Everton - Manchester United Preview: Wayne Rooney heads back to Goodison Park as Red Devils look to bounce back from derby day defeat
The Liverpool-born striker looks to end run of three league games without scoring, as midweek cup efforts take toll on hosts' starting line-up with Royston Drenthe suspended
By Joe Doyle
Neville, Jagielka, Distin, Baines
Coleman, Cahill, Bilyaletdinov
Smalling, Jones, Vidic, Evra
Nani, Fletcher, Carrick, Young
Everton's squad will be tested strongly after their marathon League Cup defeat against Chelsea on Wednesday, and will be without influential loanee Royston Drenthe - who has looked the Toffees' most dangerous player in recent weeks - following his red card in extra time.
David Moyes is more than likely to adopt a 4-5-1 formation, which the Goodison Park boss favours due to a shortage of strikers at the club, following the sale of Jermaine Beckford and injury to Victor Anichebe. Louis Saha looks set to lead the line against his former team, with ex-Red Devil Phil Neville and midfielder Tim Cahill both possible doubts after picking up knocks midweek.
Sir Alex Ferguson has a number of options to choose from following Manchester United's 3-0 victory over Aldershot, which essentially featured a side of reserve players. Michael Owen and Dimitar Berbatov are likely to miss out on a place in the starting XI despite their strong showing on Tuesday.
Expect Sir Alex to revert to the pairing of Chicharito and former Everton striker Wayne Rooney, with the latter set for an acrimonious welcome, as per usual at Goodison Park.
In central midfield, Sir Alex may favour changing things up after last week's debacle against Manchester City, with Michael Carrick likely to replace Anderson, although Darren Fletcher is set to start with Tom Cleverley still only just returning from injury.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Everton have only beaten Manchester United three times at Goodison Park since the formation of the Premier League in 1992.
- The Toffees have only scored 10 goals in the Premier League this season, with six of those scored in the final 10 minutes of the game.
- United's 6-1 defeat to neighbours Manchester City was their heaviest ever loss in the Premier League.
- Wayne Rooney is United's top scorer so far this season with nine in the league and 13 overall, but has not scored in his previous three appearances in the competition.
- Everton have not kept a clean sheet in the past eight league and cup matches, whilst Manchester United have scored in their past 19 games.
- Sir Alex Ferguson's side have not suffered back-to-back defeats in 31 games in all competitions.
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Top 3 Predictions
Everton 1-3 Manchester United
- 16.87 %
Everton 0-2 Manchester United
- 13.83 %
Everton 0-3 Manchester United
- 12.54 %
|Premier League (EPL)||4 Dec 2013||Manchester United 0 - Everton 1|
|Premier League (EPL)||10 Feb 2013||Manchester United 2 - Everton 0|
|Premier League (EPL)||20 Aug 2012||Everton 1 - Manchester United 0|
|Premier League (EPL)||22 Apr 2012||Manchester United 4 - Everton 4|
|Premier League (EPL)||29 Oct 2011||Everton 0 - Manchester United 1|
|1 Mar 2014||Everton 1 - West Ham 0||EPL|
|22 Feb 2014||Chelsea FC 1 - Everton 0||EPL|
|16 Feb 2014||Everton 3 - Swansea City 1||FA|
|9 Feb 2014||Tottenham 1 - Everton 0||EPL|
|1 Feb 2014||Everton 2 - Aston Villa 1||EPL|
|1||David de Gea||Goalkeeper|
|35||Fabio Da Silva||Defender|
The striker has been back among the goals in recent games, and just in time for an Everton side which seemed to be stagnating. Their midweek game against Chelsea proves they can still cut it with the big boys, and as Saha's header showcased, he still has quality despite the injury troubles that led to his Old Trafford departure.
It will always be a difficult game for Rooney as he returns to his boyhood club but it hasn't stopped him scoring in previous encounters. His temperament has been called into question in recent weeks following his sending off for England, and the striker hasn't found the back of the net in the Premier League since that day. What better way to prove your doubters wrong than scoring against your former club?
Everton often seem to raise their game in this fixture against such fearsome opposition, and the crowd at Goodison Park always plays their part in creating a hostile atmosphere. However, after such an embarrassing defeat last week, I cannot see United taking a second beating in a row against what is likely to be tired opposition.