Manchester United vs Everton

Friday, 5 February, 2021 248comments  |  Jump to last
Match Preview

Everton take their excellent record away from home to Old Trafford where they have only won twice in the Premier League era when they face title-chasing Manchester United this Saturday.

The Blues partially atoned for their awful display against Newcastle last week by beating Leeds United at Elland Road in midweek and they will travel along the M62 hoping to pull off another big win that would put them back into the conversation for Champions League qualification.

They will come up against a United side who smashed Southampton 9-0 on Tuesday evening to stay within three points of the Premier League summit. Granted, just like their hugely dramatised 6-1 reverse to Tottenham at the beginning of the season when they had a man sent off very early in the game, Southampton were reduced to 10 men after only two minutes and they lost Jan Bednarek in the second half after which another three goals were scored.

So, while it makes for a daunting scoreline and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men will surely take great confidence from it, it's a result that should be viewed in its proper context.

Nevertheless, as already mentioned, Everton's record in Manchester is not good and they have lost to United twice already this season, first in the League and then in the Carabao Cup, and deservedly so on both occasions. This time will hopefully be different insofar as Carlo Ancelotti's side will want to make amends for those two performances and, again, they've been flying in matches on the road in recent weeks. Indeed, they haven't lost away from home since losing at Newcastle on 1st November.

They also avoided disgracing themselves on their last two visits to Old Trafford, grinding out a creditable 1-1 draw under Duncan Ferguson last season and losing narrowly 2-1 in controversial circumstances in 2018-19. (The less said about the 4-0 drubbing suffered under Ronald Koeman in September 2017 the better.)

Perhaps the biggest question in the run-up to this fixture is what — if any — changes Ancelotti should make to the side that started at Leeds. With United's talent and movement, particularly up front, it's a game that will likely pose similar challenges to Wednesday evening, albeit with the obvious need to stifle Bruno Fernandes.

An unchanged line-up would, of course, mean no place for James Rodriguez, a notion that seems almost laughable. Alex Iwobi performed adequately at Elland Road and he would be the obvious one to make way but it would necessitate a tweak to Everton's approach given that the Nigerian is faster and better at tracking back. On the other hand, James is James and if that notorious hole on front of right-back that United exploited so successfully in November can be addressed then it would be hard to leave him on the bench again.

Everyone else has earned their place and even if Jordan Pickford had been passed fit for this one, it would have been a surprise to Robin Olsen dropped given his vital exploits against Leeds. A clean bill of health for Allan might have been a different situation, however, as he would be best suited to shackle Fernandes but this game comes too soon for the Brazilian.

Prior to their dismantling of Saints, United had won just one of four League games either side of a 3-2 win over Liverpool in the FA Cup. They were held by the reds at Anfield and by Arsenal at the Emirates a few days after Sheffield United shocked them by winning 2-1 in Manchester. They have been close to full strength in recent weeks and are expected to be again this weekend.

Kick-off: 8pm, Saturday 6 February 2021 on Sky Sports
Referee: Jon Moss
VAR: Andre Marriner
Last Time: Manchester United 1 - 1 Everton

Predicted Line-up: Olsen, Holgate, Mina, Godfrey, Digne, Doucouré, Gomes, Rodriguez, Sigurdsson, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin


Reader Comments (248)

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Graham Mockford
1 Posted 05/02/2021 at 13:30:02
We have been well and truly beaten in the last two games in the main because we haven’t been able to deal with their midfield. Pogba, Fernandes and McTominay is a very strong midfield and probably as strong as any in the Premier League currently.

It will be interesting what different looks like. Maybe either Holgate or Gordon holding and trying to overload the midfield area.

Derek Knox
2 Posted 05/02/2021 at 14:26:48
The Leeds game has certainly rejuvenated my interest, after having it almost destroyed by virtue of the Newcastle game at Goodison. It was only when the stats emerged after Wednesday that I realised how good our away form was in comparison to home. Still can't fathom why, on that one to be honest, and against a struggling and inconsistent Barcode outfit, surely it wasn't asking a lot.

However, water under bridges and all that, it will be interesting to see how much of Lyndon's projected team will actually start. I have been reading that Allan is very close to return, and possibly available for this match. Which beggars the question do you change (barring injuries and suspensions) a winning side?

Having said that, we were almost a Jekyll and Hyde side again against Leeds, first half dominant, and well worth the two goal lead, second half almost complacent, allowed Leeds back in, and without Olsen's heroics it could have been a different story, thankfully it wasn't. We still lack that killer instinct!

Paul Jones
3 Posted 05/02/2021 at 14:27:04
I believe given his performance Olsen should remain in the team and continue to do so until form merits he should be replaced.
John Keating
4 Posted 05/02/2021 at 14:29:50
Personally I’d go with the more played back 4 of Holgate, Mina, Keane and Godfrey
Midfield of Richie, Doucoure, Sigi and Digne
James playing just behind DCL
As Lyndon mentions keeping Fernandes quiet will be a key point and I think Sigi can do that.
Our away form has so far been excellent so no reason not to be confident tomorrow.
Please please keep switched on especially the opening 10 minutes of both halves. We seem to take a while to get up to speed
Jamie Crowley
5 Posted 05/02/2021 at 14:34:08
I like Lyndon's lineup, with one exception.

I'd put Keane next to Mina, Godfrey at LB, and push Digne up to LM.

I'd actually put Rich on the bench and he can come on as an impact sub.

Robert Tressell
6 Posted 05/02/2021 at 14:35:36
Derek, I think our home form is poor because unless everyone is fully fit and on form we struggle to break teams down. Away from home the opposition tends to attack us more, allowing us to soak up pressure and counter. We're much more suited to that, especially with a patched up team (and we've been heavily patched up since about 5 games into the season).

A better home record requires a better attack - and possibly also the return of an intimidating crowd.

Christopher Timmins
7 Posted 05/02/2021 at 14:39:49
I expect more rotation given the schedule over the next two weeks. Hopefully, the game will follow the same pattern as those against Wolves, Leicester and Leeds.

Manchester prefer to play on the break so we will probably play that bit deeper and make things difficult for them. If Sheffield could take 3 points from their visit so can we.

Nicolas Piñon
8 Posted 05/02/2021 at 14:44:48
tomorrow is a very difficult game
Would settle for a point largely
Wouldnt put any passengers from the start (Gomes, James, sigurdson) but not for dislike but because tomorrow we won’t see much of the ball and we’ll have to run a lot.
My team would be
Olsen; Holgate, Mina, Keane, Godfrey; Richarlison/Iwobi, Davies/Delph, Doucoure and Digne; King and Calvert Lewin.
Anyway I’m pessimistic about it really. They have loads of talent everywhere (future champions for me) and Fernandes always seems to get to free spaces against us.
Allan is not ready for it Carlo said in press conference. If that’s a mind game then my hopes would change. But it would sound weird.
Derek Wadeson
9 Posted 05/02/2021 at 14:55:24
Lyndon's first line.
Everton take their excellent record away from home

Everton and excellent in the same sentence, amazing. Maybe the manager has something to do with it, because the previous few didn't.

Pete Williams
10 Posted 05/02/2021 at 14:56:29
Glad to see Olsen stays in, but Carlo says there will be rotation. Thing is he's got so many options now it's hard to predict what he'll do which will be a headache for Utd. Carlo can probably predict the Utd line up though so he can vary things to deal with them.

Personally I think he could keep his four centre backs defence with Doucoure and Gomes in front, then a three of Richie, James and King behind Dom up front. Aim to burn Utd with pace by using space behind their full backs in fast breaks. Itd be wonderful if we could really get at them and see what happens. However, Carlo could vary it so much it's almost pointless trying to predict the team.

I just hope whoever plays they turn up for the full 90. We can't afford passengers or a generally relaxed attitude. Everyone will need to be quick and sharp, or else Carlo will start shouting again!

Thomas Richards
11 Posted 05/02/2021 at 15:01:18
Goals in that predicted line up.
Solid back four and plenty of threat.
Looking forward to this one.
Richard Mason
12 Posted 05/02/2021 at 15:03:30
Back 3 tomorrow, Keane Mina and Godfrey, Holgate and Digne wingbacks, dacoure and Gomes in the middle, and play DCL and king up top. 2 big CFs to bully UTD CBs.
Danny O’Neill
13 Posted 05/02/2021 at 15:04:09
Likely that home advantage has been lost. Hasn't United also got some sort of ridiculously impressive away record but not so at home? I haven't looked, just what I've read over recent weeks.
Jay Harris
14 Posted 05/02/2021 at 15:04:28
I don't think we should build up expectations too much for this one although I certainly will look for the 3 points. United are an expensively assembled side and are always up for it against us

Before the RS eroded our status and City started to dismantle theirs this was always the biggest fixture in the Northwest so our lot need to puff their chests out and not be intimidated.

I see Harry Maguire has already started the mind games by suggesting DCL is over physical. Lets hope he embarrasses the big lump of shite tomorrow.

I never thought I would say this but Gomes did so well on Wednesday I would give him a run again tomorrow and although I feel Siggy has been the subject of over the top criticism this season he should sit this one out because he does not suit a fast paced game.

I thought Godfrey looked better at LB than RB but its a tossup between Coleman and Holgate at RB.

So for me it is

Coleman Kean Mina Godfrey
Iwobi (King) Doucoure Gomes Digne
James DCL

Brian Harrison
15 Posted 05/02/2021 at 15:08:11
Man Utd have been excellent away but have struggled at home, so hopefully they might do the same tomorrow. Seems quite a few teams are having more success away than they are at home, I don't think I can ever remember so many teams winning away from home, its like because there are no crowds the home team isn't getting that lift from supporters and equally away teams don't feel under pressure from the home supporters. I know some posters have said they have made a few bob backing us in games this season, but I never back a game involving us, come to think about it I have gambled loads on horses but never on a football match.

Ancelotti while confirming Olsen starts in goal has said that he will rotate, so it will be interesting to see which team he selects. I know sometimes this season after the team has been announced some posters have critisized the selection predicting a walkover for the opposition, but quite often what seemed like a strange selection has often come up trumps. So whatever side Carlo picks I am hoping it will have the desired effect.

Dave Leeson
16 Posted 05/02/2021 at 15:13:30
Got to love Carlo.

We have played them twice and lost... and, if we don't change, we will lose again.

Steve Shave
17 Posted 05/02/2021 at 15:21:46
Richard 11 I would play 3 at the back too except I would play Iwobi as RWB as he has done well in that role previously. I wouldn't drop Richy for King just yet but he sure does need a rocket up his arse, sulky prick.
Fran Mitchell
18 Posted 05/02/2021 at 15:22:10
Expect some rotation. Neutralising und's left hand side (which ripped the shite apart in the FA cup), and keeping Fernandes quiet is key to this game.

Not too sure on Holgate Vs Rashford... asking for a penalty and free kicks near the area. I'd prefer Godfrey on the right, Keane and Mina in the middle and Digne on the left.

