Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United are quite close to reaching the promised land, but they can’t afford many setbacks as Manchester City and Liverpool are breathing down their necks.
Despite losing to the league leaders last week, Manchester United are being considered as the favorites to clinch the Champions League spot. Prior to the clash against Spurs at Old Trafford, there was a big question mark on whether they’ll be able to deal with the stern fixtures ahead of them. Not only they passed the tests, they did it with some style. Although it isn’t over yet and United face the Merseyside club Everton at Goodison Park
Roberto Martinez’s side are a shadow of what they were last season. But their performances have improved over the previous few weeks. In their last five games in the Premier League, Everton have won four and drawn once. The Toffees are currently 12th on the Premier League table and their resurgence after a very disastrous start will again be tested on Sunday. Not only that, it will be interesting to see how United would cope without the service of some key players. The Red Devils were flying high in the league after crashing out of the FA Cup but now that their momentum has been broken, will they be able to grind results like they did against City, Liverpool and Spurs? In their last five matches, United have won four and lost one.
The 20-time English champions won 2 – 1 in the match at Old Trafford in October. Angel di Maria opened the scoring, while Falcao netted the winner, but presently both these players are struggling to make it in Van Gaal’s starting line-up. Robin van Persie can make a return to the starting line-up after playing in the midweek Under-21 clash against Leicester. Januzaj and Rafael are back into the treatment room after suffering knocks in that match. Carrick, Blind, Rojo and Jones are doubtful to feature at the weekend.
Everton also has some injury issues at their end. Leon Osman and Steven Pienaar will face late fitness tests after recovering from their injuries. Although Martinez is confident that James McCarthy will make his way back into the squad.
“He [McCarthy] has reacted very well,” Martinez said. “For the first 48 hours after a knock like that it is important to see how the ankle recovers.
“The treatment has had a positive response so I expect James to join the group later in the week. If he can get through the two or three sessions before the game then that will be a good sign.
“We need to make sure he is 100 per cent but at the moment the way the ankle has reacted is positive. Knowing James, I do feel that he is going to be available for the squad.”
Marouane Fellaini will return to his former club as a rejuvenated man and based on his recent form, it won’t be a big surprise if he scores or assists for the men in red on Sunday.
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