We’ve already been privy to some absolute classics in the Premier League this season and the coming weekend has thrown up yet another round of incredibly promising fixtures.
The action kicks off with Jurgen Klopp’s first game in charge of Liverpool – a 12.45pm visit to Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday – whilst Aston Villa’s clash with out-of-sorts Chelsea is another game seemingly beckoning drama and controversy.
There hasn’t actually been a draw between the Toffees and United in their last six Premier League encounters, Everton winning four and the Red Devils winning two, so a victory seems to be the likeliest result.
Who claims it could well depend on dominating the key individual battles, however. So with that in mind, we’ve listed FOUR that could decide the outcome.
An enticing battle featuring two of the Premier League’s most promising talents.
The start to Anthony Martial’s Manchester United career, particularly in the Premier League, has been nothing short of emphatic, bagging three goals from just six shots on target since his £36million arrival from Monaco.
Equally important as his goal prowess is the France international’s blistering pace and power, providing the Red Devils with the penetrative threat they lack when deploying Wayne Rooney as the furthest forward.
Everton’s John Stones, however, has the potential to cancel that out. We all know how talented the 21 year-old is, catching the eyes of Chelsea and Barcelona to name a few, but his speed and agility will be particularly important when facing Martial on Saturday.
That being said, the Everton defender has just returned from injury after missing the international break, so he may enter the United fixture a little rusty.
We’re still yet to see a Premier League striker truly exploit Daley Blind’s limited physicality but it can surely only be a matter of time before the midfielder-come-defender endures a torrid afternoon at the hands of one of the division’s burliest centre-forwards.
Everton’s Romelu Lukaku is a pretty strong candidate. Not only does the Belgium international possess the power and height to dominate the Dutchman at the far post, measuring in at 6 foot 3, but he’s also particularly quick for a big man and could well run Blind into the ground on that front too.
Furthermore, the 22 year-old has a history against United, bagging a hat-trick for West Brom during Sir Alex Ferguson’s final match at the helm, and has been in particularly good form this season following an underwhelming 2014/15 campaign, netting five in his first eight league outings.
Of course, Blind has done a more than adequate job at centre-half so far this term and much of that has to do the protection of Chris Smalling – especially in the air. The England international must ensure he doesn’t let Lukaku isolate his centre-back partner.
Leighton Baines left incredibly large boots to fill when picking up an injury in August but 19 year-old Brendan Galloway has certainly done a good job filling them thus far, averaging 3.1 tackles and 1.6 interceptions per match during his seven Premier League outings.
Maintaining those defensive standards will be crucial against Manchester United, with the 6 foot 1 youngster facing arguably the Premier League’s most prolific right midfield threat at the moment in Spain international Juan Mata.
It’s by no means an ideal role for the playmaking maestro, but nonetheless he has found three goals and three assists in so far this term, leaving him top of the Red Devils’ charts for strikes and set ups. He’s also their most dependable creator, conjuring up on average two chances per match.
We all know how much the 27 year-old loves cutting inside, so communication between Galloway, centre-back Phil Jagielka and the midfield protector – likely Gareth Barry – is crucial.
Ross Barkley has been nothing short of phenomenal at the tip of the Toffees’ midfield this season, bagging two goals and three assists in eight appearances whilst averaging the most created chances and most successful dribbles – 2.1 and 2.6 respectively – of any Everton player.
The 21 year-old maintained his impressive form during the international break, scoring against Lithuania and assisting against Estonia, and is improving almost by the game at the moment.
But unfortunately for Manchester United, they’re enduring a bit of a crisis at the base of midfield. Bastian Schweinsteiger and Michael Carrick, who have shared the anchoring role between them this term, are both major doubts after picking up injuries on England and Germany duty respectively.
That suggests defensive responsibility in midfield will predominantly fall to Morgan Schneiderlin, who will have to be on top of his game to nullify Barkley’s relentless threat.
Imperative is stopping the Three Lions prodigy charging through the middle of the park with the ball at his feet, a recurring trait which has carved up plenty of Premier League defences already this season.