Manchester United host Everton at Old Trafford for their fifth game of the Premier League season.
Manchester United come into the match on the back of a thumping 3-0 victory over FC Basel in the UEFA Champions League, in what was their first game in the elite European competition in nearly two years. Goals from Marouane Fellaini, Romelu Lukaku, and Marcus Rashford gave Mourinho’s men a head start in the Group Stage. Their last action in the Premier League came last Saturday as they were held to a frustrating 2-2 draw by Mark Hughes’ Stoke City, a game which ended United’s 100% record start to the season.
On the other hand, the mood of the visitors would be totally different, as they crashed to an embarrassing 3-0 defeat to Atalanta FC in the Europa League Group Stage. Ronald Koeman has been targeted by fans and pundits alike for his shocking team selections and tactics, which ultimately condemned them to a heavy defeat at the hands of a team who were playing their first European match after a 26-year absence. The boss and Jagielka apologised to the fans after the match, but were unable to fully explain why a team that spent £130m in the summer transfer window couldn’t defeat a team that was playing 120 miles away from their city, at their temporary home stadium.
This was their second 3-0 defeat in a row, as they lost to Tottenham in the Premier League last Saturday with the same final score.
In team news, United will be without star man Paul Pogba, who sustained a hamstring injury and was forced off the field in only the 19th minute against FC Basel. While the extent of his injury hasn’t been officially stated, there’s a sense of fear amongst the club that the star midfielder could miss up to 6 weeks of action. His absence could give Herrera another chance to stake his claim in the starting eleven, and Mourinho could be forced to play with three midfielders against Everton. Luke Shaw still lacks match fitness, while Ibrahimovic is still on his way to return from injury. Ashley Young could usurp Valencia at the right back, as he produced a brilliant performance in his first game in nearly four and a half months. Bailly and Jones are expected to return at centre-back, while Rashford could return to the left wing. Fellaini is also expected to start after a convincing performance, and so is Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
For the visitors, there would be no new injury concerns, and they’re only missing long term absentees like Barkley (hamstring), Funes Mori and Bolasie (both knee) and Coleman (broken leg). This game would mark former United legend Wayne Rooney’s return to Old Trafford for the first time since his free transfer to Everton in the summer. He’s likely to get a good support from both sets of fans, and it would surely be an emotional day for him to return to a stadium where he spent 12 seasons.
Being an optimistic fan, I’m sure this will be a one sided victory for United. As much as Everton have the quality, they certainly aren’t on a good run of form and would surely be easy opponents for a United side that is on fire. Everton will be out to improve their current run of form, but a probable victory for the Red Devils could bring Everton squad under more scrutiny and Ronald Koeman closer to the exit door.