Louis van Gaal has been consistent in getting the big wins this season. A recent example would be when Manchester United kept their cup hopes alive by edging out West Ham United in a thrilling tie at Upton Park. It was easily one of United’s best team performances of the campaign, coming at just the right time for Van Gaal. However, if reports are to be believed, he could be well out on his way out of the club in the summer irrespective of how things turn out at this point. Although one defeat in eight in all competitions is a good sign, the fact is that the fans are tired of Van Gaal’s “philosophy”.
Roberto Martinez has been struggling with the way his team has been playing. Too many expectations rested on him as he took over from David Moyes. The Spaniard has since produced nothing but mediocrity in the view of supporters. The pressure is well and truly piling on Martinez heading into Saturday’s crunch FA Cup semi-final clash with United – arguably his biggest match as manager since winning this competition with Wigan Athletic in 2013.
Chris Smalling has declared himself fit for this final-four showdown after picking up a knock against Palace, but Bastian Schweinsteiger and Luke Shaw are definitely out. United will most probably continue with the same line-up that saw off Palace in a comfortable manner last time out, although Marcos Rojo, Marouane Fellaini and Memphis Depay will all be pushing for starts after missing out in that one. Januzaj remains out of contention.
Martinez has to deal with not only the pressure of the fans, but also the growing injury list. Gareth Barry and John Stones are both likely to play a part after being withdrawn against Liverpool through minor issues. Injured full-back Seamus Coleman will not play, meaning Bryan Oviedo filling in at right-back and Leighton Baines patrolling the opposite flank. Ramiro Funes Mori will not play this game after a straight red card for his challenge on Divock Origi.
• Romelu Lukaku is one of only four players to score a hat-trick against Man Utd in the Premier League (Dirk Kuyt, David Bentley and Samuel Eto’o are the other three).
• Lukaku has scored six goals in his last seven appearances for Everton in all competitions.
• Everton have scored with 18% of their shots at goal, making them the most clinical team in the top flight.
• The Red Devils are looking to record four successive home wins for the first time since April last year (six in a row).
• Manchester United’s win percentage in all competitions with Morgan Schneiderlin starting is 57%, compared to 35% without.
Head to Head
03/04/2016 Premier League 2015/2016 Manchester United 1 – 0 Everton
17/10/2015 Premier League 2015/2016 Everton 0 – 3 Manchester United
26/04/2015 Premier League 2014/2015 Everton 3 – 0 Manchester United
05/10/2014 Premier League 2014/2015 Manchester United 2 – 1 Everton
20/04/2014 Premier League 2013/2014 Everton 2 – 0 Manchester United
04/12/2013 Premier League 2013/2014 Manchester United 0 – 1 Everton
Manchester United – Anthony Martial
Martial tormented the Palace defence on the flanks, and he has been instrumental in a lot of Manchester United’s victories this season. He has been an unqualified success from the moment he made his eye-catching £36million move from Monaco and scored against Liverpool on debut. When analysed, his overall contribution to the team is a lot more than that of Cristiano Ronaldo at the same age, and he has also built up a great understanding with Rashford.
The Frenchman would rather play down the middle himself but is equally devastating down the left-hand side, where he would always look for Rashford’s runs. Martial has been United’s best outfield player in nearly every game he has played this season and having Rooney will be a perk.
Everton – Romelu Lukaku
Lukaku in particular has caught the eye, with an impressive 25 goals so far in all competitions, 18 of which have come in the Premier League. That tally leaves him third on top scorers list in the division, as he competes for the Golden Boot against Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy of Leicester City. He has been in impressive form this season, despite the Blues’ struggles in the Premier League. Lukaku excels particularly when Everton counter-attack, and the game against Manchester United will be a big one. He will be looking to get a few goals in to boost his tally further.
The expected result is likely to be a 2-1 victory for Manchester United.