Can see Davies coming in. Gomes was excellent, but does he have it in him to play again? Him, Doucoure and Sigurdsson to close space in the middle (unless Allan makes a surprise return).

Then it comes the tricky part and depends on how we set up to play. Iwobi, Richy, And DCL would provide more protection - Iwobi giving support to the righ back in tracking Rashford and Shaw. Maybe rest Richy, have James focus his link play with Digne.

Ancelotti said 'we need to try something different to the other games, or we will lose' so will be interesting to see what his plan is.

Utd have surprised a few, but as a team they are dependent on 'magic' from their star players. There is no distinct way of playing. So long as we neutralise the main players, play with discipline, we can win this.

Their defence leaves much to be desired, so DCL can certainly get a goal.

But part of me can see this finishing 0-0.

Tom Bowers
19 Posted 05/02/2021 at 15:36:38
I think it all comes down to how they approach the game from the off. If they sit back and try to take some early sting out of Manure's attack they can come undone.

Most teams try to do this and one or two will succeed and get a result but just look at what happened to Spurs yesterday.
They sat back, went behind and never recovered, all down to Mourinho's mismanagement of the game.

If Everton come out with a positive attitude they can surprise Manure just as The Blades did.

The midfield needs to be up for this in order to get any reward and unfortunately that is the area where we are most inconsistent.

John Boon
20 Posted 05/02/2021 at 15:40:57
Godfrey just has to play. I think Holgate offers very little at right back and although I think we badly need a new right back we just are not going to get one. For that reason I hope to see Godfrey at right back because he now seems to have totallly adjusted to his new team.He makes me confident wherever he plays.

For the rest of the team I would like to see King included. How that is to be done is in the capable hands of Ancelotti and I rely on his choices.I do think we have to be positive and we have a genuine chance of getting something from the game. This league is so inconsistent that NO result should be too surprising.

PS Please keep OLSEN so I can watch the game without being constantly on edge watching TWITCHY PICKY.

Thomas Roberts
21 Posted 05/02/2021 at 15:42:19
All I want to see is 11 warriors in Royal Blue, willing to put their bodies on the line for the club and its ever so loyal fans. Not only on Saturday but for the remaining games of the season.

This group of players may never have a better chance of Champions League qualification and all the money that brings to the club to assist squad improvement. I know that every game is different and we have to set up to counter the opposition but surely these players sense what could be achieved this season just like the fanbase does? If we fail, then make sure it's not through lack of effort.

More performances like the two against Newcastle just will not do. I genuinely believe that EFC fans are the most knowledgeable in the game and whilst we appreciate the School of Science mantra we also worship our Mick Lyons, Peter Reid types. I think we now have a couple of those as well.

Apart from Man City, there is nobody else to fear in this league so let's have a go in every match and see where it takes us.

As for tomorrow, watch for the diving in and around our penalty area and get after Maguire and Lindelof and we have a good chance of victory.

Julian Wait
22 Posted 05/02/2021 at 15:42:24
Anyone in the USA know if this is actually on NBCSN – my Hulu Live schedule currently shows the 6-nations as being on at that time!

Thomas Roberts
23 Posted 05/02/2021 at 15:47:50
Julian # 21. Yes, it is on NBCSN.
Graham Mockford
24 Posted 05/02/2021 at 15:48:55
On the basis that we keep losing games I expect to win, and winning games I think will be a struggle, we might be alright.
Gerry Quinn
25 Posted 05/02/2021 at 15:51:01
This game is being played on the 63rd anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster and only the 4th match to actually be played on that date. Ole has already discussed this with his squad and stated that he will make sure they perform exactly as they should – I hope Carlo takes that into account and makes sure Everton respectfully perform as well!
Mick Roberts
26 Posted 05/02/2021 at 15:51:49
Please, please, please, Mr Ancelotti, do not make the same mistake for a third time and go all defensive, inviting pressure – a sure-fire one-way ticket to conceding goals and the inevitable loss.
Martin Berry
27 Posted 05/02/2021 at 15:53:53
We have been decidedly second best to Man Utd in both games this season, a point surely not lost on Carlo, so hopefully he will have a cunning plan to rectify this.

Man Utd pass it very well and we will need a strong midfield to break up it, additionally pace on the flanks for counter-attacking that will give us a chance.

Kieran Kinsella
28 Posted 05/02/2021 at 16:03:37
Manchester United are poor at home because Ole likes to set them up as a counter-attacking side, which works well on the road, eg, PSG, but at home when the onus is on them to control play they're not as comfortable.

The Southampton game was an abberation in that respect but the two red cards and dubious refereeing obviously contributed to that. I think there is a decent chance this one will end in a 0-0 bore draw.

Eddie Dunn
29 Posted 05/02/2021 at 16:03:47
Manchester United are dangerous going forward and Shaw is having a great run. However they can be undone with Maguire and Lindelof prone to errors. We just need the confidence to exploit their weaknesses. Sitting deep and waiting for them to score is the wrong outlook.
Hugh Jenkins
31 Posted 05/02/2021 at 16:08:31
Brian (14). Yes - despite claims to the contrary about Carlo, he does seem to "know what he's doing".
Colin Battison
32 Posted 05/02/2021 at 16:12:09
This is an interesting one, I think we have to nullify Man Utd down their left, our right as Shaw and Rashford are dangerous together down that flank and have caused teams big problems. The obvious other threat is Bruno, if we can keep him relatively quiet then we have a great chance. Our counter-attacking first half against Leeds was great but 2nd half virtually non-existent; we have to be better in this one.

My team is:-

Godfrey, Mina, Keane, Digne
Doucouré, Gomes
King, Richarlison

Martin Mason
33 Posted 05/02/2021 at 16:18:54
I'm looking forward to the Man Utd game. I grew up un an area that was over 50% Manc and the bragging rights as big for the Man Utd games as for Liverpool games.

There was magnificent history of the games where we saw Best, Charlton and Law as well as Young, Ball and Harvey over the years and then they just left us behind. I don't want to see a back four of 4 central defenders, I want to see us play really well.

The tactics may well be based on not losing rather than winning though and they have been beaten by teams going there and parking the bus. I trust the coaches to pick the best team for the day and I hope for the win.

Chris Locke
34 Posted 05/02/2021 at 16:23:02
As always, it's tricky to say what our best eleven or formation would be for this game.

Personally, I think we need to have James on the pitch as his ball retention and passing ability more than make up for his lack of tracking back. Ideally he'll have a free role so that tracking back doesn't become an issue.

If I had to pick a team, it would be:

Holgate, Mina, Keane, Godfrey
Richarlison, Doucouré, Gomes, Digne
James, Calvert-Lewin

On a separate note, it's interesting how the FA have chosen to stay silent on Martial's dive despite them rescinding the red card for Bednarek. No retrospective action necessary apparently. Not even for a man that has plenty of previous.

Mike Gaynes
35 Posted 05/02/2021 at 16:25:51
I just want to crush these bums.

And that's the extent of my analysis.

Danny O’Neill
36 Posted 05/02/2021 at 16:27:34
Hadn't realised that Gerry. I've visited the Memorial to the air disaster a couple of times when I've passed through Munich on business or on my way to the Ski slopes. Very unassuming but humbling.

Sometimes the emotion of these occasions can have an adverse effect either through being overly pumped up or emotional. Think us when we played United at Goodison the day Howard Kendall died. I think that effect us.

Totally different scenario, but sometimes emotion can have an opposite impact on what you expect it to.

Bill Gall
37 Posted 05/02/2021 at 16:30:49
One thing ii will not try to do is guess what the team will be, as I don't think many of us who say what team they would like to see get it rite.
Listening to Ancelotti he plays different players, and different formations against different opponents. I suppose that is why when his team selections are announced with a couple of players omitted from the previous game there are howls of indignation of that team will never work.

No matter who he picks there will be the usual negative comments before the start. Personally I try to keep an open mind, and try to leave it until after the game with the comments,and even then I get that involved mentally during the game my comments are sometimes incorrect.

I always wonder how many other supporters wife's say to them " I don't now why you watch them if you get that upset " or you better calm down your blood pressure is going through the roof ". Amazing, living 4'000mls away watching on a TV screen, 80yrs old and still getting as emotional when I stood on the terraces. The only benefit I have is I can go out the house and walk around the block to calm down.

Lived in Canada since 1976, shudder to think how much it's cost to go back for games, even to Europe with the help from friends. Have a Canadian Citizenship but still call Liverpool Home but always say I am going back to watch Everton.

Funny experience after I got married : my wife is Catholic and I am Church of England " after a couple of nuns came around to ask me to change my religion and failed, they sent reinforcements with a priest, he came in and said I here you will not change and I said that's rite I am staying an Evertonian. He laughed said so am I and much to my wife's disgust all we talked about was football.

Jim Bennings
38 Posted 05/02/2021 at 16:41:59
The Red Mancs have long been our bogey team give or take one or two good wins during the Martinez era and of course that 4-0 thrashing when Marco Silva was here.

Interesting to see that Jon Moss is joing Harry Maguire to referee the match tomorrow, if anything to go by though Maguire will make most of the decisions, slab head could talk the ref into red carding Mary Poppins.

We need to just make sure we sit deep again tomorrow, give them nothing easy nothing cheap and if I was offered a point now I'd snap hands off.

Dale Self
39 Posted 05/02/2021 at 16:45:54
Nice Thomas! And Mike, just wondering, do you have that pin arrangement done for your Alex Ferguson doll?
Kevin Molloy
40 Posted 05/02/2021 at 16:49:16
If we win the next four games, we win the league.

it's a long time since we were in that position.


Dave Abrahams
41 Posted 05/02/2021 at 16:58:40
Bill (36), your last paragraph...

Me and my wife had the same experience with the priest at St Francis Xavier, trying to persuade my wife to change her religion. My wife told him she was happy as she was, she was getting instructions off the priest as we were getting married over in a Catholic Church so I could go to communion during mass. You couldn't get communion if you didn't get married in a Catholic Church in those days.

When we were getting ready for our 50th wedding anniversary a few years ago, I suggested (jokingly) “Shall we get married over again?”

She replied, not even jokingly, “No thanks, twice has been more than enough, but thanks for asking.”

“Please yourself,” I said, “I won't be asking again.”

“Thank God for that!” she said.

She can be very hurtful at times, my wife, broke my bleedin' heart that.

Darren Fellows
42 Posted 05/02/2021 at 17:01:26
I just hope we turn up against Man Utd. I wonder if dropping Godfrey in a holding midfield will help damp down their midfield? I do think he is capable in any position, the kid a has a great future ahead.
Mark Murphy
43 Posted 05/02/2021 at 17:02:55
I'd just like to slightly edit what I said pre-match on Wednesday:

If Carlo plays Sigurdsson and Gomes together in this one I will totally respect his judgement and recognise that I know fuck-all about football compared to him and settle back to enjoy the game.

