The second of the two Premier League offerings this afternoon sees Everton play host to Manchester United where 8th play host to 7th. A win for either side would see them move to 6th in the table but with the form of these two sides at present that task is easier said than done.
For Everton it’s no league win in three while for United it’s just a solitary win in four. For both sides that form has seen them lose ground with the pack of title chasing teams above them and neither outfit can afford to lose further ground this afternoon.
Last Sunday saw Ronald Koeman have a not so happy return to the St Mary’s as his side were beaten by Southampton. The fact that were caught cold in the winter weather and conceded within the first 60 seconds would have been of some concern for the former Saints boss.
It’s almost as if they haven’t recovered from that 5-0 demolition job they suffered from the hands of Chelsea last month. They were made to look incredibly ordinary that evening and their performances haven’t improved in the two matches since.
They had Seamus Coleman to thank for salvaging a point against basement side Swansea a fortnight ago and they offered very little in terms of a goal threat last Sunday away at Southampton. It’s now three games without a goal for Romelu Lukaku but Everton fans will hope that he is fired up when he goes up against a Jose Mourinho side once again.
It was Mourinho who decided that Lukaku wasn’t good enough to play at Chelsea but his rubbish has been Everton’s treasure. That said it does seem to be the case that when Lukaku goes quiet so do Everton and Koeman needs to get the rest of the squad firing to lessen the goalscoring burden on the Belgian international.
Their visitors Manchester United have drawn their last four home matches so will probably relish the fact they are playing away from home this afternoon. Their last win in the league came on the road when they beat Swansea 3-0 before the international break.
Last Sunday it was another frustrating afternoon for United as they had to make do with a share of the points with West Ham. After going behind through a Diafra Sahko strike they managed to get back in the game thanks to a Zlatan Ibrahimovic equaliser but once again it was matters on the touchline which earned the headlines.
Again Jose Mourinho was shown to the stands after again debating the lack of a penalty. This time it was John Moss who wasn’t in the mood for listening to Mourinho’s complaints and he had no hesitation in telling The Special One that his time was up. Let’s not forget that was not the first time that John Moss and Mourinho have had a run in.
That removal from the touchline meant that Mourinho was banned for their 4-1 win over West Ham in the EFL Cup on Wednesday. But if you were to believe reports that didn’t stop him from viewing the game anyway. The Special One became The Sneaky One it seems.
The EFL Cup victory may have given them brief respite from their stuttering league form but they can’t afford to stutter anymore. Even with just a third of the season gone their title hopes seem to have disappeared and if they aren’t careful their exile from the Champions League could continue.
A lot of focus will be on Wayne Rooney. He is just one goal away from surpassing the all time goal scoring record set by Bobby Charlton and with a return to Goodison Park what price would you put on him breaking that record at the ground where he broke onto the footballing stage as a teenager.
If I was a betting man I would put some money on that and if I was that same man I would put some money on United to win at Everton. United may have flattered to deceive in the league as of late but their tails up should be up after a win in midweek while The Toffees are a different side from the one that started the campaign so well. I’ll go for a United win and Wayne Rooney to win it.