The Insulted and the Injured
That description has never been more apt for the erstwhile champions as they go into a seventh week of Premiership knowing that against a 16th placed West Ham side they had to hang on by the skin of the teeth to get the three points. There is not much insult more than the fact that a team that has been ruling Europe’s elite Club competition in midweeks is considering arranging friendlies with second tier clubs to keep match fitness. The injuries are what has been pointed as the reason for the slow start, a genuine case considering Van Gaal has to figure out how to convince Valencia to be the substitute left back, given that he is forced to pick McNair and Blackett in the first team. The injuries to the ones Van Gaal has put the faith in like Herrera and Young has deprived the iron man from his ruthlessness or on his ability to drive the team on a performance basis. This means that even if he doesn’t trust a combination of Rooney, RVP and Falcao together, he has to pick that force to make it potent. But for this time Rooney, the former Everton Protégé has ruled himself out of the game (Van Gaal has been unlike Ferguson been supportive of the refrees, given that there has been so many decisions this season that has gone against United. Somebody needs to dust out the history books to see when was the last time two soft penalties were awarded against United) to give Van Gaal no option but to play a 4-4-2, which is not always a bad thing. On the other hand, this could give an opportunity to Fellaini, a run out in the United midfield, particularly against his old club. Fellaini’s lack of passing skills and inability to hold the ball was found out once he started playing in a team which had more possession. But United are no longer the team that controls the game in possession and attack relentlessly. Right now, they are a team which is playing fussball on pitch where every attack ends up in a counter attack. May be Fellaini could be the pin that would win the balls in midfield, and heads it towards Falcao and RVP to apply the finishing touches.
Early Season Blues
Clearly there is an element of recognisability in the Everton side that finished the 2013-14 season and that began the 2014-15 season. The only victory comes against a QPR side at home. Given that, unlike the top four sides and United, Everton did not have a big squad to choose from, it is evident that the players have come back into the grind unable to cope up with the tougher challenges thrown at them. Having played tough opponents in Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool already, a fourth heavy weight round within the 7th week is not something Everton are ready for. Their attack play has been very good and barring the evenly contested Mersey side derby they have scored 2 goals or more irrespective of the opponents. It is also surprising that they were winning at half time and then dropped points in all the other matches. This is a sign clearly indicating the lack of endurance after a hectic summer and a tiresome last season. Unlike last season, Everton has always been slow starters and Moyes had been good enough to drill the teams out during the mid term to bring in results which will see them through the end. In Martinez their attacking philosophy has altered which causes the teams with suspect back four scramble in the first half. In United, Everton has the perfect opponent to take lead through either a floated Baines corner/freekick or a thumping Lukaku header from Mirallas or Osman cross. The current team lacks the injection of pace due to injuries to Barkley and Pienaar. Mcarthy being doubtful is also not helping their ball distribution. The refreshing mood and goal supply this season has come from Naismith who has played all games and scored 3 goals in his first three starts. Before Barkley comes back and by the time Eto gets a run out in Premiership, Martinez will hopefully allow Naismith one more run against a tough opponent.
The Ex-Moyes clash
The only person who would not be happy with anything other than a draw in this fixture would be David Moyes. If United win, it means that Van Gaal has given a better start to the season that Moyes had, and if Martinez wins, it would prove that his philosophy is working at Everton and will clearly be wiping out the legacy which Moyes had built. I am going for a 2-2 in this match, not to keep Moyes happy, but I do not see either team having the endurance to get better of the other.
– Suvid Velayudhan is a Sports Analyst with the Football Galaxy at Sportz Cosmos. You can reach him at gmail id: sportzcosmos