Manchester United vs Everton Preview: Blues facing tough United test following disastrous midweek defeat

A preview of Everton’s trip to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United.

Manchester United vs Everton Preview: Blues facing tough United test following disastrous midweek defeat
Wayne Rooney during Everton's midweek defeat to Atlanta. (Photo: Nicolo Campo/Getty)

Ronald Koeman’s Everton team travel across the M62 to face off against Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United, looking for their first win in five games.

The Blues suffered an extremely disappointing defeat away at Atalanta in the Europa League during the week and the trip to Old Trafford doesn’t make their current run any easier to break.

Mourinho’s side are unbeaten to start this Premier League season and picked up a comfortable 3-0 win over FC Basel in the Champions League on Tuesday night.

The game also sees the return of two strikers to their former clubs. Wayne Rooney will make his return to Old Trafford in Everton blue whilst Romelu Lukaku will line-up against his former teammates in United red.

When the teams met in this fixture last season, a late Zlatan Ibrahimovic goal secured a point for Mourinho’s side and saved their blushes after Phil Jagielka netted in the first half for the traveling Toffees.

In Focus: Dealing with Romelu Lukaku

Everton know all about Romelu Lukaku. The striker who joined the Blues from Chelsea, initially on loan prior to the 2013/14 season, became the club’s record signing under Roberto Martinez when he joined permanently the following summer.

The Belgian spent four seasons at Goodison Park prior to his sale to United during this summer’s transfer window, for a fee that could reach £90 million pounds.

It’s a top-level fee for a top level player.

During his time on Merseyside, Lukaku racked up 68 goals in 141 games and won Everton’s player of the year last season. Such was Lukaku’s impact during his time on Merseyside, Koeman’s side are yet to find a true replacement for him.

Despite his shortcomings in some aspects of his game, the Blues will continue to find it difficult to replace the 24-year-old as he’s a truly world-class forward.

Lukaku was Everton’s first 20 goals a season striker in the Premier League since Tony Cottee and dragged the Blues through multiple games with his ability to put the fear into defensive backlines.

Even though he may be six foot two in height and possesses a physical stature, Lukaku isn’t, and won’t be, the prototypical target men some continue to label him as.

His first touch and ability to consistently influence games with his work rate may come into question at times yet his goal scoring ability is unrivaled and unquestionable.

He’s going to give his former side a tough test on Sunday.

A look at: Manchester United

Mourinho’s United side are unbeaten and sit second behind Manchester City in the Premier League, with their rivals having played one game more. A win over Everton would see them join City at the top of the table, level on points.

Under the Portuguese boss, United looked to have clicked into place and taken their game to the next level this season. The Red Devils did complete a treble last season - winning the Community Shield, League Cup and Europa League - but a return to Premier League superiority remains elusive.

The 20-time league champions seemingly look like title contenders again under Mourinho.

However, they’ll be without Paul Pogba after he picked up a hamstring injury during the Champions League win over Basel during the week.

Probable line-ups

United: De Gea, Valencia, Bailly, Jones, Blind, Matic, Fellaini, Mkhitaryan, Martial, Rashford and Lukaku.

Everton: Pickford, Holgate, Keane, Jagielka, Williams, Baines, Gueye, Schneiderlin, Sigurdsson, Rooney and Sandro.

Match Day Stats:

1. Ronald Koeman has won two of his last three games against Manchester United at Old Trafford and picked up a 1-1 draw last season with Everton.

2. United are unbeaten in 32 home matches in all competitions, winning 21.

3. Everton have only won one Premier League away match in 2017.