Manchester United’s soaring start came to an end last week, when the Red Devils were forced to a 2-2 draw against Stoke City. United still remain unbeaten after four games and top the Premier League table, yet only on goal difference.
They will next take on Merseyside team Everton on Sunday.
The game marks Wayne Rooney’s return to Old Trafford after making a summer switch back to his boyhood club, in the hope of getting more playing time. The 31-year-old spent 13 years at United, becoming the club’s highest goal scorer by notching 253 goals in return. But his last season at the club saw him constantly warming the bench, as his dip in form steadily saw him grow out of Jose Mourinho’s favour.
The switch to Everton was made in an attempt to re-establish his career, and so far he’s performed well for his new team. His two goals for the club earned them a win against Stoke City and a draw against Manchester City. Against United however, he will come across a strong, yet familiar opposition.
Despite the 2-2 draw, Mourinho didn’t seem too concerned about the form of his players. What will be a worry is how the team manages without the services of the injured Paul Pogba. The Frenchman has been a lynchpin in United’s attack, and has often linked-up seamlessly with United’s 75 million pound purchase Romelu Lukaku.
The strong Belgian, who has made a good start to life at Old Trafford scoring four goals in as many games, will be expected to lead the frontline against Everton. There is the consistency of Juan Mata, along with the flair of Henrikh Mkhitaryan to aid him. Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford have also struck a lethal partnership up front.
Before the game against Stoke, United had maintained three consecutive clean sheets. Avoiding defeat against Everton will give United its first five-game unbeaten start to the season since 2011-12. But given their record against the Toffees, odds are stacked in United’s favour.
The Red Devils have won 33 matches against Everton, which is the second highest for most number of wins against a single opponent – United have 34 wins against Aston Villa.
A win for United will give them a further grasp of the leaderboard. Everton, meanwhile, sit in the 16th and have won just four points in their four matches – all four points coming courtesy of the two Rooney strikes.