If he doesn't play them, that's all right by me too, of course.


Jerome Shields
44 Posted 05/02/2021 at 17:05:21
This game will be won or lost in midfield. I hope Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin get their act together, after seeing King in training.
Mark Murphy
46 Posted 05/02/2021 at 17:06:49
Kevin @ 39
Errrr yer wha?
Did you miss out the “teen” after the four??
Terry White
47 Posted 05/02/2021 at 17:07:25
Jim (#37), I believe Maguire is suspended as he picked up his 5th yellow card in the 9-0 game v Southampton. At least I hope so as he has been dominating for them this season.
Kevin Molloy
48 Posted 05/02/2021 at 17:08:29
If we slot both Mancs plus win at Anfield, Mark, we will be unstoppable.
David Cooper
49 Posted 05/02/2021 at 17:09:09
Hi Bill #36. Came to Canada in 1990. Live in Mississauga. Where are you? Would be great to talk to a real blue!
Danny O’Neill
50 Posted 05/02/2021 at 17:13:24
Bill, my wife is from the West Midlands and has never understood me or Evertonians. It's the one thing we both agreed can never be changed. No give an take there. Everton are my Camilla - non negotiable.

Opposite to you, I'm the Catholic in the family, my wife is Methodist and my mother was Church of England. I believe she got a visit from the Priest from St Christopher's in Speke pretty much instructing her that her children had to be christened Catholic and that I was to be Daniel, not Danny.

I like you am now living away; not quite Canada, London. But Liverpool is home. I think I've said this before, but I loved Kingston in Ontario. Great place.

Danny O’Neill
51 Posted 05/02/2021 at 17:22:34
Mark that made me laugh out loud.

Trying not to go there. The debate about negativity on team selection almost caused civil war on the post Leeds thread after a very good win.

Only Evertonians! Let anyone claim they are more passionate than us!!

Mike Gaynes
52 Posted 05/02/2021 at 17:33:35
Dave #41 my friend, apparently your wife and mine both went to the same school of Husband Ego Deflation. Mine told me on our wedding day that I looked very handsome. Hasn't repeated the remark in 15 years. Keeps saying there's a reason we're together. Apparently can't figure out what it is.

Dale #39, I don't use pins for my Alex doll. I use a cigarette lighter. That's how the bastard's face got so red. And his nose has that slightly melted look. This voodoo stuff really works.

Derek Knox
53 Posted 05/02/2021 at 17:33:48
Bill @ 37, good story there, they obviously weren't Blue Nuns! :-)
Roger Helm
54 Posted 05/02/2021 at 17:41:14
Olsen and Godfrey should be the first names on the sheet. Both teams in good form so it is difficult to call - it depends which Everton turns up. We have the players to win it, so the bookies' 6/1 EFC to win the other day looks generous.

I expect the pace to be a bit less frantic than at Leeds so hopefully James will start. If we are serious about getting to the top four, these are the games we have to start winning.

Mike Gaynes
55 Posted 05/02/2021 at 17:44:23
I'm just heartbroken that we couldn't get the Oviedo loan deal completed before the window closed.

One of my top 5 happiest Blue moments ever. The legend of Baby At The Back Post:

Mike Oates
56 Posted 05/02/2021 at 17:44:50
They'll have Rashford and Shaw bombing down their left, and we just have to be ready for them. No good having Rodriquez on the right, he'll not cope with those two against him. I'd have Godfrey and Iwobi as our right-hand side pair, both pacy, and Shaw won't bully Godfrey.

Then we have to win the physical battle against Fred and McTominay. We'll need Doucouré and Gomes on top form to win that battle. This then leaves Fernandes to deal with, and frankly I don't see anyone doing a job on him, unless he plays Holgate just in front of back 4. Fernandes just floats where he wants to, causing mayhem in last game against us. It leaves them with Greenwood or Pogba; if Greenwood, then Digne will need to be sharp, but with Richarlison's support, he'll be taken care of. If Pogba, then again a floater to deal with, somehow.

What I'm leading to is that, if we play defensively, then we have to play:

Olsen, Godfrey, Mina, Keane, Digne, Iwobi, Gomes, Doucouré, Richarlison and Holgate. This leaves space for Calvert-Lewin... ie, leave Rodriquez and Sigurdsson out. Can we score without Rodriquez? Yes, if we can just win that centre-midfield battle, we can create.

Or we go for them and drop Holgate and Gomes, replace with Rodriquez or Sigurdsson playing in the No 10 role. Rodriquez is a luxury player who can't, won't defend, or cover... brilliant when we are on top in any game, won the midfield battle and looking to create. Against a team which will come at you with pace, energy (similar to Leeds), he just can't dictate play. So sorry, James, you're out.

Rob Birks
57 Posted 05/02/2021 at 17:47:09
whatever the team is I think it's about time we don't roll over and show them what we're about. Somebody, early doors, clatter (hard and fair / unfair if ref is looking away) Fernandes!

Sick to death losing to these utter prima donnas!

Phil (Kelsall) Roberts
58 Posted 05/02/2021 at 17:49:55
Mike #56. I think that is a knife you are taking to this gunfight.
Steavey Buckley
59 Posted 05/02/2021 at 17:56:29
The strength of the Everton team tomorrow will be the back four of Holgate Mina Keane Godfrey they allow more expansive attacking players to get forward given the cover that was not allowed when Coleman and Digne are the full backs.

Everton's defence could have been made stronger if Branthwaite was not allowed to go out on loan because he is a proven EPL centre half who already has earned Blackburn 7 points from 3 games with just one goal conceded. Last season Branthwaite played well and was MOM.

Proven players should never got out on loan they are too valuable when other players can get injured and suspended. By all means, the manager should send out players on loan who have not proven themselves enough such as Gordon, Kenny and Baningime.

Bobby Mallon
60 Posted 05/02/2021 at 18:01:58
Pickford is out. I think sigi and Iwobi will miss out tomorrow and Carlo will start King and Rodriguez as our only changes and that’s after listening to his press conference and him saying he’s going to change it tomorrow
Graham Hammond
61 Posted 05/02/2021 at 18:03:03
Like the team from Mike Oates #56. I would go 4-1-4-1:

Godfrey Mina Keane Digne
Iwobi Doucoure Gomes Richarlison

Very tight call between Gomes and Davies for the second central midfield slot. Holgate and Godfrey can be swapped if Fernandes needs sorting out, Ben is the man to do it!

Steve Hogan
62 Posted 05/02/2021 at 18:03:28
Steavey (59)

Re Branthwaite, how is he a proven EPL centre half? How many full games did he start for us? Potential yes, but proven CH, think that's stretching it a bit.

Derek Knox
63 Posted 05/02/2021 at 18:12:23
Phil @ 58, nothing wrong with taking a knife to a gunfight. "What" I hear you ask?

Provided it is in the form of a Bayonet (still technically a type of knife) attached to an AK 47!

Simples! Bring it on. :-)

Mike Gaynes
64 Posted 05/02/2021 at 18:16:14
Off-topic -- well, there goes my favorite candidate to replace Pickford this summer:

And back on topic: Steavey #59, how can Branthwaite be a "proven EPL centre half" after just 4 EPL appearances, in two of which he was subbed off, and only one of which we won?

John Keating
65 Posted 05/02/2021 at 18:26:10
Dave 41
Jesuits Dave. Very difficult
Should have gone the Friary. Fr. John hard as nails, local lad and would have understood
Darren Hind
66 Posted 05/02/2021 at 18:26:49
11/2 Guys. fucken ell.

I'll deffo have a little nibble there

Bill Fairfield
67 Posted 05/02/2021 at 18:26:54
Just hope Richy turns up tomorrow,for once
Bobby Mallon
68 Posted 05/02/2021 at 18:33:33
Bill Gall, that was a great story loved it.
Bobby Mallon
69 Posted 05/02/2021 at 18:41:32
Darren Hind I’m having £10 on that and £10 on 2.0 @ 33/1 Bet 365
Dale Self
70 Posted 05/02/2021 at 18:41:40
Thanks for pointing that out Bobby, yeah Bill nice touch. Everton is magic, childhood magic for old men.
Danny O’Neill
71 Posted 05/02/2021 at 18:47:05
Seeing 5-1. Don't bet on Everton but I'm tempted
Thomas Richards
72 Posted 05/02/2021 at 18:47:41
Get on quick Bobby the 11/2 has gone.

Well overpriced imo.
Im taking the 5s generally available.

Tony Everan
73 Posted 05/02/2021 at 18:55:15
Godfrey Keane Mina Digne
Doucoure Holgate* Gomes
James DCL Richarlison

* probably too soon for Allan.

Holgate is a committed, strong, tenacious player and he has a winning mentality. I want him in the team. Alternatively, I think Tom Davies has been doing Ok there.

I think James has to start ahead of Iwobi. James will not be overawed and will take the game in his stride. He could make all the difference tomorrow. Carlo could introduce Iwobi for the last 20-30 mins for him.

Olalekan Taofik
74 Posted 05/02/2021 at 18:57:43
Good day fellows,
I think is going to be a difficult game and the pressure will be much felt by the Red devils as they will try to repeat what happened at the last two meetings between us.
But the blues away record is quite intimidating and too scary for the Reds. I see us winning the battle if we can tame Fernandes led midfield.
Let the team remain focus and make use of all our chances.
I predict 2-1 victory for Everton.
Danny O’Neill
75 Posted 05/02/2021 at 19:05:38
Not sure about the recent obsession with Holgate in Midfield when we have all previously generally agreed on the downside of square pegs in round holes.

Genuiny intrigued to understand the viewpoint though.

Thomas Richards
76 Posted 05/02/2021 at 19:10:31
Good day

I agree, tough game tomorrow.
Like yourself I am looking forward to the game.
Its a game we can win, its a game I think we will win

Dale Self
77 Posted 05/02/2021 at 19:13:45
Agree Danny, keep that back four in their preferred positions while they are playing with such confidence although Godfrey can def handle an occasional switch.
Off topic: Zidane crying for respect, Kloppy taking a cheap swipe at Pep, Mourinho pleading that spurs are doing their best...We are not in bad shape to make a run at these nervous tits.
Bill Gall
78 Posted 05/02/2021 at 19:21:53
David # 49
Hi Dave I live in Sussex New Brunswick been here since 1986 lived in
Saskatchewan before that. I have a granddaughter who lives and works in the Gravenhurst area, and hope if this pandemic allows get us to get up there in the fall, You have a true blue living near you, John Boon, He lives in the Niagara Region I don't now if you have ever been in touch. Never come across or met anyone with Everton clothing on in N.B.
Christy Ring
79 Posted 05/02/2021 at 19:21:57
After Godfrey's MoM performance at centreback against Leeds, how can we move him. I'd play Davies beside Docoure and Gomes and rest Siggy.
Mike Gaynes
80 Posted 05/02/2021 at 19:26:29
Danny #75, agreed, it's not a new obsession by any means but it keeps popping up, and it bewilders me too. The path to victory at Old Trafford is to plug Mason into a position he's played exactly ONCE in his entire Prem career?

