Today’s game comes from Goodison Park, where the focus will be two-fold. How will Everton fans react to David Moyes’ first visit back to the club he managed for over a decade? And can the home-side get back on track in the race for a Champions’s League spot?
Roberto Martinez’ side fell to a 3-2 defeat to Crystal Palace in midweek which leaves them a four points behind fourth placed Arsenal, albeit with a game in hand. The Toffees beat United 1-0 at Old Trafford in December, and a win today would give them their first league double over the Manchester side in over 40 years.
United, for all the criticism aimed at them this season, have the best away record in the league. They have lost only four of their 17 games on the road. They are looking for a fifth successive away win today, which would help them in their bid for European football next season. They lie seventh, six points behind Spurs but with a better goal difference and two games in hand.
Everton will be hoping Romelu Lukaku can come up with a goal or two today. Last time he played a game at home against United, he was playing at the Hawthorns for West Brom on the last day of last season. In Alex Ferguson’s last game in charge, the Belgian international helped himself to a hat-trick in a crazy 5-5 draw. Ferguson’s successor will hope the United defence holds firmer today.
While Moyes did an excellent job with limited resources during his time at Everton, fans on Merseyside have been privy to a prettier style of football this year. The Toffees have not suffered as a result of Moyes leaving, but the work the Scot did during his time at the club shouldn’t escape supporters at Goodison this afternoon.
Everton: Howard (c), Baines, Distin, Stones, Coleman, McCarthy, Barry, Mirallas, Barkley, Naismith, Lukaku. Subs: Robles, Hibbert, McGeady, Deulofeu, Osman, Garbutt, Alcaraz.
Man Utd: De Gea, Jones, Smalling, Evans, Büttner, Carrick, Fletcher, Nani, Kagawa, Mata, Rooney. Subs: Lindegaard, Giggs, Hernandez, Welbeck, Valencia, Fellaini, Januzaj.
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Full time thoughts: A dominant performance from Everton and they keep the momentum up in their chase for Champions League football. There was less of the intricate passing that has been a key trait of the side this season, but a combination of fast counter attacks and long balls to Lukaku were equally as effective against a lacklustre United.
It was an unhappy return to Goodison Park for David Moyes, and his side simply didn’t do enough to trouble Everton today. There was little imagination on show when it came to trying to find a way past a solid home defence. There is nothing really left for United to play for this season, and their fans will be counting down the days until the transfer window opens and new players can be brought in. It remains to be seen if Moyes will be the man trusted with splashing the cash, however.
93 mins – Substitution. Aiden McGeady gets a few second as he replaces Kevin Mirallas for Everton.
91 mins – Smalling has remained in an advanced position and Wayne Rooney finds him with a perfectly weighted cross from the right. The defender should do better, failing to find the target with a header from close range.
90 mins – 4 minutes added on at the end of the 90.
89 mins – Seamus Coleman gets the seal of approval from former right back Gary Neville. The Sky Sports pundit names the Donegal defender his man of the match. Well deserved.
87 mins – Chance! Rooney gets himself one on one with Tim Howard but the keeper saves well. First real chance of the afternoon for United.
86 mins – Mata gets the ball in space but plays an ill-advised ball to Hernandez behind the Everton defence. He should have realised the Mexican was offside. Lazy play from the Mexican.
81 mins – Mirallas nutmegs Fletcher and wins a free for obstruction. Everton well on top and look increasingly comfortable with the minutes tick away.
80 mins – Coleman again finds space down the right and finds Lukaku on the penalty spot. His shot is blocked away for a corner.
78 mins – Chance! Everton have a numbers advantage as they break from deep. Coleman releases Naismith and his low drive from just outside the box forces a superb save from De Gea who got down quickly to his left.
76 mins – Chance! A cross from the right finds Naismith who has lost his marker Valencia. The chance is a little difficult as the ball is slightly behind him as he connects but he still should have hit the target.
75 mins – Smalling concedes a corner under pressure which comes to nothing for the home side. However Everton are definitely on top as we reach the last quarter of an hour.
74 mins – Substitution. Last throw of the dice for Moyes as he brings on Welbeck for Kagawa.
71 mins – United have passed the ball almost double the amount of times Everton have this afternoon. 445 to 225. Unusual for a Martinez team to be outpassed at home but they’ve still been more clinical with the possession they’ve had. United still haven’t really created a clear cut chance.
69 mins – Substitution for Everton as Ross Barkley is replaced by Leon Osman. The youngster has put in a good shift at the left of midfield today, although he would more than likely have preferred a more advanced role. It’s all about the collective cause for Everton however, and Osman will contribute solidity in the last twenty minutes or so.
67 mins – Offside called against Mata as he attempts to get on the end of a dinked cross from Kagawa. Howard punches clear in any case.
66 mins – Wonderful powerful run from Ross Barkley as he thunders through the United defence. He’s forced wide however and his shot from a difficult angle fails to trouble De Gea.
64 mins – McCarthy might feel aggrieved after Rooney escapes a caution for the same sort of tackle on the Everton midfielder.
63 mins – Fletcher, in a central position shoots horribly wide after some inventive build up play down the left from Hernandez.
61 mins – Lukaku shoots straight at De Gea after latching onto a through ball.
