Manchester United take on Everton at Goodison Park this afternoon. The Red Devils are looking to bounce back after their dismal showing vs Arsenal, where they stumbled to a 3-0 defeat. Van Gaal has promised a better display, but there are one or two worrying factors that could stand in the way of United regaining their momentum in the league.
Wayne Rooney has been without any football action for almost 2 weeks, so his match rhythm (which is already poor) may be even poorer. However, with Van Gaal labelling the striker as ‘undroppable’ could it be that Rooney is once again thrown out against his former side, and perform well below par.
United’s defence is another concern. With the injury to Luke Shaw the left back spot has been left vacant, and it is still yet to be claimed by someone. There are various options to choose from in the back 4, but the consistency that we saw under the partnership of Darmian, Smalling, Blind and Shaw is still yet to be replicated – with Van Gaal chopping and changing the back line. We think Jones could start with Smalling in the middle of defence, with Blind being pushed out to the left.
Everton defenders John Stones and Seamus Coleman are expected to return after overcoming knee and hamstring injuries respectively. Tom Cleverley and Steven Pienaar should also be fit and Kevin Mirallas is available after suspension.
United’s Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick are fit again, as are Ander Herrera and Marcos Rojo.
But Ashley Young has been ruled out with a tight calf and Paddy McNair is unavailable after rupturing his liver.
[Injury news and quotes via BBC Sport]
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal had this to say in the run up to the game: “It has been an awful two weeks. Before the last international break in September we lost against Swansea. These are awful weeks. You are constantly thinking about how it happened. You cannot manage it with your players. That is what you have to do as a manager. But all the players are flying out, especially the last game because we played on a Sunday. They fly out direct after the match.”
Here’s how we think United will line up vs Everton:
Darmian – Smalling – Jones – Blind
Schneiderlin – Schweinsteiger
Mata – Rooney – Memphis