Based on what? The idea that he should be able to play it because he's a good tackler?

Maybe we should put Mina in goal, because he's taller than Picks or Olsen and will cut out crosses better. Or Keane at striker because he can score so well with his head.

Bobby Mallon
82 Posted 05/02/2021 at 19:31:33
Bill Gall and the rest of you Canadian fellow blues. Where you in the army and stayed in Canada or just moved. I had fantastic tours in Batus. Loved Medicine Hat and Oreillys bar.
David Hayes
83 Posted 05/02/2021 at 19:35:07
Looking at King in his interview the other day, sorry to say he looked totally out of condition compared with the inserted photo from last season. He will need time to get back to prem fitness levels. But when ready an effective addition.
Tony Abrahams
84 Posted 05/02/2021 at 19:37:06
Would not surprise me to see us play 5-3-2 tomorrow, maybe not, but United, have dominated us twice, and having two up front, might just help us put a bit more pressure on their back four.
Kevin Prytherch
85 Posted 05/02/2021 at 19:38:06
Contrary to popular opinion

This game is tailor made for Sigurdsson in the number 10 in a 4-2-3-1. Although that would mean leaving James on the bench again.
Utd will control the game so quick counters with Richarlison, Iwobi and DCL making runs are the way forward.

4-4-2 when defending, 4-2-3-1 when attacking, centre midfield holds its position.

Nick Strong
86 Posted 05/02/2021 at 19:38:11
Pickford is a disaster waiting to happen in this match. He can’t handle the important ones his head goes.
Olsen seems to be much more relaxed maybe not as agile getting down quickly but definitely a steady pair of hands which is what we need against the Mancs because one daft mistake could cost us the 3 points
Bill Gall
87 Posted 05/02/2021 at 19:45:45
Bobby # 82

I was not in the army, and missed being called up when I was 18 as I was serving an apprenticeship. The call-up finished I believe in August or September 1961 and I missed that as my 21st birthday was in October.

The closest I got to the armed forces was my apprenticeship as I was a heavy duty mechanic, and all the vehicles we repaired were military, from Land Rovers to Thorneycroft Antars that were used to tow Queen Mary trailers that carried tanks. I went to Canada on a job offer.

Danny O’Neill
88 Posted 05/02/2021 at 19:46:02
Can I tweak your 5-3-2 to a 3-5-2 Tony?

Possibly switch between the two based on being in possession and having to defend

Tony Hill
89 Posted 05/02/2021 at 19:50:33
Tim Howard continues to distinguish himself as our ambassador in the US. Man United the biggest club in the world, Everton the greatest club in the world, he says.

He's never once put a word wrong about us, a model of grace and humility and a fabulous Blue.

John Boon
90 Posted 05/02/2021 at 19:51:15
Hi Dave (49) I am a true true Blue who has been in Canada since 1963 at the age of 24. Bill(70) has also communicated with me via TW as has John MacFarlane although he resides in the Uk. I live twenty minutes from Niagara Falls. Through my Evertonism (is there such a word) I have Two adult sons John Everton and Andrew Goodison. My wife vetoed "Gladys" for our daughter.

Would be great to win on the weekend. I was noticing some TW ers talking about SFX and tough priests etc. The Jesuits had nothing on the Christian Brothers. I went to St Edwards where it was difficult to go through a week without being battered with the strap or whatever else was at hand.. However I actually smile about it when my grandchildren complain about getting a detention. No one EVER went home and complained.

As a teen I often went to away games on my bike. Always round trips to the likes of Manchester, Blackpool, Bolton and one crazy trip to Burnley when I got stopped five times for not having lights. I was usually with other loony teenage Blues.

One more time.PLEASE WIN ON THE WEEKEND. My wife is like Bills. She has asked me to warn her when Everton are playing so she can go out for a two hour walk to escape the insanity.

Brian Murray
91 Posted 05/02/2021 at 19:56:01
Be careful blue boys. If we are frustrating them or ahead well Fernandes is from the salah school of diving. Leave to Carlo to pick bones out of formation Even if a central half in midfield he gets it right more often than not.
Brendan McLaughlin
92 Posted 05/02/2021 at 19:59:15
Surely not David #83
King made the bench against Leeds and was brought on for the last 10/15. Hardly how Carlo & crew would handle a player "totally out of condition"?
Tony Hill
93 Posted 05/02/2021 at 20:04:21
I think David @83 is right. King looked unfit and overweight on Wednesday but these days the sports scientists etc. will get him up to speed very quickly. He's also just rusty.

No problem.

Jay Harris
94 Posted 05/02/2021 at 20:06:00
I have to disagree with the level of punishment being harder at St Edwards.

The Ferrula (A leather strap with whalebone inserts) was the weapon of choice by the Priests at SFX and believe you me it stung like hell for hours.

We used to have a pal running the hot and cold taps in the bathroom so we could rush in for some relief.

Graham Hammond
95 Posted 05/02/2021 at 20:12:23
Mike #80. I think Mason Holgate did well against United at Old Trafford playing as a Defensive Midfielder so I see no reason whatsoever why he cannot sit in front of the back four centrally to anchor the team, in my opinion, Andre Gomes and Sigurdsson are unfit for purpose in that position that's for sure. As I said in my previous post, Mason can be interchanged with Ben if needs be. The point of my last post is (and the point I am making) is that they are footballers each with a different skill set, Mason has qualities and a skill set that would allow him (potentially at least) to do well as a defensive midfielder. You said yourself some time ago that we need pace in the side and that we were the slowest in the Premier League, well that ain't gonna change with Sigurdsson and James in the starting eleven, very little pace in them two and little tracking back with JR. It is rather pointless having two guys who are good or very good on the ball if we hardly have possession or much of the ball in the first place, it's a bit like Norman Whiteside all over again, great on the ball, will not lose possession but cannot run. Against stronger teams, if we let them play (as we invariably have in the past with no pace and little application) then we get slaughtered. We need a line-up tomorrow with as much pace, strength, desire and ability to close down as possible otherwise another defeat will follow. Last season, Holgate was one of our very best players centrally down the spine of the team, he has relative speed and covers the ground with relative ease and likes a tackle and can drop in and drop back when necessary, I believe he can do a job there, it is not a case of square pegs and round holes, he is a versatile footballer who can be used in multiple positions as was the case at West Brom, same with Ben Godfrey. I think Mason deserves at least one chance and the opportunity to thrive in a position where we have struggled, Bruno needs taking care of and Doucoure is better utilised as a box to box player driving forward as well as back.
Bill Gall
96 Posted 05/02/2021 at 20:21:08
I guess I was lucky all we got was the cane. When I said it didn't hurt, my dad said he was not surprised as where there was no sense there was no feeling, oh I did get a glancing blow from a flying blackboard duster.

Back to the game. The Leeds game was a good experience for the Utd game as I don't think their are many other team in the league, who press as hard as Leeds for 90min. Their problem is they get everyone involved and leave themselves weak at the back for counter attacks.

We have to put the same type of effort in as the Leeds game but keep it tight at the back. I have said before its great having the skills but it is wasted without the effort. Another 3pts please these sh----t pundits are already on about how great Chelsea are under new management

Joe Cavanagh
97 Posted 05/02/2021 at 20:25:51
Hi John (#90) and Jay (#94). I was at St Edwards from 65 to 71 and remember being on the receiving end of the leather strap from the Christian Brothers on many an occasion. I was at St Christopher's in Speke before going to St Edwards after the 11-plus. I well remember getting caned there too, from age 7 onwards. Looking back on it, you realise how inhuman it was - and I'm not sure which was worse, the strap or the cane.

It's not like I was a trouble-maker at School - far from it - but at least twice I took the rap for someone else. The teachers didn't seem interested in justice, but someone had to pay for a misdemeanour. To this day, I burn with indignation whenever I am accused of something I didn't do.

On a lighter note, I do recall that the Christian Brothers had a block of season tickets at Goodison, so they can't have been all bad. And a Guinness tanker used to arrive at the School every week, to top up the supplies!

Ah well, these days I watch Everton games here in Brazil, where I've been for the last 10 years. My better half knows when to leave the house, as I scream blue murder at the screen when Everton are playing. The thing that gets me going most recently is our inability to retain possession for more than 3 passes or 10 seconds..

Mark Murphy
98 Posted 05/02/2021 at 20:33:16
Something tells me Holgate a centre half
Please stop this play him in centre mid stuff. He played once there and had a good game but he’s a centre half. Steve Watson got a hat trick once but he was a full back and went back to full back as fast as we could shift him.
Jason Li
99 Posted 05/02/2021 at 20:37:23
Keep front 3 + Pogba and Fernandes quiet, then it's up to us to create a few chances to snatch it.

4-5-1 could close all the gaps around the penalty box and hit on the counter.

Sound simple? Or not? Let's see what Mr Ancelotti comes up with this time.

Andy Crooks
100 Posted 05/02/2021 at 20:41:56
Where are you guys getting your odds? My bookmaker has offered 7/2. I actually only bet when there is value and
if I got 4/1 I would go for it. Don't want to set up a new account, though.
Danny O’Neill
101 Posted 05/02/2021 at 20:50:00
Got mine on Paddy Power. But that was an hour or so ago Andy
Steavey Buckley
102 Posted 05/02/2021 at 20:52:21
Steve #62 & Mike #64. Everton have become much harder to beat and gained far more victories since Holgate and Godfrey became full backs. Not only are they good footballers but they add much needed height and strength for both penalty areas when it comes to corners and free kicks.

Newcastle scored their first goal at Everton when Keane and Godfrey were missing from the line up. But when Godfrey was restored to full back against Leeds, not only did he play well but made a goal for Calvin Lewin to head home.

Branthwaite only played 4 games last season because he was only signed in January 2020 and then played when the EPL resumed in the summer because of covid. But Ancelotti had no hesitation naming him on the subs bench for a player such young. Yet, in those games he showed he is comfortable on the ball and makes defending look relatively easy. It should also pointed out, Everton have dipped into the championship to find gems most notably Tim Cahill and Lescott.

At the moment, Branthwaite is now that gem at Blackburn, who could have been used as games mount up for Everton in the next couple of months when surely both Mina and Keane will get injured, need a break or get suspended.

Graham Hammond
103 Posted 05/02/2021 at 20:56:49
Joe #97. Interesting that you point out our inability to retain possession, I think it is my biggest gripe watching Everton, even with our supposed world-class manager, we frequently seem unable to retain possession, seem unable to motivate players to go over to and help the guy on the ball. For a very long time now at Everton, we have often bought skilful players, often bought short arses and nearly always had players devoid of pace and very often players with little footballing intellect and understanding. Even now, we all watch the games, a ball is played into feet and you can almost feel a collective folding of the arms from the other players ie get on with it mate, my job is done here! If you were to freeze the action the second an Everton guy is given the ball, what are his options nearby and what easy options does he have and what high percentage of retaining possession options are there for him, usually precious few if any. To me it all boils down to desire, any experienced and intelligent footballer knows that he has to move and find space and open up angles and leave his opponent and go as close as possible to his teammate, if he doesn't or cannot be arsed then possession is invariably lost, even under Carlo the gaps between the Everton players when we are in possession and therefore the options available are often shocking and appalling.
Graham Hammond
105 Posted 05/02/2021 at 21:19:28
Mark #98.

