 victory over West Ham United in the EFL Cup at Old Trafford on Wednesday night, which saw Jose Mourinho banned from the sidelines, ready to return against the Toffees after being sent off against West Ham last weekend. United will be without former Evertonian Wayne Rooney, who amassed his fifth yellow card of the season against West Ham in the EFL Cup, which could be a big miss after the captain has kind of regained some of his form, playing some good football after the bad reports in the media from his period on duty with England. United really need to carry their free-flowing, free-scoring football from cup competitions over to the Premier League, which is needed in order for United to lay the foundations to better their place in the league – currently sixth. United are eleven points off the top spot, a lot of distance to catch in order to challenge for the league title this season.

United are four points off fifth place, currently occupied by Tottenham Hotspur, their next league opponents, a match played at Old Trafford on Sunday 11th December 2016. United have eight points to find to catch up with fourth-placed Arsenal, so they have plenty of work ahead of them. Jose Mourinho spoke about United free-scoring football in the cup competitions, suggesting that is was only a matter of time before that transpired into the league, saying:

“I am always expecting this, especially because we are playing so well. Sometimes when you are not playing well, you are hoping that something happens for you to score a goal – a set-piece, a corner, a mistake, individual action. 

“But this is not the case as we are playing so well and we are producing so much that the normal thing is to score goals and win matches. We are doing it in the cups: four against Feyenoord, four Fenerbahce, four West Ham. In the Premier League, apart from four against Leicester and three Swansea, the matches were all about zero and one.”

Last season, United’s visit to Goodison Park resulted in a 3-0 victory with Morgan Schneiderlin, Ander Herrera and Wayne Rooney all scoring goals. United went into the match after being defeated 3-0 by Arsenal just before the international break, but their form improved, albeit for a short period. At this stage last season, United were in the middle of a six-match winless run, winning their last match on the 21st November 2015, not winning against until the 2nd January 2016. During that period, Louis van Gaal was in the media being tipped for the sack – that was before Christmas. Jose Mourinho was sacked by Chelsea around the same time, with him being linked to replace the Dutchman, which he did in May, only days after the Emirates FA Cup win. Mourinho has good memories of Goodison Park, speaking during his press conference on Friday, saying:

“Everton is Everton. I play against Martinez’s Everton, Moyes’s Everton and it is always difficult. 

“It is always beautiful with a great crowd and a great stadium, which is historical for my country as Eusebio scored four goals in one match there during the World Cup in ’66. 

“I had so many great matches there. Some of those games I lost, some I won, but always a great match. The way United is playing, combined with the way Everton always try to play, means it should be a very good match.”

Manchester United Form:- WDWDW

West Ham United 4-1 W, West Ham United 1-1 D, Feyenoord 4-0 W, Arsenal 1-1 D, Swansea City 3-1 W

Over the last few weeks Manchester United have been playing some great football. Draws against Arsenal and west Ham United in the league, with high scoring victories against Feyenoord (in the UEFA Europa League) and West Ham United (in the EFL Cup), seem to stand United on separate ground from league football to cup football. That form in the cup tournaments needs to be carried forward into the league, as the last eight league matches, United have won only twice (against Leicester City and Swansea City), drawing five times, and losing once – the humiliation away to Chelsea. United, apart from the visit to Chelsea, have dominated teams, failing to score their chances, which against Burnley was 37 attempts and 17 against West Ham United last Sunday.

Everton Form:- LDLWL

Southampton 1-0 L, Swansea City 1-1 D, Chelsea 5-0 L, West Ham United 2-0 W, Burnley 2-1 L

Everton started the season well and in the Premier League at least, are unbeaten at home. The Toffees sit in seventh place in the league, a point below United, who are in sixth place. Last season United won this fixture 3-0, an easy victory, but this season, it will be tougher with Everton being led by Ronald Koeman, Louis van Gaal’s bitter enemy. The Dutchman has been talking up Memphis Depay, who seems to be out of favour at Old Trafford this season, offering little when given the chance and seemingly not doing enough to impress the manager in training. It is a shame that Memphis is not chomping at the bit at United, but letting him leave for a Premier League club may come back to haunt United, unless until their cup form transpires into the league.

Manchester United Top Scorers:

11 – Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 5 – Juan Mata, 4 – Anthony Martial, Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford, 3 – Jesse Lingard, Wayne Rooney, 1 – Michael Carrick, Own Goal, Ander Herrera, Chris Smalling

Everton Top Scorers:

7 – Romelu Lukaku, 3 – Ross Barkley, 2 – Gareth Barry, Seamus Coleman, Arouna Koné, 1 – Yannick Bolasie, Aaron Lennon, Kevin Mirallas

Manchester United Squad;

Manager: Jose Mourinho

Goalkeepers: David De Gea, Sergio Romero, Sam Johnstone

Defenders: Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, Luke Shaw, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Antonio Valencia, Matteo Darmian, Axel Tuanzebe

Midfielders: Paul Pogba, Memphis Depay, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Michael Carrick, Ashley Young, Ander Herrera, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marouane Fellaini, Morgan Schneiderlin

Forwards: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford

Injuries and Suspensions: Chris Smalling (foot), Eric Bailly (knee), Luke Shaw (knock) – Wayne Rooney (one match)

Everton Squad:

Manager: Ronald Koeman

Goalkeepers: Joel Robles, Maarten Stekelenburg

Defenders: Leighton Baines, Ashley Williams, Phil Jagielka, Bryan Oviedo, Séamus Coleman, Ramiro Funes Mori, Tyias Browning, Mason Holgate, Brendan Galloway, Matthew Pennington

Midfielders: Darron Gibson, Gerard Deulofeu, Ross Barkley, Kevin Mirallas, Aaron Lennon, Yannick Bolasie, Tom Cleverley, James McCarthy, Idrissa Gueye, Gareth Barry, Muhamed Bešić, Tom Davies, Kieran Dowell, Conor Grant

Forwards: Arouna Koné, Romelu Lukaku, Shani Tarashaj

Injuries and Suspensions: James McCarthy (hamstring), Muhamed Bešić (ACL), Matthew Pennington (hamstring)

Predicted Starting XI:

Predicted Score:

Everton 0-3 Manchester United

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