Manchester United will look to make it four wins in a row across all competitions when they face Everton at Old Trafford on Sunday.
The Red Devils pulled off impressive 2-1 wins over Tottenham and Manchester City in their previous two Premier League matches, following that up with a 4-0 thrashing of AZ Alkmaar in the Europa League on Thursday night.
In Everton, they’ll face a side high on confidence after beating Chelsea 3-1 during Duncan Ferguson’s first game in charge as interim manager following the sacking of Marco Silva.
Can Man Utd take another step toward the Premier League top four, or can Ferguson inspire more magic from the Toffees?
Read on for our preview, predictions, team news and TV coverage information.
When is Man Utd vs Everton and where can I watch live?
Competition: Premier League
Venue: Old Trafford
Date: Sunday, 15 December 2019
Kick-off: 2:00 PM (UK time)
TV coverage (UK): Sky Sports Main Event & Sky Sports Premier League
Last five meetings: Man Utd vs Everton
21 Apr 2019: Everton 4-0 Manchester United (Premier League)
28 Oct 2018: Manchester United 2-1 Everton (Premier League)
01 Jan 2018: Everton 0-2 Manchester United (Premier League)
17 Sep 2017: Manchester United 4-0 Everton (Premier League)
04 Apr 2017: Manchester United 1-1 Everton (Premier League)
Aggregate Score: Man Utd (LWWWD) 9-6 Everton (WLLLD)
Ones to watch
Man Utd: Marcus Rashford
After years of living on the edge of brilliance, Marcus Rashford has finally exploded into life this season and, in recent months especially, has been Man Utd’s best player.
The England international has thrived when cutting in from the left-hand side and it’ll certainly be interesting to see how Djibril Sidibe handles Rashford on Sunday.
Key stat: Rashford has 10 goals in 16 Premier League games this season, equalling his career-best haul from 2018/19 when it took him 33 games.
Everton: Djibril Sidibe
Sidibe bounced back from a tough Merseyside derby with a wonderful performance during last week’s win over Chelsea, getting stuck into challenges and providing a genuine outlet down the right for Ferguson’s side.
The Frenchman has generally impressed during his loan spell so far but will face a really tough afternoon up against an in-form Rashford.
Key stat: Sidibe made more tackles (9) and interceptions (4) than any other player during Everton’s win over Chelsea.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will have to carry on without Paul Pogba, who is yet to recover from an ankle injury, while Eric Bailly, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Marcos Rojo remain sidelined.
Diogo Dalot is nearing a return to fitness but remains doubtful, while Jesse Lingard is touch and go after picking up a knock.
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Jean-Philippe Gbamin and Andre Gomes are long-term absentees, while Fabian Delph is still doubtful with a thigh problem.
Lucas Digne, Yerry Mina, Seamus Coleman and Theo Walcott are all doubts but should be fit to make the squad.
How Everton could line-up to exploit Solskjaer’s “bullying problem”
Taking six points from Tottenham and Man City is hugely impressive, but when those results come on the back of just two points against Sheffield United and Aston Villa, it’s clear to see why Man Utd are struggling to re-establish themselves among the elite. Fans are understandably frustrated at this lack of consistency and would likely prefer their club to start dominating those middling sides to take a greater share of the points.
For all their investment and ambition, results and performances show Everton are just one of those sides United fans want their team to put away. Duncan Ferguson will be well aware the Red Devils are at their most dangerous on the break, so, how could he line-up his Everton side to restrict the space and frustrate the Old Trafford faithful?
Against Chelsea, Ferguson set Everton up in a 4-4-2 formation, but rather than sitting in a deep, low block, he instructed his forwards and wingers to close down the opposition and disrupt their passing rhythms. That said, their pressing line was still quite deep and if Chelsea did manage to break past Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, the Toffees stayed compact to account for a lack of mobility in the middle of midfield.
Heading to Old Trafford, Everton are more likely to drop their line toward their own box in an effort to restrict the space behind their defence and limit the effectiveness of Rashford, Anthony Martial and Daniel James. In Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison and Alex Iwobi, they have enough pace and creativity to hurt the Red Devils on their own counter-attacks, as long as they’re brave and disciplined enough to soak up pressure — United tend to run out of ideas very quickly when their space is restricted so the rewards could be huge for Everton here.
Tempting Everton out is the key for Man Utd
Unlike against Spurs and City, Solskjaer will have to accept that Everton will concede a huge share of possession to United as they attempt to remain disciplined and organised in defence. So, United simply must find a way to use that possession to drag Everton players out of position and force their defensive line forward.
The former is going to require fluid movement between United’s front three, as well as fielding a player at No.10 whose main strength is making late runs and drifting into space — with Everton most likely playing in a 4-4-2, United could use this area of the pitch to create overloads and defensive confusion.
The latter will require patience with the ball, but also a much quicker passing tempo than the Red Devils are normally used to. Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof are going to have to be confident with their passing, being sure to break lines as much as possible to force Everton into confrontations they wouldn’t normally want to be in and create numerical superiority further forward, while the roles Fred and Scott McTominay will be important.
Fred hasn’t covered himself in too much glory throughout the course of his Old Trafford career and can often be guilty of too many unforced errors. However, if he and McTominay can shift the ball from side to side quickly, it could create gaps to pass into the final third through, as well as tempt the Everton line out to play over the top to United’s lightning-fast forwards.
Everton looked like a totally different side against Chelsea but despite all their tenacity and aggression, they cannot go the whole season surrendering that much possession and coming under that much pressure.
United have won their last three games, including impressive wins over Spurs and City, and should have too much for the Toffees at home — but don’t expect it to be easy.
Scoreline prediction: Man Utd 2-1 Everton