60 mins – Substitutions for United. Valencia and Hernandez come on for Evans and Nani. Valencia goes to right back with Chris Smalling joining Phil Jones in United’s central defence.
59 mins – Yellow card for James McCarthy for a sturdy tackle on Mata. The Irish international gets the ball but his trailing leg takes a decent chunk of Mata.
56 mins – Alcaraz rises highest from a Baines corner but can only head straight at De Gea.
52 mins – Baines trips Nani on the edge of the box. Mata’s free kick strikes the wall and Everton clear.
50 mins – Coleman another long run from the Everton defence. He gets inside the box to take a shot but can’t find the target.
49 mins – Smalling gets a yellow card for coming out the better of a 50/50 with Barry.
47 mins – Kagawa stings the hands of Howard with a long range effort. The keeper gathers at the second attempt.
45 mins – First chance of the half for Rooney. The striker finds himself in possession close to the Everton goal but he can’t make enough room to get the shot away.
17:12 – Second half begins. Alcaraz replaces Distin in Everton’s first substitution. No changes yet for United.
Half time thoughts: Everton may not have had the majority of the possession in the first half but they have made the most of the ball when they’ve had it. Seamus Coleman has been a constant threat down the right, with neither Kagawa or Buttner able to keep tabs on him. Kevin Mirallas has worked tirelessly down the right flank for the home side, tracking back on numerous occasions. The home side have created chances too with simple long balls over the top, where Evans and Jones have struggled to deal with Romelu Lukaku.
United have kept the ball well in the middle third, but they just haven’t been able to find a way through the tight Everton defence. Crosses from either side have yielded few positive results, and maybe Wayne Rooney needs to stay closer to goal rather than dropping back into an already crowded midfield.
In the second half as United chase the game, Everton will have more chances to break with the speed of Coleman in particular a key asset. It’s set up to be an unhappy return to Goodison Park for David Moyes.
45 mins – A Rooney corner ricochets off Gareth Barry and into the arms of Howard. That’s the last meaningful action of the half and the teams leave the field.
42 mins – GOAL! Mirallas. Juan Mata takes Baines out of it witha late tackle. Clattenburg plays advantage as Everton advance with the ball. Coleman has the time to pick out Mirallas with a fine through ball which the winger dispatches low across De Gea into the far corner. Everton fans using the medium of song to question whether David Moyes is viewing the game.
38 mins – The home side were almost in again. They break from the midfield but Mirallas slips at the edge of the box before they can take full advantage of a 3 v 3 situation.
35 mins – Everton have created 7 chances to United’s one so far. Intricate interplay down the right between Coleman, Naismith and Mirallas almost results in chance number 8 for Lukaku. The Belgian can’t get on the end of Mirallas’ cross.
32 mins – United have had a lot of possession in this first half, but the majority of it has been in the middle of the park. The away side lacking a cutting edge so far.
30 mins – Yellow card for Phil Jones for the handball by the way.
26 mins – PENALTY! Third time lucky for Everton. The home side break and Lukaku lets off a shot from the edge of the box. Phil Jones dives to block and the ball clearly hits his hand. Leighton Baines takes the penalty and drives it straight down the middle to keep his 100% scoring record from the spot this season. 1-0 Everton.
21 mins – Big chance for Everton! Lukaku does extremely well under pressure from two defenders to head a ball into the path of the unmarked Naismith. He had enough time to take a touch but puts his first time shot well over.
18 mins – Another shout for handball but referee Mark Clattenburg having none of it. A snapshot from Naismith hit Johnny Evans on the elbow as he dives to block it but again there was little he could do. No complaints from Everton players in any case.
17 mins – Nice diagonal ball from Rooney finds Smalling at the byline. He manages to pull the ball back across the box, but Howard gathers easily.
15 mins – Shouts from Everton fans for a handball as Chris Smalling tussles with Lukaku in the box. Looked to hit the defenders hand but he didn’t seem to know much about it.
14 mins – Nani, Kagawa and Mata showing some nice passing and movement in tandem early on for Manchester United.
10 mins – Seamus Coleman is the player most likely to make an impact so far. His runs down the right have been Everton’s best outlet in the first ten minutes.
8 mins – A Coleman cross eventually makes its way to Barkley. He blasts his left footed half-volley well over the bar.
7 mins – Fairly even in the opening minutes. Neither side able to make progress beyond the middle third.
2 mins – First rampaging run from Seamus Coleman. The Donegal native glides past Kagawa and Buttner before mis-hitting his cross.
1 min – Chris Smalling is at right back for Manchester United. Phil Jones starts in the centre of defence.
16:10 – And they’re off!
16:08 – Moyes gets booed by a sizeable portion of the home fans as he emerges from the tunnel.
16:07 – Teams are out on the field. Minutes to kick-off.
16:05 – Nani in the Manchester United side today. Moyes must be hoping the Portuguese winger can keep one of the Everton full-backs quiet. Coleman and Baines have ten goals between them this season.
16:00 – After Arsenal’s convincing 3-0 win away at Hull, the onus is now on Everton to get a win and keep up the pressure on the Gunners. Two Podolski goals after Aaron Ramsey’s opener leaves Arsenal four points ahead of Everton with a game more played.
15:40 – Marouane Fellaini only makes the bench on his return to Everton, following his £27.5m move to Old Trafford on transfer deadline day last September.