Mason Holgate's best position could very well be at centre-back; however, only a fool would break up the Keane and Mina partnership now they are doing so well.

I believe that young players need to play for them to progress and us to progress, we have lost far too much young talent in recent times by buying them and then not utilising them a great deal... think Vlasic, Barkley, Lookman, Kean etc. We could very easily have lost Mason at one point also too.

Talented young players want and expect to play; if they don't, then they will fuck off elsewhere or at least go to where they feel wanted. I want Mason in the side as things stand and want him and us to progress.

You talk about Watson and his hat-trick against Leeds, well actually this proves my point, Steve was a good footballer who again was versatile precisely because he was a good footballer. In actual fact, he was a rather average full-back because, for all his footballing nous, he lacked pace and few fullbacks excel in the more modern game in that position without pace or very strong players around them.

Watson was a footballer in much the same way as Holgate: both are or were versatile. What he was not necessarily was a nailed-on fullback. His showing upfront proved that as did his performances for Everton on the right-hand side of midfield; he did at least equally well in those other positions mentioned.

Graham Hammond
106 Posted 05/02/2021 at 21:24:17
Further to my last post, then yes, obviously, Keane and Mina could be broken up but probably only for the inclusion of Godfrey who for me is the very first name on our teamsheet, regardless of where he plays.
Mike Gaynes
107 Posted 05/02/2021 at 21:26:34
Tony #89, amen.

Steavey #102, I have no doubt at all that Branthwaite can become a top Premier League centre-back. Right now I think he's much better off playing for Rovers than sitting for us, and Carlo obviously feels that way or he wouldn't have loaned him out. We have more than adequate cover at centre-back and across the back line right now.

David Cooper
108 Posted 05/02/2021 at 21:39:21
Hi John #90,

Thanks for getting back to me. It's great to know there are a few blues close by! I even bumped into one up a mountain in Vancouver with his EFC bobble hat on!

If you ever feel like sharing your happiness or pain, my email is davidbcooper1952@

Hope it is safe to put that information on TW.

Tom Bowers
109 Posted 05/02/2021 at 21:50:05
I think Everton have a good selection for the central defensive positions and it all depends on which two Carlo picks for any given game.

If teams come with a quick wide player then the right side will come down to Seamus or Holgate but Seamus whilst still a decent player has seen his best days particularly as a raiding full back.

However, Digne has shown he is an asset raiding down the left and his crosses are really good and then there is Godfrey who is a real find.

If we can only get some real steel in the midfield on a consistent basis then I think next season could be really fruitful.

They have some talent in that area and James is playing better but if they can get a Roy Keane or Peter Reid type in there then it would make a difference.

When Alan and even Gbamin get 100% fit again then we may even see a difference this season with some luck.

The addition of the experienced King is another reason the second half of the season bodes well.

The games this month will be tough to get points from apart from Fulham but there have been several surprising results elsewhere so why not a few more.

Tony Everan
110 Posted 05/02/2021 at 22:08:09
Graham 105.

I think part of our issue about retaining possession and always being in a sort of panic mode is that the crucial central midfield position has been compromised since Allan's injury. For that position, a team needs a lynchpin; a tough, resilient and confident footballer.

Carlo said he has considered Holgate playing there, also Godfrey before the Leicester match, but chose Davies. I would like Holgate there ahead of Davies as he is more of a fighter and more physically dominant and intimidating than Tom. I think he would add a bit of solidity and stability to the midfield.

I think Carlo has already set the precedent with this, though, and Davies will start there. I think Tom has been better this season and his overall game is improving and he's reading the game a bit better, so I won't be disappointed with his inclusion.

Anyway, next week, Allan will be back, and that will be that.

Danny O’Neill
111 Posted 05/02/2021 at 22:19:41
Godfrey and Mina for me Graham. If we go with 3, add Keane to that.

Just make sure Godfrey is the one sweeping up. Keane and Mina the markers who go for the header or marke the man, Godfrey covering the space and danger.

Tony Hill
112 Posted 05/02/2021 at 22:22:15
It's in the mind. We ambushed Leeds by going after them high up, against expectation, in the first half. There may be other ways of going after Ole's United but the belief that we can actually win is crucial.

Dither, drip and dodge, as we did in the League Cup against them, and we will lose.

All in the mind, every game. That's why the so-called "negatives" are the "positives", of course. We don't smooth away the tameness with vague references to future windows and patience. We expect and demand the win and the courage, every single time.

Vacuous optimism is a charter for defeat, as we have painfully witnessed over the last several decades and beyond.

It can be done, without excuses.

Paul Birmingham
113 Posted 05/02/2021 at 22:25:39
Massive game, for Everton, and let’s hope Everton, can keep their focus and organisatio, and keep the away form going.

Let United hype up the press and worry about us. If we can get good deliveries in and at the right time, to this box, and flanks, and play to Everton’s strengths and keep their defence turning then Everton can win.

Gonna be interesting to see the starting shape and who starts, but United have not been as good at home as they are away.

Looking forward and Everton, to get stuck in and take no crap, from United. Let them know we are their and squash their space, and counter with belief.


Graham Hammond
114 Posted 05/02/2021 at 22:33:39
Tony #110.

I would broadly agree with all you have said but I do think the ability to retain possession (and work very hard off the ball) is very important and is not really being improved on or addressed despite having better players and what would seem to be a better manager.

I think you are right to commend Tom Davies; he has been quietly impressive at times this season and is seemingly and hopefully on an upward curve as I think he needs to be given the competition we now have in the squad.

I do feel that having a 4-1-4-1 formation could very well work well for us and could allow Mason Holgate, Allan and Doucouré to occupy the three central Midfield spots. Although Allan would be in my best starting eleven, all things being equal, I would caution against changing a winning side just to accommodate a player returning from injury after a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

I certainly do not think that either Sigurdsson or Gomes should be considered again in the defensive midfield slots assuming the 4-2-3-1 formation that Carlo often seems to favour.

Danny O’Neill
115 Posted 05/02/2021 at 22:39:56
Sorry guys, I'm still not seeing the case for playing a defender in midfield when we have midfielders available.

Honestly, I'm not trying to be argumentative here, I just don't see it.

Roman Sidey
116 Posted 05/02/2021 at 22:41:41
Mark Murphy, 43, that's good. Got a laugh out of me.

Danny O'Neill, is your judgment of Kingston, Ontario based off the strip club there or the scenery? It's one of those towns/cities I've been to a few times but remember only short flashes.

Tony Hill
117 Posted 05/02/2021 at 22:44:57
Playing Holgate or Godfrey in midfield against one of the best midfields in the league would be a work of idiocy.

Holgate has not, in fact, been playing very well technically, and I am a great admirer. Godfrey is a wonderful prospect but he has much to learn about his all-round game even as a defender; he has precisely no record as a premier league midfielder.

If we're going to do well tomorrow, it will not be through the medium of fantasy.

Dale Self
118 Posted 05/02/2021 at 22:51:14
Dunc for the pre-game talk?
Danny O’Neill
119 Posted 05/02/2021 at 22:52:07
Haha, Roman. Scenery and the history. I honestly (Guv) didn't go near a strip club! I was there on a military exchange. Fantastic place.

Did have some good socials there. Princess Street I seem too recall was where a lot of the good bars were / are.

Jason Wilkinson
120 Posted 05/02/2021 at 22:52:33
I think Tom Davies will play. Doucouré, Gomes & Sigurdsson will be the other three in midfield. I think Godfrey might miss out tomorrow.
Graham Hammond
121 Posted 05/02/2021 at 22:54:34
Danny #111.

Obviously, Ben has to play but, given that Man Utd are dangerous down their left-hand side, I thought it may be prudent to push Godfrey over to the right for this reason and this game as an attacking right-back for us but to hopefully also to nullify them down that left flank.

I have no issue with Godfrey playing centrally as the lad is a diamond and in my opinion, our best and most important player, and we do lack pace at the back centrally without him which is why I thought Holgate sitting as a defensive shield in front of the back four could work. I think if Godfrey is not played at right-back, then I would forget completely about any notion of James playing on the right side of midfield. Basically, we cannot have enough Ben Godfreys in the side!

I would tend to agree totally with Tony Hill #112, it is all in the mind; we have to believe we can win and take the game to Man Utd (like we did against Leeds) and work very hard throughout, particularly closing down when we do not have the ball. That includes Calvert-Lewin; if Marcus Bent can do it, then so can Dom!

Brian Murray
122 Posted 05/02/2021 at 22:58:28
All we can ask is to do ourselves justice. In fact do a Newcastle and Van Dijk on them as in pinpoint their talisman Fernandes and kick him to bits. If Van Dijk can get away with it on James, why can't we?
Steavey Buckley
123 Posted 05/02/2021 at 23:06:22
Mike #107,

Jarrad Branthwaite is the 2nd youngest centre-half to play for Everton in the Premier League. The youngest was Richard Dunne who made his debut in 1996 when 17 years and 3 months — who went on to have a great career.

Graham Hammond
124 Posted 05/02/2021 at 23:10:53
Brian #122,

Yes, Fernandes is a big player for them and gets away with murder against us! I am not so sure that the same would be true if we wade into Bruno as you suggest we should... but maybe Mason could be the very man to try and at least give it a go!

I would worry about Gomes defensively (if he plays) given the seemingly endless amounts of free-kicks he gives away when trying to defend, many are far too close to our goal for my liking!

Still, if he does play, hopefully, he can continue on his positive showing against Leeds, putting that horror (sideways) pass on the edge of our box to one side of course!

Jason Wilkinson
125 Posted 05/02/2021 at 23:28:35
Defensively, we are much better than when we played Man Utd at Goodison Park in the Premier League. We were heading for penalties until a lapse of concentration and a bit of fortune in the build up in the League Cup tie.

The longer it stays 0-0, the better chance we have of winning the game late on. The pressure is on them to get 3 points. I just hope Ancelotti picks the right team with enough going forwards.

Danny O’Neill
126 Posted 05/02/2021 at 23:29:21
I like your last paragraph, Graham. Take the game to them.

But I don't think we do that playing Holgate shielding the back four. Not if the danger is coming down their flanks. I think your other comment is right; take the game to them and peg them back on the flanks.

I think we have to be brave and go for it. Win trying to win. Lose or draw trying to win.

In honesty, it's the good problem we now have. We have 4 centre-backs that we would be comfortable with regardless of which 2 are selected. But that doesn't mean we have to find a place on the pitch for them just because they are all available.

