Manchester United face Everton at Goodison Park in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon in a bid that could put some pressure on Chelsea, especially if they fail to beat Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium in Saturday. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will be seeking to keep their seven match unbeaten run in a bid to achieve a UEFA Champions League place next season. Everton could be a tough team for United to beat.
In their last match, United beat Club Brugge 5-0 at Old Trafford in the UEFA Europa League round of 32 second leg, drawing 1-1 in the first leg just over a week ago. Goals from Bruno Fernandes, Scott McTominay, Odion Ighalo, and a brace from Fred saw United blow the Belgian’s out of the water. The confidence will be there to do the same to Everton, especially after the 4-0 defeat in this fixture last season.
Here is my predicted starting XI to face Everton in the Premier League at Goodison Park on Sunday afternoon…
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
The Spanish number one was rested for the 5-0 Club Brugge victory with Sergio Romero getting yet another clean sheet this season. De Gea has two clean sheets in his last two Premier League matches, keeping four clean sheets in his last seven matches in all competitions with United having eight clean sheets in their last 13 matches in all competitions. Maybe now is the time that United move forward, getting the better of their opposition with the players they have in the team who all seem to be working towards the same goal, reaching the UEFA Champions League next season.
Defenders: Eric Bailly, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw
United’s defence have done well recently in helping the club keep eight clean sheets in 13 matches in all competitions. Solskjaer used a back four against Club Brugge, playing at Old Trafford but away from home he has more often than not, recently, playing three at the back. In this game, it could benefit United having Eric Bailly, Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw, who has played well as a left-sided defender in this formation. The three-man defence could unlock the midfield, holding Everton back and letting United attack deep in their half from the start of the match. Everton have beaten United in this fixture last season but United are a much better team now.
Midfield: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Fred, Scott McTominay, Brandon Williams
The midfield is something that United have struggled with at times this season but now there is some movement here and rotation options. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Brandon Williams will most likely be the wing-back options if this formation is correct, as it has been away from home recently. I did expect Nemanja Matic to play in this game but the dominant display of Fred, who scored two goals against Club Brugge and Scott McTominay, who scored one, will keep them their places in the starting XI for this match. This could be the best way United deals with each match, which are all threats against their finishing position in the league. United still have two chances to reach the Champions League next season and they should keep trying for both as long as they can.
Attacking Midfield: Bruno Fernandes, Daniel James
The attacking midfield is something that has been great over the past few matches. Bruno Fernandes has made a great impact at the club, scoring two goals and assisting two goals in five appearances so far since he signed for the club. In this game, with Anthony Martial missing the last game, it could mean United have a choice of two forwards to lead the line so keeping one of them on the bench, just in case, would be the best option. In this case, having Daniel James alongside Fernandes would be the best option. The Welshman is seeking to improve his form and has done well in the last few matches. Playing alongside Fernandes could be good for him as he is still learning and has played a lot of competitive football this season and is more a player for the future.
Forwards: Odion Ighalo
Odion Ighalo will be relishing his playing time for United this season. He has almost scored goals each time he has played, finally getting there with this goal against Club Brugge on Thursday evening. The Nigerian became the first Nigerian to score for United, which is something that will give the country a lot of pride. United will be in good hands with Ighalo leading the line. The guy is confident in himself and his hold up play is pretty impressive. Granted, it may not work all the time but with confidence at a high right now, it could still work, especially against Everton, who need to be beaten and put back in their place.
Substitutes: Sergio Romero; Victor Lindelof, Diogo Dalot; Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Andreas Pereira; Mason Greenwood
The bench will be important for United. Having players who can make an impact at a point in the game would be good, Granted, United are missing some important players right now so do not have the best on the bench. Sergio Romero will be back on the bench after his clean sheet against Brugge. In defence, Victor Lindelof and Diogo Dalot will be there if they are needed the latter can play an attacking role also. Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard and Andreas Pereira could find places on the bench to strengthen the midfield, only if needed as Mata may be tired from Thursday’s match. Mason Greenwood could come off the bench in the game to help United find more goals or using his energy against Everton to keep tiring them out. Solskjaer will need a game plan to beat Ancelotti.