Everton welcome Manchester United on Monday night, in front of the Sky cameras, with both sides sporting contrasting opening day records. The home side are without a win in four years with United unbeaten on the opening day since 2004.
How the Sides Ended Last Season
David Moyes’ side will look to kick on from last season. Ending the season with just three defeats in 23, Everton are unbeaten in nine league outings. Everton’s resurgent home form was vital to their end of season revival. With six clean sheets in their last eight at home, the Toffees became a tough nut to crack.
Everton’s last 13 home games have yielded 10 wins and a solitary defeat. During that time, Everton scored 25, conceding just five. Comparatively, Manchester United’s away form was as impressive with Alex Ferguson’s side picked up 42 points on the road; the leagues’ best return. United also finished with the league’s best conversion rate (19%) and shooting accuracy (52%).
Known for their slow starts, Everton will need to improve their recent record against Manchester United. With one win in their last 14 meetings, Everton have recorded just three home wins over United in the last 20 years. However, Everton can draw comfort from recent meetings; in the last two seasons, United have thrown away two-goal leads in the last 10 minutes.
Both sides have strengthened over the summer. Surplus players have exited Goodison with Steven’s Pienaar and Naismith joining. Kevin Mirallas boosts the squad further, his £6million move from Olympiakos now confirmed. The Red Devils have signed Robin Van Persie, Nick Powell and Shinji Kagawa, whilst Michael Owen, Park Ji-Sung, Fabio and Paul Pogba have moved on.
Despite possible doubts, earlier in the week, Everton have a fully fit squad. Manchester United will be without several defenders with Phil Jones (back), Johnny Evans and Chris Smalling (both foot) sidelined. With Rafael recovering from Olympic duty, Antonio Valencia may fill in at right back, whilst Darren Fletcher remains sidelined for the near future.
How Does Van Persie Compare to United’s Other Strikers?
Using last season’s statistics, results suggest Robin van Persie will be an important player for United. Further evidence lies in key areas, as Van Persie has the edge over his new teammates on the goals, assists and chances front.
Danny Welbeck would seem more suited to a withdrawn role. With the lowest minutes: goal ratio and the worst chance conversion rate, finishing is not his strong point. However, he boasts the best passing accuracy and very good chance creation stats. Playing slightly deeper, off the main striker, may help Welbeck in the long-term.
Despite a bit part role, Dimitar Berbatov still managed the team’s best conversion rate (47%) with seven goals in his 512 minutes. United’s other striker, Javier Hernandez, struggled for form and fitness last season. Although, many would be proud of 10 goals and 2 assists from less than 1,500 minutes of action.
Unsurprisingly, upon closer inspection, it is clear that Van Persie and Rooney are very similar with the same shooting accuracy and minutes per shot ratio, Van Persie has the edge in goals but Rooney holds the better minutes: goal ratio.
Van Persie will add undoubted quality to the visitors attack. Despite that, a fee upwards of £20million is a lot of money, especially for an injury prone 29-year-old. Whether they need him or not, remains up for debate. Time will tell in that regard and Van Persie will look to prove any doubters wrong, starting with Monday.
Reasons for Everton to be Positive
Everton have a full back of the highest quality. Baines excels in attack, a fact easily shown in last season’s creativity table. Finishing in 11th place, the left back was Everton’s most creative player (67 chances). A glance at the names below Baines show just how influential the left back is.
Fellaini is one of the league’s most underrated midfielders. Often awkward and sometimes clumsy, there is no denying the Belgian’s ability. Effective in a number of roles, Fellaini excels in front of the back four.Finishing each of his last seven-league games with a 100% tackle success rate, Fellaini has not last a tackle since 31st March.
Last season, Fellaini made 34 appearances and achieved a 100% tackle success rate in 20. With a success rate of 84.85% from 99 tackles, Fellaini was also the league’s second most accurate tackler behind Mauro Formica (85.9% from 78).
Striker Comparison – Nikica Jelavic v Wayne Rooney
Pitting last season’s second and third best defences against each other, this could be a game of few chances. Fortunately, for the respective managers, each side boasts a prolific front man. In terms of minutes per goal, Wayne Rooney and Nikica Jelavic were the third and fourth best strikers in 11/12.
Despite only signing in February, Jelavic compares favourably to his more established counterpart. Rooney edges the minute: goal ratio by a mere 1 minute 18 seconds whilst both have a shooting accuracy of 58%. Jelavic leads the way in chance conversion with 6% advantage over Rooney.
Under the floodlights, the home fans will attempt to roar Moyes’ men to victory. However, buoyed by last season’s imperious away record, United will be confident of all three points.
Either way, with Van Persie making his début and Rooney returning to his boyhood club, Goodison Park will transform into a cauldron of noise; there are few finer atmospheres than a night match at Goodison Park.
14 – Wayne Rooney’s goal tally in his last 14 league games
16 – Manchester United headed goals in 11/12 – a league high
27 – League games since Darron Gibson was on the losing side
184 – Consecutive league appearances by Tim Howard – a new PL record; Howard surpasses Pepe Reina’s 183
5,000 – Everton’s current top-flight points total