One thousand, not out! On the occasion that is the site’s 1000th article, Everton visit Old Trafford on Sunday amid a minor crisis of sorts that has seen the club endure consecutive premier league defeats as well as defeat in the Europa league on Thursday to Italian side Atalanta.
In selling Romelu Lukaku and bringing in no less than 9 new players, Ronald Koeman pulled off something akin to what Spurs did when they sold Gareth Bale to Real Madrid and replaced him with quantity rather than quality. In mitigation, it can be argued that the toffees have had a baptism of fire of an opening of the new campaign. The opening day victory over Stoke has been followed by games against Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur with United looming large over the weekend. A summer spending spree that involves that many players usually requires that a team is afforded a couple of months at least to bed in and perhaps this might be the best time of the season for anyone to come up against this Everton team.
United themselves returned to winning ways in the Champions League in mid-week but their set back at Stoke last weekend somewhat punctured the feeling of invincibility that was growing among fans. Suddenly the central defensive partnership of Bailly and Jones is not without documented fault and you can bet your house Everton will have looked at how Stoke went about their job as a possible ticket to a result.
Being at Old Trafford should make for a world of difference though. United will be without Paul Pogba feasibly for the rest of the September schedule but are blessed with such midfield riches that the games in that period shouldn’t be beyond the means of the available playing personnel. Ander Herrera and Michael Carrick for instance have barely got a look in whilst Marouanne Fellaini has been effective if not pretty whenever he has been called upon. Nemanja Matic is the one you cannot quite pick out a replacement for in the team and therefore Pogba’s absence should be absorbed by the available resources. Daley Blind will probably be preferred ahead of Matteo Darmian whilst whether Rashford, Mata or Martial play will come down to a managerial toss of the coin.
In all probability, United will kickoff this game off the top of the table for the first time since the start of the season. Having set the pace so far, that reality will come with some pressure added to a fixture in which we dropped two precious points last season. There is also the side-plot featuring Wayne Rooney back at the club and Romelu Lukaku up against his former employers. They say football has a weird sense of humour but you hope Sunday falls pretty much according to script.
The positive vibe around the club took a hit last week. It’s imperative that we get the mood upright again domestically.