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Ahead Of Our Game Against Everton

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Today we could go 12 points clear at the top of the table with twelve games left to play but we’d be foolish to think it’s going to be simple. Everton beat us at Goodison Park on the opening day of the season and we were poor. Wayne Rooney chugged about the pitch for 90 minutes but looked overweight and unfit. The only highlight was getting our first glimpse of Robin van Persie, but it was a depressing day for us.

If we go back a few months to the time before we played Everton, we’ll remember that horrendous 4-4, the game that cost us the title. We went 3-1 up, then 4-2 up, but couldn’t see the game out. It’s agonising to think about, so let’s hope we can have happier memories from today’s game against them.

What could make the task more difficult than it is already is the possibility of resting players ahead of our trip to the Bernabeu this week. Ferguson has said in his programme notes that there aren’t any players who he doesn’t trust, implying we could see plenty of changes. The manager has a difficult decision to make today though. Does he go for the jugular, play a strong side today, give us the best possible chance of going 12 points clear, whilst risking injuries to key players for the Real Madrid game? Or does he rest players today, give Everton a better chance of taking points off us, with the security of keeping our best players injury free and fresh for our Champions League game? It’s a tough one.

A couple of years ago I remember walking up to Old Trafford and hearing the team news ahead of an FA Cup quarter-final against Arsenal, who weren’t anywhere near as bad as they are these days. For one thing, they had a brilliant Dutch striker up front for them. Van der Sar, Evra, Brown, Smalling, Vidic, Fabio, Rafael, O’Shea, Gibson, Rooney and Hernandez made the starting XI. Top goalie, seven defenders, one midfielder that would soon be sold on, and top strikers. Bizarre. Of course, we went on to win 2-0, and it was one of those days where you have to roll your eyes at the manager’s ability to pick a team.

However, I felt the same way when hearing the line-up for Blackburn last season, with Rafael and Park starting in midfield, and we lost 3-2 that day. Sometimes Ferguson gets away with a barmy team selection, some days he doesn’t. If today is another one of those days, I hope to God it’s more like Arsenal in the Cup than it is Blackburn of last season.

I imagine the manager will find a happy medium, with enough of our first choice players in the team to get us a result, but without damaging our chances midweek. Of course we want the win, but if we’re not playing at full strength, taking a point to go ten points clear would be decent enough. We really should take advantage of City’s awful performance and result against Southampton yesterday though, and picking up all three points would really be kicking them when they’re down.

You’d like to think that Rooney, Carrick, Vidic, Evra and De Gea are all certainties. It wouldn’t be too surprising, much to the groans you’d hear if this is the team that is announced, if Giggs started on the left and Scholes started alongside Carrick in the middle. Ashley Young needs a game, so does Jonny Evans, so if we get a team that resembles something like that, we shouldn’t complain. Whoever goes up front with Rooney will be good enough and we could see Smalling or Jones slot it at right back, with Rafael protected for Real Madrid.

Rooney hasn’t had many good games against his former club, with the away fixture this season a new low for him, so hopefully now that he’s in the midst of great scoring form (11 goals in 11 games for club and country), he will put in a good shift today.

We have scraped through several games this season and if we are to beat Everton today, you wouldn’t be surprised if it was a scrappy and tight affair. We’ve got a near perfect record at home though, winning all of them except that 3-2 defeat against Spurs, so you’d fancy us to have enough to get the result we want today.

Come on United!

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About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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45 Comments

  1. iced earth says:

    3 points

  2. domunited says:

    Three points today will demoralize City. Would love to see the hope suffocated from the eyes of the manager, the players, and their supporters. All business today please, no mucking about.

  3. Rd5454 says:

    My team
    DDG
    Rafa vida Johnny pat
    Carrick Tom/scholes
    Toni wazza nani/young
    Danny/rvp

    My team vs virus
    DDG
    Rafa smalling/rio Johnny pat
    Carrick jones/Tom
    Rvp wazza kagawa/giggs
    Chicharito

  4. iced earth says:

    i just hope sir alex will select a stong team
    every match is like a final

    ddg
    jones smalling vida evra

    valencia carrick ando nani
    rooney

    rvp

  5. andromeda says:

    A reminder for 2007 comeback against Everton!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_gRGL1t2Js

  6. Baldrick says:

    I’m sorta hoping he puts a few lesser players out at the start and packs the bench with quality in case we need them

  7. Costas says:

    I’m certain we can play two strong teams against Everton and Real. Our next game after that is on Monday night, so plenty of time for a rest. The only doubt for today would be Carrick for me.

  8. FletchTHEMAN says:

    Sure hope we win, but it’s a long season and I trust Fergie to manage the squad.

    I am fairly certain there will be changes, Maybe Lindegaard Buttner, Jones, Young and Welbeck for starters. Will be a very interesting team sheet.
    Rio or Vidic, but which one!

