It was last seasons corresponding fixture that Sir Alex Ferguson feels cost Manchester United the Premier League title. Everton’s late comeback at Old Trafford to draw 4-4 is regarded as the turning point in United’s battle with Manchester City at the top with their local rivals eventually lifting the trophy on goal difference. Ferguson vowed it would never happen again and promptly spent £22.5 million on Robin Van Persie, who looks increasingly likely to be the defining force in the title race. Narrow wins against Southampton and Fulham would suggest United are performing below par but the old adage that good teams grind out victories. To put it into context they haven’t lost since 24th November – a run of 13 games. But with the Champions League last-16 clash with Real Madrid coming just 72 hours after theres a feeling that Ferguson could tinker with his starting lineup and rest some of his regulars to keep them fresh for the visit of Jose Mourinho and co.
That could play right into the hands of David Moyes and Everton who still garner ambitions of snatching a spot in the top-four and qualification to next seasons Champions League. The Toffees haven’t left Old Trafford victorious in 19 league visits since a 3-0 success in August 1992 and started off their season by beating United at Goodison Park, but they focus need to be on avoiding a defeat that could damage their chances of catching fourth-placed Tottenham. Muzzling the threat of Van Persie and Wayne Rooney and getting Marouane Fellaini into the game as much as possible will undoubtedly be at the forefront of Moyes’ mind going into the game. Playing for a draw might be his best bet given the Red Devils’ have won in each of their last nine matches on home turf.
Ashley Young is back for Manchester United after a five-match absence, while Phil Jones and Michael Carrick are fit after they withdrew from international duty in mid-week.
Marouane Fellaini should play despite a hip injury forcing him to miss out for Belgium with Phil Jagielka also available for selection.
What the managers said…
“It will be different teams. The team on Sunday will not be the same as the team that plays on Wednesday. I trust the squad of players I have. They are all internationals, they are all good players and there is no reason why I can’t play them. They’re all contributing in their own way and that gives us a better chance of dealing with the various competitions we’re in.” Sir Alex Ferguson says he will drastically alter his starting lineup for the games against Everton and Real Madrid (Sky Sports)
“You can go and have a go at them, but they open you up and you lose heavily. But I think that we’ll go there and try and do what we’ve done for most of the season. I don’t think we’ll suddenly go there and try and come up with anything different. Just like I don’t think they’ll come up with anything different. We’ll need to be better defensively though. We’ll need to not give them easy goals because if we do that it’s too hard to go and score four every time you go there.” David Moyes believes attack is the best form of defence against Manchester United (Liverpool Echo)
Pre-match Statistic: United have scored at least twice in all but one of their 12 Premier League games at Old Trafford this season.
Prediction: Manchester United 3-1 Everton