Manchester United seem to be the most likely to join Manchester City in the title race, given their position in the table and recent performances. They welcome Everton to Old Trafford on Saturday and they will be looking to take the momentum from their record-equalling victory over Southampton. The position at the top of the division will become clearer following this round of fixtures, as Manchester City and Liverpool face each other. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be hoping that his team can increase the pressure on the league leaders on Saturday and hope for a favour from the current champions on Sunday.
The home side are three points behind their local rivals having played a game more. There isn’t much room for error if they are to challenge for the title, but there isn’t much pressure on them. Solskjaer will be making it clear behind the scenes that it is important to pick up three points this weekend, as there may be an opportunity to close the gap on Manchester City. They won at Goodison Park earlier this season, but Everton are a tough opposition under Carlo Ancelotti. They will need to perform at their best to beat the Toffees.
Everton haven’t been able to maintain their early season form, as they have dropped points in matches where few would have expected them to. There remains an inconsistency within the squad, but that is to be expected as they are still developing under Ancelotti. That said, they are in 6th position with games in hand over the majority of teams around them. Their manager has been one of the very best in European football in the 21st century. He won’t accept mediocrity and he will be pushing his players to qualify for European football next season. For them to achieve that, they need to show improvement against their rivals at the top of the division. This is an opportunity to record a landmark victory and they will be hoping to take it.
Manchester United became the second side to have seven different scorers in a single Premier League game during the week. The first was Chelsea against Aston Villa in December 2012.
Everton have won four successive away league matches for the first time since 1985.
It has been a quiet spell for Bruno Fernandes in recent weeks, but he returned to form on Tuesday with a goal and two assists. This will have increased his confidence and he will be relishing his role in Manchester United’s title challenge. There is no doubting that he is the key player for Solskjaer and he has form in this fixture. In the match at Goodison Park, the Portuguese international scored twice and assisted the other in a 3-1 victory. Everton have shown a frailness at the back, as they have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last five Premier League matches. This should give Manchester United confidence that they can cause them problems, especially after scoring nine times against Southampton. At times this season, there has been a hesitancy in attack if things don’t go well to start with. The performance and result during the week will have increased the confidence significantly. This season, Fernandes has contributed 12 goals and nine assists already in the Premier League. He is set for an excellent season and could be the second player to reach 10 for both. Everton will know that he is the danger man, but every team is aware of that. The difficult thing is to stop him.
After a blistering start to the season, goals have dried up of late for Dominic Calvert-Lewin. However, he returned to scoring ways against Leeds United, as he scored what was ultimately the winning goal in the match. He could have had more on another day, as he missed four shots on target and missed one big chance. Everton will be hoping that this will be the beginning of another good run of form for the striker, as he has been a streaky player under the management of Ancelotti. Manchester United are a better team, but they can be troubled at the back. They will concede chances against a good Everton team. However, they will also create them. For the visitors to get something from the game, they will need to take their chances. Calvert-Lewin will be looking to add to his 12 Premier League goals.
Edinson Cavani picked up an injury against Southampton and he was withdrawn early to protect him. It isn’t expected to be serious, but they may play it safe and leave him out against Everton. The imminent return of European football means that Solskjaer needs to protect his players and manage the squad well.
It is expected that Jordan Pickford will be back for the weekend, but midfielder Allan remains a doubt. The Brazilian is expected back soon, but he is not likely to be risked against Manchester United.
Manchester United will have belief that they can push Manchester City and challenge for the title. For them to do that, they need to be merciless on the pitch and continue to win matches. They have slipped up at home recently against Sheffield United and another result like that will put a major dent into their hopes. Everton are a good team, especially away from home, as shown by four successive wins on the road. However, Solskjaer’s team will be full of confidence following their 9-0 win against Southampton and they should have the quality to record another home win.
Manchester United 2-1 Everton