Manchester United return to Premier League action on Sunday afternoon, as the Red Devils will host Everton at Old Trafford.
For the first time all season, United are in stellar form, and the pressure will be on to keep the good times rolling.
Their last three results have all been superb. The run started with a midweek matchup versus Tottenham Hotspur, led by former manager Jose Mourinho. Many were reporting that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would be fired if he failed to win, but United managed to save his job.
Marcus Rashford gave the Red Devils the lead after only five minutes, but Dele Alli was able to equalize on the stroke of halftime. Rashford would find the back of the net once again, however, slotting home a penalty to seal the three points for United.
Then came the Manchester Derby, where United’s number 10 would convert another penalty. The Red Devils doubled their advantage only a few moments later, as Anthony Martial drilled a low shot into the bottom corner. City got one back near full time, with Nicolas Otamendi heading home a corner, but United were able to paint Manchester red on the night.
Their most recent victory came in the Europa League, as they blew out AZ Alkmaar to clinch top spot in Group F. Ashely Young broke the deadlock before a brace from Mason Greenwood and a penalty from Juan Mata sealed the result, sending the Old Trafford crowd home happy.
Everton also come into this weekend’s contest on the heels of a massive victory. After yet another loss in the Merseyside Derby, they sacked manager Marco Silva, bringing in club legend Duncan Ferguson on a temporary basis.
He got off to a winning start to life at Goodison Park, as Everton beat Chelsea 3-1 to dig themselves out of the relegation zone.
Richarlison headed home after only five minutes, and Dominic Calvert-Lewin also found the back of the net only five minutes into the second half. Fans were worried when Mateo Kovacic halved the deficit, but Calvert-Lewin scored another to seal all three points for the Toffees.
Last time out
It was United’s darkest day under Solskjaer the last time these two sides faced off, as they were smashed 4-0 by Everton at Goodison Park.
It all started when Richarlison pounced on a loose ball in the area, poking home to give the Toffees the lead on the afternoon. The would score another after only 15 minutes, as Gylfi Sigurdsson carried the ball up the field before rifling a low shot past the outstretched arms of David De Gea.
United tried to get back into the contest, but they only conceded even more goals. It would be three soon after the start of the second half, with Lucas Digne smashing a volley into the side netting after the Red Devils failed to clear a corner.
Theo Walcott would grab one more for Everton before the day was done, flying through on the counter attack before slotting home to make it 4-0.
It was a result that killed any momentum the Red Devils had at that point in the season, and ultimately played a huge part in United finishing outside the top four.
Things have gotten better for the Red Devils on the injury front, but they’ll still be without a number of players on Sunday.
Jesse Lingard picked up a knock in the Manchester Derby last week, and might not be back in time to feature versus Everton.
He’s doubtful, while the trio of Paul Pogba, Eric Bailly, and Timothy Fosu-Mensah have all been confirmed as out for this weekend. There is some good news for them, at least, as Solskjaer said that they should be back in training in the coming weeks.
Everton have had less luck on the other hand. Theo Walcott was forced off in the win over Chelsea, and is unlikely to feature versus United.
Meanwhile, Seamus Coleman, Fabian Delph, and Yerry Mina have just returned to training, so Sunday will come too soon for all of them.
Their biggest worry is with star left back Lucas Digne, who’s dealing with an injury of his own, but the club are hopeful he’ll be able to recover in time.
Manchester United: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, McTominay, Fred, James, Andreas, Rashford, Martial
Everton: Pickford, Sidibe, Keane, Holgate, Baines, Iwobi, Schneiderlin, Sigurdsson, Bernard, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin
What to watch for
No room to counter
United have proven they can beat the big clubs on the counter, but there are still doubts on whether they can break down a team parking the bus.
They’ll be tested once again on Sunday, as Everton will sit back and absorb pressure before flying forward on the break when given the chance.
The Red Devils will be given plenty of possession, but the difficulty will come when they have to do something with it.
If United want to genuinely challenge for top four, then they have to consistently win games like this. If not, then they’ll be doomed to midtable mediocrity until something changes.