Manchester United host Everton in what is going to be one of the matches of the weekend, as it features a number of interesting sub-plots. It will be the first time Wayne Rooney returns to Old Trafford after leaving for his boyhood club during the summer, while Romelu Lukaku will be coming up against his former club for the first time. They were two of the most notable transfers of the recent transfer window and it will be fascinating to see if either can have an impact on the game. The home side are unbeaten in their last five matches against the Toffees and they will enter the match as the favourites.
Jose Mourinho’s team have had an impressive start to the season as he tries to maintain his impressive record of winning a league title in his second season with a club. He has done it throughout his managerial career, but it would be one of his best achievements to date if he was to do it with Manchester United. They remain a side in transition, but they are quickly making progress and picked up an impressive victory during the week as they returned to Champions League action. This is arguably their most difficult fixture to date and we will learn a lot about the team based on this performance.
Everton had one of the most active transfer windows as they made several big-money signings, but it can be argued that they ended the summer with a worse team. They failed to adequately replace Lukaku up front and that could prove to be a huge mistake in the long run. During the week, they fell to a big defeat in the Europa League to Atalanta. The Toffees conceded three times in the first half and looked a million miles away from being the side that many thought they could be. Confidence levels will be at an all-time low heading into this weekend.
Paul Pogba will be missing for the next few weeks after picking up a hamstring injury during the week. Ander Herrera could be the player to come into the team for him. Luke Shaw could be available for the first time this season, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic remains on the treatment table.
Everton have no fresh injury concerns, but they may choose to make changes after a disappointing week. Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Ademola Lookman are both in contention to start at Old Trafford.
Manchester United have won 18 and lost only once in their last 24 Premier League home matches against Everton. Furthermore, they are unbeaten at Old Trafford in their last 32 matches across all competitions.
Everton have only managed to have seven goal attempts on target this season, which is the lowest total of any team in the Premier League.
The pressure on Lukaku has increased since he signed for Manchester United. It was a clear step-up from Everton, but he has adapted well and has already made a positive impression in the first team. The 24-year-old has scored four Premier League goals and managed to get on the score-sheet in their Champions League match against Basle. He has improved Mourinho’s side as he offers more dynamism and mobility that Zlatan Ibrahimovic did last season. There were doubts regarding how he would adjust to the move, but he has taken it in his stride and has emerged as a top-six calibre player. It will be a good occasion for him to go up against his former club and he will be looking to have a positive impact on the game. Everton are a team that are lacking in confidence after a poor start and their former striker has the ability to take advantage of that. Another goal for the Belgian this weekend is a real possibility.
It has been a mixed start to the season for Rooney as he has scored a couple of Premier League goals, but has also managed to get involved in a controversy off the pitch. This will be a good opportunity for him as he is a club legend for Manchester United and he will no doubt receive a good reception as he returns to Old Trafford for the first time. Although he no longer possesses the dynamism and unpredictability that he once did, he remains a very good player. Rooney is capable of impacting matches against the big teams, as he showed earlier this season with a goal against Manchester City. Everton are clearly missing the goals of Lukaku, but in Rooney, they have a player that won’t shy away from the pressure. He may not be a striker that will score upwards of 20 goals, but he can contribute. His former club will be wary of him and he will cause problems on Sunday.
Manchester United are a team that look dangerous and capable of challenging for the title this season. Meanwhile, Everton lack an identity after making several changes to their squad during the summer. The home side are the favourites and for good reason. The loss of Paul Pogba could affect them, as he has been one of their standout players during the first few matches of the season. However, they should have enough to take the three points. Romelu Lukaku has been excellent so far and this is a great opportunity for him to be the match-winner against his former team. They should take the three points on Sunday and if they do, they will reaffirm their potential to challenge for the league title.