Along with Cahill, and Neville, Sylvain Distin was a surprise absentee, as injuries started to bite for the first time this season.
Everton struggled to compete with the wounded Champions in the first half, but limited the damage to just one goal, scored a little too easily by Hernandez. They almost came back before the break when a Baines free-kick smashed off the United crossbar. Luois Saha did well to work a couple of shooting opportunities but could only fire straight at De Gea under pressure.
David Moyes removed the completly ineffective Diniyar Bilyaletdinov at half-time, bringing on Ross Barkley.
Rodwell got in a much better shot that forced a good save from De Gea as Everton had a good spell of possession and pressure but few final balls creating any chances, and leaving the defence exposed to the counter.
Coleman got booked for catching Evra, which was a pity as his enrgy had been helping drive Everton forward with the ball. Fellaini looked for a penalty when Rooney clambered all over him. Saha looked to tee up Coleman in a central position but his left-foot shot was horribly sliced for a throw-in.
United were defending too comfortably, the lack of guile in Everton's attacking play letting them down, while Ferguson was able to role in his expensive subs, the frustration showing in a ridiculous lofted effort at goal from midfield by Jagielka in lieu of a more sensible out-ball.
Moyes decided to go for it with just 15 mins left, Vellios on for Osman.
There was a mad scramble off a corner, Saha hemmed in by four United defenders but he managed to squeeze the ball to Rodwell who shot wide. Everton built well again but Coleman fired too softly straight at De Gea, as the secret weapon, Magaye Gueye, was sneaked on after a month's absence from the action.
with two minutes left, any tempo was lost when linesman Andy Halliday went down after hurting his back, requiring treatment before the Fourth Official, Phil Dowd picked up the flag for 6 added minutes, starting with a corner by Gueye that was poor.
A big shout for a penalty was never going to be viewed favourably by Halsey, it was more a case of Gueye running into Evra, and going down far too easily. Fellaini went in the book for a really stupid clip on Jones that allowed United to timewaste in the corner.
One final free-kick came to nothing but Vellios did get a desparate shot in before the final whistle bringing to an end another now depressingly familiar defeat to a big moneybags side.
Everton slipped to 16th in the Premier League with their fifth defeat in six games in all competitions as their "month of death" came to a welcome close with the departure of Manchester United from Goodison Park this afternoon with another three points, albeit their first victory in this fixture in four seasons.
Hoping to catch the Champions reeling from that unbelievable 6-1 home defeat to Manchester City, the Blues instead found Sir Alex Ferguson's men in organised and clinical mood and it just needed a solitary goal by Javier Hernandez, scored in the 19th minute, to get the job done for United. For try as they did, Everton just couldn't bridge the very visible gulf in quality between the two sides and apart from some well-struck efforts from Jack Rodwell, the Blues didn't really look likely to claw their way back into the match.
Shorn of the suspended Royston Drenthe and injured trio Tim Cahill, Phil Neville and Sylvain Distin, David Moyes had to make a number of changes to the team that started against Chelsea, including the inclusion once again of Leon Osman behind Louis Saha, Phil Jagielka alongside John Heitinga and Seamus Coleman on the right flank.
The Blues started brightly but could only muster a tame left-footed shot by Coleman before the visitors took a decisive grip on the game and after Leighton Baines' clearance went straight to a red shirt and Patrice Evra was found on the United left, the Frenchman delivered a dangerous cross into the six-yard box and Hernandez converted with a simple finish.
Weathering a difficult spell in which United pressed for a killer second goal, the Blues started to come back into things more in the final 15 minutes before half time but a feature of the first half was just how much quicker their opponents were in thought and deed and how efficiently they supported the man with the ball. Everton, by contrast, struggled to move the ball effectively through United's midfield and defence and that mostly restricted the home side's threat to shots from outside the area and set pieces.
Unfortunately, even there Everton came up short, with Baines failing to beat the first man from a corner and a free kick routine ended with Saha's shot being charged down by an advancing defender. Nine minutes before the break, though, the Blues carved out two chances to level the scores: first, when Marouane Fellaini's knock-down fell to Osman but he scuffed an effort straight at David De Gea; and then when Rodwell intercepted a pass superbly before advancing forward and firing a yard wide from 20 yards.
When Darren Fletcher fouled Fellaini just outside the United area six minutes before the break, however, Baines was presented with an opportunity in his favorite area of the pitch but while he duly swerved his free kick up over the wall and sent it spinning towards the opposite corner from where De Gea was standing, the ball smacked off the crossbar and United were able to clear. It was an agonising moment — the 'keeper was beaten all ends up, it just needed to be a couple of inches lower.
To their credit, Everton kept pressing right up to the half-time whistle and some lovely skill by Coleman where he spun around two red shirts just inside the box and helped the ball on towards Saha unfortunately ended with the French striker shooting straight at the goalkeeper.
Using the interval to address one of his two main problems in the match, Moyes decided to withdraw Diniyar Bilyletdinov in favour of Ross Barkley at the start of the second half. The Russian had had a few decent moments but he and Baines were on completely different wavelengths in the first 45 minutes and if the manager wasn't going to move him inside to replace the equally ineffective Osman, then it made sense to take him off.
