Manchester United are facing a major personnel dilemma for their match against Everton, with Ander Herrera ruled out for four weeks with a broken rib, and club captain Wayne Rooney suspended after receiving a straight red card in the game against West Ham. It means Darren Fletcher and Juan Mata respectively are in line to replace the duo, whose names are added to a long list of unavailable players. Louis van Gaal also has the option of going for a more attack-minded replacement for Herrera, and could opt for Antonio Valencia on the right side of the midfield three, or he could bring in Marouane Fellaini to add a bit of power to midfield. In some better news for United fans, Phil Jones is ready to resume playing after a hamstring injury, and is likely to slot straight back in to the heart of defence given the club’s injury crisis. Also, Tyler Blackett is free to return after serving a one match suspension for the red card he received in the 5-3 loss to Leicester City a fortnight ago.
Despite the dramatic changes in personnel, it is unlikely that Louis van Gaal will alter his 4-4-2 diamond formation, given the likes of Mata, Fletcher and Jones can slot straight into the starting eleven without a change in system. Jones is likely to replace last week’s first team debutant Paddy McNair, despite the youngster putting in an impressive showing against West Ham.
Unlike the Red Devils, Everton faced the difficulties of coping with European football, making a 4800 mile Europa League trip against Russian outfit Krasnodar, which ended in a 1-1 draw. It will have a major barring on the squad they take to Old Trafford on Sunday, with players like Romelu Lukaku, Muhamed Besic and Steven Naismith benched for the clash with one eye on Manchester United. Seamus Coleman, who has missed the last three matches through injury, was not on the plane to Russia, and so he is likely to feature in the Premier League.
If Coleman returns, he will likely replace Tony Hibbert at right-back, while Samuel Eto’o may retain his place in the starting eleven after getting on the scoresheet against Krasnodar. Kevin Mirallas injured his hamstring against Liverpool last weekend and is out, meaning Naismith could be brought in to play out wide, with Lukaku occupying the other flank and Eto’o playing centrally.
With a lack of stability in the United squad, and particularly in defence, expect this affair to be high-scoring. Given the Red Devils frailties in defence and their irresistibility going forward, they should have no problem scoring, but whether they can hold out the likes of Lukaku and Eto’o in defence remains the big question. Everton have not been good defensively themselves, conceding the most goals in the Premier League so far (14), highlighting there gapping issues at the back also. Therefore, if both sides current form is anything to go by, it should make for a topsy-turvy affair at Old Trafford, with lots of goals
Score Prediction – Manchester United 3 Everton 2
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