    Be great to win as I am really starting to hate the site of Fellani. But more important to use the squad and make sure we are in best shape to win all our games this week.

    The magic number is 27 now points. If we win 27points from the 39 on offer (13games) then we win the league. If City drop points then you can take that directly off the 27 we need to win it.

  9. drv3011 says:

    im expecting a tough game too.everton tend to be a real nuisance.remember in the 2010/11 season when we were leading 3-1 with a minute to go at goodison and then conceded two late goals?we lost 3-1 there the season before.then there was the 4-4 last season.to me,those results really convinced me that everton were sort of our bogey team bcoz they’re a really tough nut to crack.

  10. Gaffer says:

    SAF will rotate, two games in a week but not full games two weeks in a row at this level – midfield. Predict

    DdG
    Rafael Smalling Vidic Evra
    Young Carrick Anderson Giggs
    Wellbeck RvP

  11. alfREDo says:

    Happy matchday all,
    C’mon Utd!!

  12. Daniel88 says:

    This is no time to fuck around we have a home game against a non elite team to end this title race. The look of the City players and manager last night was a look of defeat. A win is vital but a last minute winner for us would kill City.

    Smalling and Vidic should both start because they are the best in the air and all they will do is lump it forward to Fellaini.

    Jones will probably be drafted in ahead of Rafael for the exact same reason. Hope not though.

  13. In David We Trust says:

    I think our lack of strength and depth in CM could be a problem today, thank fuck for our strikers, but I will get a bit nervous to see scholes playing in the engine room. What do we do with cleverly and carrick? do we play them today, and risk their freshness come wed, or we stick with them? At-least anderson is fit, which will give us some rotation. But the rest of the team, you piuck yourself, my only worry today, is what CM pairing we do go for, that will define for me where this game will be won, but this game maybe built for anderson, which is one reason why I feel carrick and cleverly will be more suited for the Madrid game

  14. parryheid says:

    I think it will be Vidic and Evans,least I hope so.

  15. DreadedRed says:

    Could be SAF pulling a fast one, but on Friday he said: “Paul has a little bit of a knee injury. He has missed the last couple of games. He started training on Thursday and should be okay next week.”

  16. Costas says:

    @FITB

    I have the same worries about the midfield but something has to be sacrificed today in order to make certain we have players fit down the line. So I wouldn’t start Carrick. Tom should be fine though. Maybe a midfield 3 of Jones, Tom and Scholes? We have to keep Carrick and Anderson fresh for Real.

  17. drv3011 says:

    @Costas Jones is back already?i thought he had the shingles.

  18. Costas says:

    @drv3011

    Yeah Fergie said on Friday that he’s available and the injury wasn’t as bad as Pearce made it look.

  19. drv3011 says:

    @Costas oh i must have missed that press conference.good news,it is.

  20. DreadedRed says:

    How Jonesh got hammered on shingles I dunno. I been shinking da doubles all day, ‘n I’m shtill friggin’ shober.

  21. WeAreUnited says:

    ddg
    rafael smalling vida evra
    valencia carrick ando nani
    rooney
    rvp

    this is a certain for me, I believe, that we will try to pull 2 goals fast and then in the second half, substitute rvp and some others who neess resting.

  22. In David We Trust says:

    Costas – na I would not be worried about keeping anderson fit for the Madrid game, as I feel he will use the same kind of blueprints for the madrid game, remember what the boss said, the days of the DM or energetic destroyers are over, anderson would be a terrible move to play him in Madrid, as they play deep anyway, in terms of their CM. They never press, so for me, the side I would play in Madrid would be?

    DDG
    jones ferdinand vidic evra
    carrick cleverly
    valencia rooney kagwa
    RVP

    That is the perfect type of side to go into the Madrid game, a mix of width, and someone like kagwa that gives us something different from the other side

  23. RedBorneo says:

    We are leading 12 points today..?
    Just can’t wait to see the starting lineup…

  24. Fibes says:

    vs Everton

    DDG

    Smalling/Jones/Evans/Buttner

    Carrick/Tom

    Young/Wazza/Kagawa

    Chicharito

    vs Real

    DDG

    Rafael/Rio/Vidic/Evra

    Carrick/Anderson

    Welbeck/Wazza/Nani

    RVP

  25. WeAreUnited says:

    @FITB

    Why Jones and not Rafael? And I am not bashing Jones, but Rafael been one of the best players this season, would you imagine Bayern Munich playing without Lahm? and don’t get me wrong :)

    I think even though we have to try and stop Ronaldo, Rafael will offer more with Valencia, but he would also offer us counter-attack options and Ronaldo would have to track back, so no Jones, but Rafael there, otherwise, a perfect line-up!

    Maybe SAF surprises and plays Young instead of Valencia there, now that Young is fit, but it would be too early. Howewer Knowing SAF, it’s never too early :D

  26. DreadedRed says:

    Enjoy the game Reds, come on United!