The frustrating part was that, having frozen Barkley out of Premier League action since late August and publicly cited his mistakes at Blackburn as justification, Moyes had set the lad up to fail against one of the two best teams in the country. Apart from a few impressive minutes after he came on, the 17 year-old struggled to find another blue jersey and was largely disappointing at a time when Everton really needed some drive and guile.
By contrast, Rodwell was displaying all the benefits of an extended run in the first team with an impressively mature display in the middle and when Coleman dispossessed Evra and laid the ball on for the midfielder, Rodwell stung the palms of De Gea with a powerful drive that the 'keeper could only parry away to safety.
United were content to sit back at this point and try and hit their hosts on the break, which they almost did successfully in the 62nd minute when Tim Howard pushed Danny Welbeck's driven shot from the angle over the bar. Everton maintained their momentum and possession for long periods in the second half but it was clear that the loss of the likes of Mikel Arteta and Steven Pienaar, players with that little bit of craft and invention, has cripped the Blues' prospects of beating the best sides in the division.
Osman was eventually swapped with Apostolos Vellios with 15 minutes left but with Everton struggling to clear-cut create opportunities, the chances that either the young Greek or Magaye Gueye, who came on for Saha eight minutes later, making a impact from the bench were slim. And so it proved; Rodwell and Coleman had half-chances but shot wide and at De Gea respectively before Vellios' low shot concluded the contest as De Gea comfortably gathered after seven minutes of stoppage time.
Sadly, this was one of those days where you just had to acknowledge the huge disparity in the resources at the disposal of Moyes and Ferguson. United's line-up was hardly their strongest and yet they won this game fairly comfortably against an Everton side that just didn't have the creativity or ideas to break them down. Given how lively Drenthe was against Chelsea, it's possible he could have made a significant difference but we'll never know. And from a team-selection stand-point, you could really only raise the old chestnut that Bilyaletdinov is not and never will be an effective winger by way of criticism of Moyes.
I still maintain that Barkley should be getting regular action off the bench in the coming weeks as he seeks to reestablish his confidence and touch, and it would be nice to see more of Gueye but the Blues' biggest problems lie in the Boardroom where a chronic lack of investment in players has come home to roost. Until something significant happens on that front, Everton FC will once again also-rans in the Premier League who will do well to finish in the top ten this season.
Player Ratings: Howard 7, Hibbert 7, Jagielka 6, Heitinga 7, Baines 6, Rodwell 8*, Fellaini 7, Coleman 7, Bilyaletdinov 5 (Barkley 5), Osman 5 (Vellios 6), Saha 6 (Gueye 6)
Everton's month of death, an October that has played out almost as badly as some had feared, comes to a close this weekend with the visit of a Manchester United side reeling from an unprecedented 6-1 Premier League home defeat at the hands of neighbours Manchester City. If anything is certain it's that a wounded Sir Alex Ferguson will be expecting an immediate response from his players, while David Moyes will hopefully be looking to exploit any weakness in morale or self-belief in the United defence.
If City showed anything in what was, even accounting for a man advantage, a stunning performance at Old Trafford, it's that United can be vulnerable when you really have a go at them. Everton also proved that two seasons ago when they ripped Sir Alex's side apart at Goodison Park and ran out 3-1 winners in what was only the Blues' third win over United since 1992.
Unfortunately, were he inclined to take a more cavalier approach to exploit any knocks to United's self belief, Moyes will have to do without one player who could have helped lead that charge. Royston Drenthe's second yellow card against Chelsea on Wednesday night arguably tipped the Carling Cup fourth round tie in the Londoners' favour and it will also deprive Everton of the power, pace and shooting threat that caused Fulham so many problems last Sunday.
He also looks be without his captain and Talisman due to injury. Phil Neville was withdrawn at half time in midweek with a hamstring strain and Tim Cahill played through the pain barrier but at reduced capacity. Indeed, the Austalian has not been running at 100% fitness for months now but his manager has relied on his so heavily in the past that it wouldn't be a complete surprise to see him patched up and thrown on to start in this noon kick off, though that does appear unlikely at this point.
Tim Howard is almost certain to return after sitting out of the cup defeat and Phil Jagielka is also in line to resume defensive duties as John Heitinga betrayed a little rust as a central defender on Wednesday evening.
Seamus Coleman will likely replace Drenthe on the right flank but whether Diniyar Bilyaletdinov gets to keep his place after his impressive display against Chelsea remains to be seen. He scored one of the Blues' goals in that 3-1 triumph over United two seasons ago and was at the centre of many of his side's best moments on Wednesday but Moyes is persistently loyal to certain players and Leon Osman is another candidate to reclaim his place.
With disappointingly defensive performances against City and at Chelsea in the League two weeks ago, how Moyes approaches this game, particularly in view of United's humiuliating reverse last Sunday, will be key. It's likely that he will send his team out to have a go from the first whistle but much will depend on whether he deploys the personnel to maintain a strong start and make it successful.
Obviously, remaining tight at the back will be central to Everton's chances of success, the rest will come down to the players' belief on the day and just how shaken United's rearguard is after conceding six goals on home turf.
|Premier League Scores|
|Premier League Table|
|2011-12 Reports Index|
|MAN UNITED (4-4-2)|
|Cleverley (56' Nani)|
|Hernandez (66' Berbatov 66)|
|Welbeck (Valencia 73)|
|Subs not used|
|12||Queens Park Rangers||12|
|13||West Bromwich Albion||11|