Ahead of gameweek 17, Manchester United sit in fifth-place and five points away from the top four positions as they take on an Everton side that are looking to turnaround their season with a new coach in Duncan Ferguson. With only seven points separating one side from another, it does sum up how the Premier League has been incredibly competitive and unpredictable so far this season.
For sure, both sides will be playing with a lot energy, movement as well as with pace, as the attacking option that the hosts and visitors have are capable of deciding the outcome of the fixture. The Red Devils will be looking to improve their record at Old Trafford, having picked up 15 points out of a potential 24, whilst the Toffees have won only one game away from home in eight attempts.
It’s time to look at the three vital battles that could help to decide the fate of this fixture…
Marcus Rashford vs Djibril Sidibe
Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford just happens to be one of the most inform players and one of the top goal-scorers within the Premier League so far this season, as he continues to pose a dangerous threat from the left flank through his burst of pace and incredible movement. Despite the departure of Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku with no replacements coming in, the 22-year-old is proving a lot of his critics wrong by showing that the club and the manager can depend on him.
Rashford will be in for a close and tight encounter with Djibril Sidibe, who his currently on loan from Ligue 1 side AS Monaco and has become a regular starter for Everton in recent weeks. Given that Seamus Coleman is a huge doubt for the game at Old Trafford, there’s no doubt that the Frenchman will keep his place in the team and attempt to stamp his presence on both sides of the pitch.
Richarlison vs Harry Maguire
It’s no secret that Everton’s most deadly and influential player in the final third of the pitch is none other than Richarlison at the moment, an individual who may not be clinical and consistent against the mid-table teams but will always put on a convincing performance against the big sides. With his ability to take on two to three players with ease whilst being an aggressive predator in the box, he has the capability of hurting United on the counter or by winning the second balls in the key areas.
Richarlison has the intelligence and versatility to play on either flank or through the middle, and will be coming up against no one else but Harry Maguire, who has started to show his actual quality for the team when required and is also proving himself to be one of the main leaders within the squad. With United’s defence still conceding a few cheap goals here and there, Maguire will be hoping that they can become more stable and solid, as well as work on completing clean sheets regular basis.
Scott McTominay vs Gylfi Sigurdsson
Given the lack of quality midfield options that Solskjaer has available, as well as Paul Pogba still being on the sidelines for a couple of weeks, it means that Scott McTominay has to step up once again and be the main man for the midfield and for the team. Looking at the performances he has produced and how he commands the team around him from the middle of the pitch, he has surely been one of the United’s best players so far this season, especially given the lack of quality the team actually has.
Meanwhile for Everton, Gylfi Sigurdsson has started to play a deeper role and could be utilised in the central midfield position within Duncan Ferguson’s 4-4-2 setup, which may suit him well as he is known for his types of passing and his ability to feed the ball into the attackers. The 30-year-old has been seen as a number ten type of player throughout his time at Tottenham Hotspur and Swansea City, but with Everton’s ongoing midfield injuries, he will have to play in a role he may not be totally comfortable in, considering the defensive duties and the amount of distance he will have to cover.