  27. andromeda says:

    One thing for certain, Everton will come to Oldtrafford well prepared and so we are in for a difficult game.on the other end, the lads are also in a fantastic mood specially after yesterday’s heroic efforts by Southampton and a couple of dodgy errors by Hart.overall we are relaxed and whatever happen today we are still in the driving seat to be regain the premier league.

    From that perspective, we should make up our minds whether to secure premier league or to be advantageous at Bernabeu!!methinks its does also matters not to be greedy, nevertheless I totally agree with Costas”that we can pick up two different strong teams”hopefully we can:)

  28. Dela says:

    This will be a very difficult game I think. Everton HAVE to win after some of the results yesterday, they are going to throw everything at us and I’m not 100% sure if the lads will throw 100% at Everton, after what happened yesterday the pressure is just off, and with the madrid game coming I think they will all be very protective of themselves etc.

  29. Hans says:

    No ifs or buts, we simply have to win this match. I’ll take a boring 1:0 now!!!!

  30. drv3011 says:

    @Hans

    Dude are you kidding?since when do man utd play boring football?

  31. Doghouse says:

    Won’t be a boring 1-0 with Everton, they’ve got the players to score out of nothing. If it is a 1-0 to us then it’ll be squeaky bum time all the way.

  32. andromeda says:

    @Hans

    From the day i was watching football until now, I have come to a conclusion that football is full of”if and but”there is no guarantee mate.

  33. Shabz the Mancunian says:

    The PL is closer to home than the CL..by all means we should throw everything we got @ everton..we can all deal with losing the CL but not the PL

  34. yustaq says:

    We may be worried about line-up fixtures A̶̲̥̅̊nd̶̲̥̅ other thingz.. But as SAF said, i never doubt the abilty of any of players…
    No matter what the lineup look likes, i will come back here to say i said this… Coz in cuole of hours we will BEAT everton and comes wenesday nite…. VICTORIA ARSERTA for UNITED…
    BELIEVE!

  35. United24 says:

    Madrid game. 9 players pick themselves. DDG, Rafael, evra, rio, vidic, carrick, cleverley, Rooney and RVP. The 2 depends on SAF tactics. I believe one winger and one midfielder. So one of Valencia/ young/ nani and one of Anderson/jones/ kagawa

  36. drv3011 says:

    Guys here is the lineup for everton : De Gea, Rafael, Evra, Vidic, Evans, Jones, Cleverley, Valencia, Giggs, Rooney, van Persie.

  37. yustaq says:

    Confimed line up vs. Everton
    #mufc XI:De Gea, Rafael, Evra, Vidic, Evans, Jones, Cleverley, Valencia, Giggs, Rooney, RvP”

  38. In David We Trust says:

    WeAreUnited – Rafeal can sometimes have the habit getting caught out defensively, so he could get double teamed, if Rafeal starts I would have NP, now starting anderson against Madrid would be a huge mistake from the boss. They do not press us from midfield, and the most important aspect for the Madrid game, that C and C bring to the table is? ball control and positional sense. Anderson lacks those 2 key components, he also goes walk about, getting forward, losing possession, and getting caught out of position in midfield, we do not want our CM attacking so much, we need the CM 2 playing deep. Cleverly is far better winning the ball than Anderson, his energy and ability to press Madrid could be a key factor, he tailor made for european games, Carrick loves playing alongside cleverly, who takes the pressure of Carrick, and Cleverly can go into those little pockets and start making things happen for our front 4, that was the blue print in beating chelsea and especially shitty away

  39. In David We Trust says:

    interesting lineup, weird anderson does not start, which I would feel he would need the game, but its always nervy playing one of the 2 legends, with their age and lack of legs. But we will see

  40. In David We Trust says:

    I do feel nani and anderson should have started today ahead of giggs and jones, and a midfield of cleverly anderson valencia nani could have been tasty today, unless anderson is injured again

  41. WeAreUnited says:

    well I didn’t say anything about Ando, but if you refer on the one I put agains tEverton then I din’t mean that it should be against Madrid :)

    DDG
    RAFAEL ferdinand vidic evra
    carrick cleverly
    valencia rooney kagwa
    RVP

    against madrid :)

    For me Rafael is a yesyes, no matter what :) I hope I’m right, but wouldn’t be disappointed seeing Jones also, he would provide also, I just rate Rafael more on the right back position thanb Jones:=

  42. magichand onitsha says:

    I’m expecting the best from coach sir Ferguson and the players wish them 3-0 win in our favor

  43. In David We Trust says:

    WeAreUnited – I was responding to Costas is well, that we do not want players like anderson and jones in that midfield, especially in the way they waste possession and lack of positional discipline

  44. WeAreUnited says:

    aaaa sorry mate

    I thought you were mistaken :) cause you only mentioned me, but yeah.

  45. magichand onitsha says:

    I’m not afraid of Everton now that our players are in good form in focusing on real Madrid match cuz I know we won this match with 3-0 in our favor

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