Manchester United take on Everton on Sunday with the ability to temporarily reopen an eight point gap over rivals Manchester City, and put a bit more pressure on Roberto Mancini’s men, who face Wolves later in the day. Football betting odds will favour the Red Devils at home, but an able and combative Everton side will not make it easy for the champions.
United bounced back from the surprise defeat to Wigan with a commanding 4-0 win over Aston Villa last time out, and the Old Trafford faithful will be baying for blood against the Merseysiders on Sunday. Sir Alex Ferguson will motivate his team to ensure that they respect Everton, but with the bulk of the possession the hosts should have enough in their locker to get goals against the Toffees. Long-term absentees Anderson, Fletcher and Vidic remain sidelined, however Ashley Young is expected to shake off a knock and Michael Owen is on the verge of fitness once more.
With the Manchester derby next on the fixture list, Fergie will urge his team not to slip up against Everton, and therefore give themselves the opportunity to win the title at the Etihad Stadium. Dropped points against David Moyes’ side would act as a boost to City, and could see a shift in momentum before next week’s fixture. City are widely expected to beat Wolves at Molineux later in the day, but with the Midlands club needing to win to avoid assured relegation to the Championship, the game could be tougher than expected for the visitors.
Everton have had a strong second half to 2011-12, and have taken 10 points from a possible 12 in their last four games. The Goodison Park club have beaten the likes of City, Chelsea and Tottenham this term, but do not have as good a track record away from home. Everton have proved a tough customer in the past for the Red Devils, with their last win at Old Trafford back in 2009 in the FA Cup. Nikica Jelavic will provide a dangerous attacking opponent after an impressive start to his time in England, and although Leighton Baines and Jack Rodwell are out, the away team will prove to be a stubborn opponent.
Many have questioned how good this United team is compared to previous versions, with Sir Alex’s men the subject of criticism from the press and others in the footballing community. Whether it is true or not, the champions have come good when they have needed to, showed more consistency than their rivals and are in prime position to claim their 20th top flight title with four games remaining. A win over Everton on Sunday will ensure the advantage over City is maintained, momentum remains with the leaders and that a memorable title victory can be claimed on rival soil.