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Setting the scene… The in-form Reds will be looking to build on a positive start to the Premier League season when Everton make the short trip from Merseyside to Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon. United top the table after taking 10 points from a possible 12 in the first four top-flight matches, scoring 12 goals and conceding just twice in the process. Jose Mourinho’s men are also on a high after making a winning return to the UEFA Champions League by easing past Swiss champions FC Basel 3-0 on Tuesday night but will be keen to bounce back in the league after our 100 per cent start came to an end in last Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Stoke City. But it won’t be easy against an Everton side, who have one or two familiar faces in their ranks.
How can I watch it? For the second time this season, United will be last on stage during the Premier League weekend, with Sunday’s game kicking off at 16:00 BST and will be broadcast live on Sky Sports in the UK. Subscribers of MUTV on Sky or Virgin Media, the club’s MUTV app or online at mutv.com will be able to watch build-up from 14:00 BST on the Match Day show and listen to radio commentary of the game before watching it in full at midnight. You can also keep up with all the action as it happens via ManUtd.com’s live match blog and by following our official Twitter account @ManUtd.
Any team news for me? Jose Mourinho will be without Paul Pogba after the Frenchman came off in the first half of the 3-0 win over FC Basel with a hamstring injury, but Phil Jones and Eric Bailly will be available after serving UEFA bans. After making six changes in midweek, the boss could freshen up his team again to manage the demands of a busy schedule consisting of seven games in the space of 22 days. Meanwhile, Everton are set to be without long-term absentees Ramiro Funes Mori, Seamus Coleman and Yannick Bolasie, while midfielders Ross Barkley and James McCarthy also look set to be absent with hamstring and knee injuries respectively.
How have Everton begun the season? Well, Everton’s campaign began as early as 27 July in the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round. The Toffees saw off Slovakian side MFK Ruzomberok and Hajduk Split of Croatia to advance to the group stages, where they kicked off their Group E campaign away at Atalanta on Thursday evening and suffered a 3-0 defeat. In Premier League terms, it’s been a poor start to Ronald Koeman’s second season at the helm, with four points from as many games leaving the men from Merseyside languishing in 16th place. Former Reds skipper Wayne Rooney scored on his top-flight return in a 1-0 home win over Stoke on the opening weekend before netting again in a creditable 1-1 draw at Manchester City. But the Toffees have struggled since, losing three successive games for the first time under Koeman, after a 2-0 defeat at champions Chelsea before back-to-back 3-0 losses at home to Tottenham and away at Atalanta. Koeman will be hoping his side are due an upturn in fortune on a ground where he came close to recording three successive wins as a manager last term, having also won 1-0 at OT twice as Southampton manager.
How did we fare against Everton last term? Both Premier League meetings between the sides were keenly-fought encounters which ended in two 1-1 draws. Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s lobbed finish was cancelled out by a Leighton Baines penalty at Goodison Park last December before the Swedish striker popped up with a last-gasp spot-kick of his own to rescue a point for the Reds at Old Trafford in April after Phil Jagielka had given the Toffees a first-half lead.
How did Everton do last season? After successive 11th-place finishes under Roberto Martinez, the Toffees returned to their accustomed top-half position in 2016/17 under Koeman’s stewardship. After four wins in a five-game unbeaten start, a surprise defeat at Bournemouth heralded a difficult autumn, which included a 5-0 hammering at eventual champions Chelsea. But, with the emergence of young talent such as highly-rated teenage midfielder Tom Davies, Koeman’s men embarked on an impressive run that saw them lose just three league games in five months, with eye-catching wins over Arsenal and Manchester City along on the way. Even a sticky spell of three defeats from their last four matches couldn’t prevent the Merseyside club from comfortably securing European football for the first time since 2014/15.
Will there be some familiar faces playing for Everton? Indeed, there will be. In fact, a number of players from both teams will be taking on their former employers this weekend, including Wayne Rooney and Romelu Lukaku who swapped clubs over the summer. Lukaku’s Belgian compatriot Marouane Fellaini, who scored 33 goals in six seasons at Goodison Park before joining the Reds in 2013, will also be up against his old team. On the blue half, Michael Keane and Morgan Schneiderlin have also represented the Reds in recent seasons, having arrived at Everton this year.
How have we done against Everton in the past? Historically, we have a mixed overall record against the Toffees, having won 85, drawn 44 and lost 66 of our 195 meetings in all competitions stretching back to 1892. But the Reds have lost just one of the last six top-flight clashes with Everton, who have only won twice at Old Trafford in the Premier League era. The first of those victories came in the inaugural season in 1992/93, a 3-0 triumph, before Bryan Oviedo’s goal secured a 1-0 victory in 2013 as then United boss David Moyes suffered defeat against his former club.
Did you know? David De Gea could keep his 100th clean sheet for United in all competitions if he successfully shuts out the Toffees this weekend. It would be a major personal milestone for the Spanish stopper, who has become a talismanic figure between the sticks for the Reds since arriving from Atletico Madrid in 2011. De Gea has also kept six clean sheets in his last seven matches for club and country.
Who’s the referee? Andre Marriner will take charge of Sunday’s game at Old Trafford. The 46-year-old FIFA official from the West Midlands will oversee his fourth Premier League game of the season. He handled five United games in 2016/17, including the EFL Cup final win over Southampton at Wembley. Marriner will be assisted by Simon Beck and Andy Halliday, with Jon Moss on fourth official duties.
Rivals watch: As usual, all 20 top-flight teams will be in action, with the Premier League weekend getting under way on Friday night with a derby on the south coast…
Friday 15 September
Bournemouth v Brighton (20:00)
Saturday 16 September (15:00 BST unless stated)
Crystal Palace v Southampton (12:30)
Huddersfield Town v Leicester City
Liverpool v Burnley
Newcastle United v Stoke City
Watford v Manchester City
West Brom v West Ham
Tottenham Hotspur v Swansea City (17:30)
Sunday 17 September
Chelsea v Arsenal (13:30)
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