Hopefully by the start of next season, we have the same issue with the midfield and then (dare I say) the forward line. Good teams and squads give themselves selection problems.

We have plenty of midfielders available tomorrow. No need to play a defender there, in my opinion.

John Boswell
127 Posted 05/02/2021 at 23:29:23
I am an optimistic soul and believe that we can get a result at the third time of asking this season and then I see that Moss is the man in black!

Still, if the fates are feeling kindly towards us, those fine margins will see us take the points and we are back in the mix. COYB.

Stephen Vincent
128 Posted 05/02/2021 at 00:14:55
Totally endorse Thomas #21 and Mike #35.

Team same as Leeds except King for Richarlison – sorry, lad, you're just not doing it.

Graham Hammond
129 Posted 05/02/2021 at 00:16:16
Danny #126,

I liked and totally agreed with your comment about being brave and trying to win the game, whether that results in a win, loss or a draw. I very much feel too that we have to leave it all out there, precisely what we did not do against Newcastle. That performance was unforgivable in my opinion and it really cost us.

I was advocating a 4-1-4-1 formation and, given that Carlo often plays a 4-2-3-1 formation, I really do not see my formation as 'not going for it' at all; I see it as having one less defensive midfielder from the usual two and having strength and numbers a little bit further up the field.

I have seen both Mina and Keane (somewhat surprisingly) carrying the ball well out from the back; I just think that having two defensive midfield shields blocks things up rather at times and we end up playing too much dangerous tight football with very little margin for error in the wrong areas.

I feel both Mina and Keane can continue to exploit space in front of them, safe in the knowledge that Holgate would drop in for them were possession to be lost.

We could and probably will go 4-2-3-1 yet again and the '2' could very well be Gomes and Sigurdsson; that to me would be pointless; although they are both 'midfielders', they most definitely are not good, strong defensive midfielders. Sigurdsson 'hides' too often when playing in the defensive '2' and Gomes gives away too many stupid free-kicks in very dangerous areas – that much I totally agree with Mike Gaynes on!

Anyway, all the best Danny, hopefully, we will both be happy at 10:00 pm Saturday night, regardless of who plays and in what formation!

Stephen Vincent
130 Posted 06/02/2021 at 00:59:13
Jay # 94, my hands tingled at the reminder of the SFX ferule. Those Jesuits were evil sadistic bastards.
Tony Hill
131 Posted 06/02/2021 at 01:38:28
And clever, Stephen. And now very radically of the left. How these things shift.
Ashley Roberts
132 Posted 06/02/2021 at 02:27:32
With Olsen in goal, I would go with a backline of Godfrey, Keane, Mina, and Digne. A midfield of Iwobi, Doucouré and Gomes, with James playing in between the midfield and Calvert-Lewin sand Richarlison up front. I am not sure James and Sigurdsson complement each other because neither have any pace.

We would also have a pretty strong bench with Mason, Sigurdsson, Coleman, Davies and King to bring on. As long as we can keep them at bay from scoring in the early stages, I think we have a chance of hitting them on the break. Keeping my fingers crossed for at least a draw. COYB.

Jim Harrison
133 Posted 06/02/2021 at 02:40:44
A long way to go back, but I agree with Steve Shane at #17.

3 at the back with Iwobi and Digne as wingbacks. Doucouré with either Gomes or Davies in the middle, James in the centre in front of them, Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin up top, with King being on the bench to shake things up.

If it isn't working for James, Sigurdsson comes on.

Tony Hill
134 Posted 06/02/2021 at 03:04:31
I agree, keep Iwobi in. He is badly underrated on here.
Mike Gaynes
135 Posted 06/02/2021 at 03:14:57
Steavey #123,

Yep, I knew that, and I can't wait to see him develop. I genuinely believe that he and Godfrey are the centre-back pairing that can take us to a Champions League quarterfinal in 2023. I doubt, however, he will compete for a starting role even next season at age 19 -- I don't see any of the 4 centre-backs ahead of him leaving this summer.

I always wished we had kept Dunne and given him a better chance. My dim memory is that Walter just never trusted him and finally shipped him out around 1999, although I don't remember why. I'm sure others here will.

Tony Hill
136 Posted 06/02/2021 at 03:57:34

Branthwaite and Godfrey will be formidable one way or the other. Both are exceptionally gifted, mentally and physically.

Apart from Rooney, Godfrey is the Everton player whom I have found most exhilarating in 50 years (I hold a special place for James but he operates on his own terms). Prior to that, I would only advance the names of Vernon, Young and Ball as having an equivalent effect.

Godfrey has a mark of potential greatness upon him and, above all, it looks as though he has no demons in his way. Jay Wood mentioned him in the same breath as Duncan Edwards and Tony Kay. There will be those who scoff but I think those comparisons are not foolish.

Easy does it, he is one-footed and has no passing game yet, but we are very lucky to see him in our colours.

Branthwaite is fascinating but is not as immediately impressive as Godfrey. He'll get there, though, in his own calm way. Delighted to see him unaffected by Warnock's nonsense.

Credit to Brands, huge credit.

Alan J Thompson
137 Posted 06/02/2021 at 05:00:08
Mike (#135); Dunne was moved on after an away game that Wally Smith thought we should have won and Dunne and another player, whose name eludes me, were laughing and joking on the coach home, to which Smith took offence.
Graham Mockford
138 Posted 06/02/2021 at 05:07:54
Alan @137,

Michael Ball.

Dick Fearon
139 Posted 06/02/2021 at 05:49:44
Tony @136, should Godfrey reach half the level of Duncan Edwards, it would please me.

There is no doubt in my mind that, but for the Munich tragedy, Duncan would have dominated English and international football for generations.

Christine Foster
140 Posted 06/02/2021 at 05:56:57
Ashley @132,

Yes, I think that may well be the team selection. The only modification would be I would like to see Keane drop off and play the old sweeper role to mop up. I think it would stymie Man Utd and as Keane is not blessed with pace, anyone getting through to him has to go through a defensive three first.

Such a change in tactics never used anymore, would frustrate Man Utd, I feel... Should be interesting but I have a good feeling about this one.

Brian Murray
141 Posted 06/02/2021 at 06:01:58
Those on here saying "Be brave". We know Carlo doesn't go on the front foot against the likes of Newcastle so not sure he's gonna start now after all these years. We just don't have the players to retain the ball long enough. Sounds negative but, for this season, I say let him carry on his way of hopefully outthinking the likes of Solskjaer.

As for Davies, I'll give him his due – he's the only one brave in possession who plays on the half-turn and at least tries a forward pass even when it gets us in trouble.

Sorry, this new Sigurdsson and Gomes love-in doesn't convince me yet. They have been anonymous for a long time. Prove me wrong.

Tony Hill
142 Posted 06/02/2021 at 06:30:50
Dick @139, I should make it clear that I was too young to form an intelligent view of Duncan Edwards, being only 10 when he died and, therefore, my comment was inappropriate. May he rest in peace.

Tony Kay I can speak about and Ben has the same hard intent.

He looks special from any angle, doesn't he?

Steve Shave
144 Posted 06/02/2021 at 07:19:47
Tony Everan @73, I often find myself agreeing with you on here but I would have some concerns with that line-up.

I fear (as others have pointed to above) that Shaw and Rashford would tear up our right-hand side. If James plays then it must be in the floating No 10 role, we must protect ourselves down that side and James offers nothing.

Iwobi as right-wingback with 3 at the back might offer something going forward (Digne would be an outlet) and the three midfielders would have to cover, I'd play The Duke, Gomes and Davies.

Darren Hind
145 Posted 06/02/2021 at 07:56:04
We will of course defend deep which will frustrate the Mancs no end after their goal spree against Southampton.

Again, I don't see this being one for the purist, but again, I think those bookies are sticking their chins out a little too far.

I suspect our odds will shrink still further and Evertonians continue to go to the well which has served them so well this season.

Biggest game since Ancelotti got here.

Frank Fearns
146 Posted 06/02/2021 at 07:56:22
I'd like to see Everton start the game with the intensity they showed in the first half against Leeds. With slicker passing, their body shapes looking forward rather than back, and retaining the ball rather than giving it away after two passes. We can do them tonight but need to contain their pacy runners.

Like many, I think Godfrey is great buy but he's a youngster so let's not put too much pressure on him. I'm afraid there are too many blue supporters who will quickly criticise with a mistake... and he will make them.

Keep it simple tonight and I'm confident we can beat them. 12 hours to go so it's going to be a long twichty day. Come on, Everton.

Rob Dolby
147 Posted 06/02/2021 at 08:43:36
Tony @136,

That is some accolade for young Godfrey.

I wonder what those coaches at Sheffield and Middlesbrough make of their reject now? With his attitude to defending, speed and agility, he reminds me of a young Jagielka.

With Ancelotti saying that they have to do things differently tonight, I wouldn't be surprised to see Godfrey do a man-marking job on Fernandes.

James has to play – he is too good to sit and watch Iwobi contribute nothing.

Coleman Keane Mina Digne
Doucouré Gomes Godfrey
Rodriguez Calvert-Lewin Richarlison

Robert Tressell
148 Posted 06/02/2021 at 08:56:39
I can't really see why Ancelotti would change the side that beat Leeds. Rodriguez and Keane are very good options from the bench but probably not starters at Old Trafford.

I suppose Gomes might be switched for Davies after all the running at Elland Road but expect otherwise unchanged. As for experimental defenders in midfield suggestions, I just can't see it happening.

I don't think we need to do anything too fancy, the key thing is to be compact and keep concentration.

Derek Knox
149 Posted 06/02/2021 at 09:08:03
Must be good for Carlo, and us, that he has genuine selection questions. Like most have said, I think most who played at Leeds (first half) deserve the opportunity to try and replicate that. Options on the bench (quality players) may just bring the best out of those whose position is not necessarily guaranteed.

Without getting too carried away, Man Utd have shown, despite their expensively assembled squad, that they can be vulnerable, especially at home. Sheffield United proved that recently. I know it doesn't always work like that, but surely, if they can get a result, we can.


Eddie Dunn
150 Posted 06/02/2021 at 09:12:24
On BBC online, in the pre-match blurb for Man Utd v Everton they show a picture of Pickford and Lössl with a caption stating that "Olsen" (above) will be playing in place of Pickford. Got some dorks working for them.
Brent Stephens
151 Posted 06/02/2021 at 09:18:43
I agree on the point about the threat Man Utd pose down their left flank. Selection there will be interesting. I would also like to see James in a floating role.

Not sure on what basis this is our biggest game since Carlo arrived? I think they're all big games.

Andrew Clare
152 Posted 06/02/2021 at 09:24:36
Christine #140,

I agree. We need someone to play sweeper just like Franco Baresi did in the great Milan side which included our own Carlo Ancelotti.

It was so effective. Maybe someone will explain why we don't see it deployed anymore?

