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Preview: Solskjaer to test his United first team against Everton to get them ready?

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Manchester United -v- Everton

Pre-Season 2021/22

Old Trafford, Manchester

Saturday 7 August 2021, KO 12:45 BST

Manchester United welcome Everton to Old Trafford on Saturday as they prepare to end their pre-season campaign ahead of the new Premier League season commencing next weekend. United were supposed to face Preston North End last weekend but the fixture was cancelled because of a coronavirus scare which resulted in no first team players testing positive and the pre-season preparations continuing. United have spent the first half of the week at St Andrews in Scotland on their second training camp of the summer, which saw many first team players return to the club after their summer holidays. David De Gea, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes and Anthony Martial have all returned to training.

This pre-season campaign may not have been the best with Euro 2020 and Copa American, not to mention the Olympics all playing a part this summer but the players that played more than 60 matches last season will have had a good rest ahead of the new season commencing, which cannot be said for last summer with little rest between one season ending and a new season starting. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will see his team boosted by Jadon Sancho, who has not been pictured in training yet and Raphael Varane, whose signing has not yet been completed by the Old Trafford club. There is still hope that United will make more additions to the squad this summer, but that will result in clearing some players out of the club first, which may or may not be possible.

United’s first team is starting to come back together after the summer break.

Solskjaer has been boosted by the return to training of David De Gea, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes and Anthony Martial, who have been missing this summer because of Euro 2020 and in Martial’s sake, his return from the injury that ended his season prematurely last season. Edinson Cavani is still yet to return to the squad for training, which should happen before Saturday’s match, if it has not happened already. United will be back to full strength before a ball is kicked in the Premier League, which is a good thing after a turbulent pre-season campaign so far. United have won one match, against Derby County, were defeated by Queens Park Rangers and draw with Brentford.

Obviously, fitness is a major issue for United ahead of the opening Premier League clash with Leeds United a week on Saturday, which will be a big match for United. The entire squad has not really featured together this summer, and will get a chance to do that on Saturday, providing there is a suitable level of fitness ahead of the match. It is hoped that Jadon Sancho will feature for the first time with United against Everton, who will be seeking to end their pre-season campaign with a victory this summer. It will be good to see the supporters back inside Old Trafford once again, after the clash with Brentford last week with a bid to end what was last season with matches being played in empty stadiums, which was a terrible experience most of the time.

Previous meetings with Everton and their connections with Manchester United.

United and Everton have met a total of 206 times competitively since the formation of both clubs. United have won 90 times, drawn 46 times with Everton winning 70 times. In the last five meetings between both clubs, United are undefeated, winning twice and drawing three times. The last defeat to Everton was on the 21 April 2019 with the Toffees winning 4-0 with goals from Richarlison, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Lucas Digne and Theo Walcott. Prior to that match, United were unbeaten against Everton in the eight matches before, winning six and drawing twice. Rafael Benitez is now in the Everton hot seat and will be seeking to change the clubs fortunes after finishing tenth in the Premier League last season.

United and Everton have a long history with players featuring for both teams over the years. Currently, the only player at Everton to have played for United is Michael Keane. The 28-year-old started his footballing life at United as part of the clubs academy, alongside his brother, Will Keane. He was sold to Burnley in January 2015 before he was sold on to Everton in the summer of 2017. One of the beat known transfers from Everton to United was Wayne Rooney, who joined the Old Trafford club as a teenager in the summer of 2004. United have also signed Marouane Fellaini and Romelu Lukaku, amongst others from Everton in the not too distant past. Mark Hughes, Andrei Kanchelskis, Phil Neville, Jesper Blomqvist and Tim Howard have played for both clubs.

Predicted Starting XI: Tom Heaton to start in goal; Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw to start in defence; Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes to start in midfield with the latter playing in the number ten role; Anthony Elanga to lead the line against Everton?

Solskjaer has seen the likes of Tahith Chong, Nathan Bishop, Will Fish, D’Shon Bernard and Facundo Pellistri leave the club on loan since the pre-season campaign started and the likes of Teden Mengi, Hannibal Mejbri and Shola Shoretire have not been involved in the training camp at St Andrews in Scotland for the first few days of this week, so his squad will look more of a first team squad. It would be wise to start many of the major players in the squad, at least for the first 45 minutes of the match, which will give many of them chances to start against Leeds United next weekend as the Premier League starts for the 2021/22 season, which is much-awaited. United will be seeking to change the way they started last season, which cost them big time.

Tom Heaton should start in goal again, with David De Gea getting 30 or 45 minutes in the second half of the match to see if he can be in contention to feature against Leeds. In defence, Aaron Wan-Bissaka will probably play much of the match, featuring in pre-season so far with Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw playing their first minutes of the summer. Nemanja Matic could start in midfield with Paul Pogba, which might work well. Mason Greenwood could start on the right with Bruno Fernandes in the middle and Anthony Martial returning from injury on the left. Anthony Elanga should start as the main striker in the match as his pace and ability will cause a few problems. The bench might be void os many attacking players, but will be good enough.

Match Prediction: Winning is not the point of this match with fitness the main importance. But United will be seeking to get a good result at Old Trafford ahead of the Leeds United match a week later.

Solskjaer has stated that he wants to start this season such different to last season. The coronavirus pandemic effectively made it difficult to continue last season with such a short break between the UEFA Europa League finishing and the new Premier League season starting. United did not do well at the start of last season, which effectively ended their title chances, despite looking good around the Christmas period and seemingly mounting a title challenge, which seemed to end by the start of 2021. This season, Solskjaer has a better team with the arrival of Jadon Sancho and Rafael Varane, who will both improve the squad ahead of what will be an important season for both Solskjaer and United.

Everton have played two pre-season matches so far this summer with the clash with United being their third. United will be seeking to win at Old Trafford, seeing as they failed to find the winner against Brentford a week and a half ago. It would be good to see United get a win a week before the Leeds match which will give some positivity over the coming week to get ready for the 2021/22 season, which is going to be a challenge with the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea all seeking to run the race for the Premier League title and United will need to be amongst the fight for the trophy. Many will be looking forward to seeing fans in their numbers at the Theatre of Dreams for this match, which could help change things this season.

Manchester United 2-1 Everton

Written by John Walker

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