Jeff Armstrong
153 Posted 06/02/2021 at 09:37:15
I think Godfrey is a tremendous player and would love Ancelotti to play him in his optimum position of right centre-back rather than left side, which I believe he would then show his full potential as a ball-carrying powerhouse and defender.
David Pearl
154 Posted 06/02/2021 at 09:43:31
I'd like to see our players stamp on the feet of Bruno and leave one on him the way Newcastle constantly did to James.

You would expect some rotation with Coleman, Keane and James rested against Leeds but who comes in and who drops out is anyone's guess.

Maybe Digne plays left mid and Richarlison on the right, and though not his best position, he will keep Shaw occupied. It will be a brave call to include James for this one as it means defensively we play with 10½ men. It will be a massive statement winning this game.

Kenny Smith
155 Posted 06/02/2021 at 09:47:57
I'm not sure what sort of formation Carlo's gonna put out which is good. Too often we've been predictable and have been easily out-thought.

I'd revert to the solid 4 centre-halves and push Digne into left-midield. Either Sigurdsson or James will have to miss out; my money's on Sigurdsson.

Their midfield's pretty strong so I expect they'll have most of the ball but, if we play at the tempo we started with at Leeds, then that will unsettle them and they have to play at their speed to be effective.

I fancy us to get something tonight.

Rob Dolby
156 Posted 06/02/2021 at 09:49:12
Andrew 152. Nobody plays libero anymore. Tactics, speed of the game and offside rule tweaks have made it an extinct position in today's footy.

Having a lot faster centre-back to try and challenge for the 2nd ball is as close as we get to the traditional sweeper.

Danny O’Neill
157 Posted 06/02/2021 at 10:01:01
Missed your last one from yesterday, Graham. Here's hoping we both have a great weekend!

It will be made all the better if my bet comes in. Being the obsessive gambler I now am since discovering betting apps, I stand to be £6 more wealthy by this evening!

Hugh Jenkins
158 Posted 06/02/2021 at 10:10:35
Eddie (150). The BBC's current editorial staff (if they actually have any), are probably the most inept people ever to fulfil that function.
Robert Tressell
159 Posted 06/02/2021 at 10:12:03
The sweeper system may well return. The more modern systems place a sweeper style player in front of the defence to avoid being outnumbered in midfield. This means the space is at full-back. Full-back is really a midfield position now, which provides the width for an attack.

But, as that system gets found out, we may see teams revert to deeper sweepers behind the defensive line. I loved watching Mattias Sammer as a traditional sweeper in the 1990s. What a player.

Stephen Brown
160 Posted 06/02/2021 at 10:16:22
A big set of fixtures ahead over the next week!! I'm quietly looking forward to them.

My team for what it's worth:

Holgate Mina Godfrey Digne
Doucouré Gomes
Iwobi James Richarlison

Strong defence but the ability to take the game to them too! Not sure we can just defend against Man Utd at home.

Eddie Dunn
161 Posted 06/02/2021 at 10:21:05
Hugh, it is pure habit that I use them as everyday I am underwhelmed at their lack of decent news, be it sport or other. There must be lots of people like us, who pay their license fee and wonder just what it is spent on.
Andrew McLawrence
162 Posted 06/02/2021 at 10:21:08
A lot of Man Utd's creative play of late flows through Shaw on the left. I'm not sure we can be exposed there so maybe that means no James again. That then stifles our creative play... so a bit of a conundrum.
Clive Rogers
163 Posted 06/02/2021 at 10:25:19
Keane will play as he was surely rested for this one and he is Carlo's number 1 centre-half. That will probably mean Digne being moved forward in front of Godfrey. Another option would be to rest Mina with Godfrey alongside Keane for his pace.
Danny O’Neill
164 Posted 06/02/2021 at 10:26:58
Now there's a player, Robert!

The German's do have a rich history in that particular position. They've generated some great sweepers over the years.

Mick Conalty
165 Posted 06/02/2021 at 10:37:51
No Gbamin again... Haha!!! I reckon he has had that much work on him, he is going to come back as RoboCop. Hopefully for the Derby.

Your move, Red Shite!

Gary Willock
166 Posted 06/02/2021 at 10:37:57
It's great seeing us have such selection headaches!!! With a tough month ahead though, we may need them all, so hopefully the players will accept some rotation.

Personally I like the team Stephen @160 suggests, although maybe give Yerry a rest for Keane.. Bring him, Sigurdsson, King (and maybe Allan?) back in for Spurs through the week.

Come on, you blues!!

Brian Harrison
167 Posted 06/02/2021 at 10:44:30
I think what is really interesting reading threads on match days is that there is not only a difference in team selections but also in what system should be used. Now I can never think of another Everton manager who had drilled his side so well that they could play in different systems. Ancelotti has also said he likes his players to be able to play in different positions, I just cant remember ( age thing) a top manager got his players to play in different positions during training. The thought process was to make each player aware of the difficulties that a teammate faces.

We have already seen Godfrey and Holgate play in different positions and James has played wide right or more centrally, and Sigurdsson has played in a couple of different positions. The big advantage in doing this is it allows the manager to change a system mid-match and know the players are comfortable to do it.

I never ever try and predict what team will play but what I do know is, despite some fans having reservations over certain team selections, that whichever team or system Carlo uses he has got a lot more right than wrong.

Laurie Hartley
168 Posted 06/02/2021 at 10:51:48
It's a feeling I haven't had for a long time going into this fixture: I am not saying we will win but I do believe we could.

For me, Rodriguez has to play in a fixture like this but we need someone in midfield who is on the same wavelength as him, so Gomes gets a start for me. Actually he is a certainty – the manager said he was the best player on the pitch vs Leeds.

I like our 4 centre-backs back-four set-up but this is not the game to be sitting back. If we do, they will wear us down. I think we have to have a go at them.

At the same time, I do think Godfrey has the stamina and brains to play in front of the back four and drop back when Coleman or Digne get forward. So here Is my line up:

Coleman, Keane, Mina, Digne
Doucouré, Godfrey, Gomes
Rodrigues, Richarlison

Up the Blues!!!!

Edit: Rob Dolby #147, I didn't steal your line up – honest – it was timing.

Brent Stephens
169 Posted 06/02/2021 at 10:57:30
Brian #167 “Ancelotti has also said he likes his players to be able to play in different positions, I just can't remember (age thing) a top manager got his players to play in different positions during training.”

Brian, I posted earlier wondering whether some of the playing of players in different positions in the U23s is more significant than previously and whether this is developmental? Maybe Carlo is prompting that?

Ricky Oak
170 Posted 06/02/2021 at 11:08:43
Media playing their part already... of course the game's all about Munich. No disrespect intended but come on, for fuck's sake... just gives the officials the excuse they need for extra biased calls imho.

Wait, they don't need it! I will be amazed if we get even a fair match. Here's to hoping for another Don masterclass, 1-2.

Darren Hind
171 Posted 06/02/2021 at 11:21:15
One thing everyone knows (or should know by now) is that Carlo Ancelotti's selections do not give any clues as to the tactics he will employ.

He will bring his forwards back to defend. He will employ forwards and midfield players as wingbacks. He is happy to push midfield players to full-back (Tom Davies), stick midfield players up front (Sigurdsson). Basically you play where he tells you to. It's his way or the highway. Ask Stoichkov, Zola, or even Baggio...

Those who remember him as a player will remember that, although he was slower than a week in a gaol, he could give top class performances in several different roles. He likes players who can do the same. He expects his players to be able to do more than one job.

His signings would support this. Doucouré can sit, he can play box-to-box, he can even defend. James could easily come in from the wing and play No 10. Godfrey can play anywhere across the back four... and Allan? ... well, he can tackle anywhere on the pitch. I thought his selection at Leeds was ultra-defensive, but we attacked in numbers throughout the first half.

I also read his comments about Josh King with interest. He basically said he didn't sign him for his goals alone, it was for other qualities he expects him to bring.

I hope last week's hindsight merchants don't curb the comments on today's matchday thread. I like to read all comments "positive or negative" (whatever that shite means). It's as close as we are going to get to sitting in the alehouse before the game.

One thing we know (or should know) about uncle Carlo is, just because he selects a full-back, it doesn't mean he will play at full-back. Like others, I expect Digne to be the latest example of that today...

Darren Hind
172 Posted 06/02/2021 at 11:27:34
Brian Harrison.

Apologies. I hadn't read the comments and didn't realise you had already made the point. You put it better than me too – bastard!

Shaun Lyon
173 Posted 06/02/2021 at 11:30:15
The cup game was very disappointing granted, but unlike quite a few fans on here it seems, I don't think we were 'well beaten' over both games.

The first game was – who'd have predicted it? – marred by poor officiating and, as seems to be the case more or less every week, Fernandes stayed on the pitch when he should have had a second yellow and been off.

Without getting conspiracy-theory minded, I do find it astonishing the number of times this season that Man Utd have benefited from contentious decisions, both referee-wise and VAR.

I think it's just a case of which Everton turns up tonight. If we play as we know we can, and have seen at times this season, we can certainly beat them. The other big question, as alluded to by Lyndon, is what you do about James.

Being an Evertonian often feels like being in an abusive relationship – you never quite know if you'll end the night with love and kisses or a black eye. Please send us to bed happy, Blues.

Kunal Desai
174 Posted 06/02/2021 at 11:41:41
I expect Carlo will rotate here. Keane, Davies and Rodriguez to come in probably for Gomes, Iwobi and Sigurdsson.
Andrew Clare
175 Posted 06/02/2021 at 11:57:04
Rob#156 & Robert #159,
Thanks for the sweeper views. It’s a shame that it has become a redundant position due to changing tactics. Some of the best players to have graced the game have played that role.
I suppose the role has now been taken by the defensive midfielders but somehow the sweeper always seemed to be a more cultured type of player.
Tonight I would play the team that won at Leeds and I would designate a player to man mark Fernandez. He is very dangerous and he makes them tick.
Tom Bowers
176 Posted 06/02/2021 at 12:00:47
We are always a little optimistic when we play teams like City. Manure and RS but not a lot.

Manure are not unbeatable and have their off days much like Everton..

If the real side of Everton show up then we have a chance providing of course DCL and Richarlison play up to snuff.

City are the thoroughbreds and it's now shining through although without De Bruyne they are not quite as effective so I reckon both games will be draws.

Thomas Richards
177 Posted 06/02/2021 at 12:01:04
After the hysterics of Klopp yesterday I was pleased to read this.

Everton face a huge period after the United visit – with games against Manchester City and Liverpool scheduled only three days apart.

But Ancelotti said: “No problem for this. We have to play two games against City and Liverpool.

“Sooner or later we have to play them so it doesn’t matter if both of the games are really close.

“It’s an important period. In the moment physically we are good.

“We will have Allan back next week so we will have all the squad back. We can manage this period well.”

Ciarán McGlone
178 Posted 06/02/2021 at 12:19:26
Cant believe anyone is advocating a back five after how weve fared with it this season.. our centre halves looked cluttered and lost in that formation and it only invites pressure.

I'm always optimistic that we play better against the big boys and I think our manager need to adopt that optimism as well today.

Put out our strongest available midfield.. Gomes, Doucoure, Iwobi, James and Richarlison.. and play further up the pitch like we did first half on Wednesday.

Steve Carse
179 Posted 06/02/2021 at 12:20:29
I've always contended that the sweeper position is suited to anyone with a bit of pace but, primarily, can read the game. The very best make it look easy. Arguably van Dyke is the only player operating as a sweeper in the PL currently. He invariably drops a good 10 yards behind his co-defenders, acting as the release valve whenever those in front of him are getting pressed, and he covers others when danger evolves. He is not though particularly strong when the opposition is sustaining pressure, as witnessed towards the end of last season and the start of this once opposing managers decided it was time to play more offensively.
What a gem we had in the 80s in Ratcliffe. He played the sweeper role whilst playing in a flat back four!

Steve Carse
180 Posted 06/02/2021 at 12:33:28
One thing you can never be sure of is a CA starting line up. But if I was a betting man I would put money on Iwobi playing, given their left pairing will consist of Rashford and Shaw, the most attacking LB in the league this season. I would also not rule out Keane returning, with Godfrey taking up the RB position.
Danny O’Neill
181 Posted 06/02/2021 at 12:34:55
You're right Brian, it is difficult to predict Ancelloti's teams and system, more so than many other managers we've had in this era of squad rotation.

The drilling of players to play in different positions, in different systems and to play a different game is definitely the Italian and continental in him.

Although this contradicts many of ours' frustration at "square pegs in round holes" at times (myself included), that's how they bring through their players on many parts of the continent. They purposely rotate players around the pitch to give them experience in different positions. The theory being you never know how a player will develop both physically or technically so ensure they can adapt to a different position as their final settled one might not be what they were good at when they were 14. We have more of a tendency to shoehorn players into a specific position at a young age, so they struggle when asked to play out of position.

So rotation and asking players to do different things is just in their DNA for. Imagine what he'll be like when he has more options!

Anyway, today. Who knows?! I anticipate we will not attack them as we did Leeds (despite my "brave" shouts earlier). But then I didn't think we would go at Leeds like we did in the first half, so I'll sit back wait and see what happens!

Jay Wood

182 Posted 06/02/2021 at 12:44:05
I fully expect Carlo to recall both Keane and James to the starting XI today whilst retaining both Godfrey and Digne.

No back 3/5 nonsense with 3 centre backs and wing backs. Flat back 4, please. Digne is happier playing his default position. Carlo trusts the Mina-Keane combo. Godfrey continues to delight the Italian.

For that reason I foresee Godfrey at right back, Mina and Keane the centre backs, Digne left back.

To accomodate James, I don't think you can play him with Siggy and Gomes together from the start. Given that Carlo called Gomes as his personal MoTM v Leeds, AND that the Portuguese is better suited to play deeper than Siggy, I expect the Iceman to give way to James for the #10 role. Richy and Iwobi on the flanks. Doucoure at the base of midfield and DCL up front.

Danny O’Neill
183 Posted 06/02/2021 at 12:48:25
Cluttered Ciaran. Exactly that. Whenever I've played in a back 5, you're literally on top of each other and inevitably (obviously) have fewer outlets. I get a 3-5-2 switching to 5 when defending, but not set up as a 5.

Reading of the game and anticipation more important than pace for a sweeper for me. That's why I wouldn't advocate Keane for that role.

Brian Harrison
184 Posted 06/02/2021 at 12:50:23
Darren 171

I thought you summed up perfectly what I was trying to say, with a lot more individual analysis than I did in my post. Surely you meant to show some respect to my age so in future Mr Bastard please.

Kevin Molloy
185 Posted 06/02/2021 at 12:57:53
this is a much tougher game than a year ago, Bruno as we know has made a huge difference to this side.
Having said that, we cannot play worse than we have in the previous two games against this lot. And if I was a United player, I would have mentally banked the three points for today after the way the first two have gone. And after their ridiculous nine nil I think they will be a just a little bit complacent. And as such, I think we'll thrash them.
Jerome Shields
186 Posted 06/02/2021 at 13:17:43
Robert #159

Very interesting your analysis of the sweeper system and how it has changed. Ancelotti varies tactics and formation alot and he likes player to be adaptable to different roles.

This is essential in the Premiership where tactics that to beat a Top four side one week can unravel against a bottom three side. You are right that a sweeper system could be part of the mix as well, just to get those extra points to challenge at the top of the Premiership.

Our neighbours are not above use bottom three shut up shop tactics when they us, with a bit of bover boy as well. Then they cry for months when Everton innocently and inadvertly defend the ourselves.

It is noticable that blamely Everton for their current form is running a bit thin and the Prancing clown has lost it.

Emma Day
187 Posted 06/02/2021 at 13:17:48
Danny O’Neil @181

My daughter plays football, and from aged 7 she has had to play in different positions, and not in her preferred position, this is due to the FA rules/ guidelines that players learn about all positions.

One of her friends plays for Birmingham City kids, she is 10 I think, and they are the same.

It looks like the English game is also going the same way as you mentioned how they rotate players at a young age in Europe.

Dave Abrahams
188 Posted 06/02/2021 at 13:22:29
As well as we played at Leeds, mostly in the first half, as some have pointed out, there is still, every single game, the very poor passing and lack of movement by the majority of players, Carlo has been here for over twelve months and even he has failed to remedy this huge problem, it’s been around for years and how professional footballers can’t do the simple basic things like passing, even with time and space, they are always in a hurry, frantic even to find their teammates with a ten yard or less pass, should come automatically to them.

Got that off my chest, I don’t know who Carlo will pick, I hope Iwobi is not one of them, I wouldn’t trust him, don’t know how he stayed on the field so long the other night, even “ Smile awhile” got dragged off before him, so there you go Iwobi will be selected and have a stormer, hope he does,he’s had some decent games and some stinkers,how will he play tonight? Anyway we have Josh King in the squad and I think he will get some game time and hopefully use his pace and aggression to unsettle the United defence.

Justin Doone
189 Posted 06/02/2021 at 13:34:46
I agree Utd will fancy there chances after convincingly beating Southampton a team that convincingly beat us.

They gave rest to a few players at half time and sent on a few attacking players for defensive options which was brave but paved the way for a threshing.

We had a long, hard fought battle but shown resilience and other than a couple of players we should be fresh for another battle.

The easiest way to stop Utd is put a sitter on Bruno, or Pogba if no Bruno. They both get frustrated if not involved. Siggy or Gomes to push him deeper. Then its defend the channels and crosses and quickly attack in number's like against Leeds.

We have to keep up that energy and fighting spirit we shown. Leeds are frantic, Utd attack in waves and numbers but defensively can be exposed as they come forward.

Keeping Godfrey in the side is a must and I was surprised to see him up for a corner, that we scored from, as he's or only pacey defender. No one else can catch Utds forwards on a break away.

Danny O’Neill
190 Posted 06/02/2021 at 13:36:22
That's great to hear Emma.

Unpredictable. That's Iwobi Dave. It can even be an asset on occasion. If our own players and fans don't know what he's going to do next, what chance do the opposition have?!

David Hayes
191 Posted 06/02/2021 at 13:38:31
It's time to get my 1 nil scarf, bought at old Wembley 1995, which has sat in the wardrobe for a while out and on. This 1 nil scarf was responsible solely for a lot of wins 1 nil wins during the Moyes era. Also my Everton coffee mug ( never drunk from and kissed 3 times pre match and placed higher than all other mugs on the shelf has also been complety responsible for whenever we score 3 in a game, haven't done that for a while but will today. So relax everyone the win is guaranteed
Paul Jones
192 Posted 06/02/2021 at 13:38:52
There's an interview with Royston Drenthe in the guardian today...

"Madrid was the time I most enjoyed but at Everton I was at my best. England is great, how they live football."

If that was his best I would hate to see his worst. Still, a good read considering the level he is playing at now Royston Drenthe: ‘People kept calling and then the animal inside comes back’

James Edwards
193 Posted 06/02/2021 at 13:41:22
While where on about are poor passing at times what about are throw -ins we always seem to give it to the opposition, this is something that has been going on for some time does my head in
Jeff Armstrong
194 Posted 06/02/2021 at 14:02:27
Pet hate for me is quickly taken short free kicks that put the recipient under immediate pressure, instead of using said free kick to our advantage, oh and EVERYONE back for corners.
Dale Self
195 Posted 06/02/2021 at 14:37:46
At first the position flexibility was necessary to cover injuries. Now it allows us to vary the setup and adjust tactical assignments within games. That Interchangeability is the foundation of a total football system but the first rule of Carlo is to secure the defense.
Eventually I believe this work will allow better cover for individual runs but also encourage coordinated runs of multiple players advancing This is what is missing from our possession game. So often the passer has limited options because players are anchored to defensive responsibilities thus the safe pass that creates no space occurs. It will take a while and at least one more speed acquisition but I believe the foundation is being laid.
Jamie Crowley
196 Posted 06/02/2021 at 14:38:46
Jeff Armstrong @194 -

Yes and yes. Both, in my view, are just plain stupid. Drives me nuts.

Justin Doone
197 Posted 06/02/2021 at 14:51:50
A quick free kick that goes 5 yards backwards when an opposing player is stood bear the ball only puts ourselves under pressure.

When central why doesn't anyone make a last second dash down the wing into space and create a better angle for a cross.

On corners, if Mina started making a run from outside the box towards the back post who's going to stop him without committing a clear and obvious foul?

There are many changes and tweaks we can makes to reduce risks and create more attacking options from the most simplest opportunities. Look back at Leicesters many throw-ins that we struggled to defend. PANIC!

Lastly, any news on why we didn't get a penalty for handball against Leeds?

Dave Abrahams
198 Posted 06/02/2021 at 14:53:26
Danny (190), he’s still half hearted going into tackles, never fully committed or concentrated on winning the ball, still hangs back when his full back is waiting for him to move quickly down the line so he can set him on his way with the pass, does plenty of decent dribbles which get him free then he messes it up by wasting the centre, he doesn’t believe in himself, lacks confidence, he has improved since last season but doesn’t convince that he will improve his consistency, not only do the fans and opposition know what he’s going to do next Danny, he doesn’t seem to know himself.
Thomas Richards
199 Posted 06/02/2021 at 14:54:40
Flexibility of positions is a big part of the modern game.
Ancelotti does it very well.

Squad is evolving now.
After the summer transfer window it will be Ancelotti's team.
Watch them go then.

Tom Bowers
200 Posted 06/02/2021 at 14:57:42
No two games are alike.

It all comes down to which team comes out with serious intentions about winning.

You cannot sit back at Old Trafford, take the game to them and use your best assets to give them something to think about. They got off to a flyer against a hurting Soton team but Everton need to be disciplined and focused, something they haven't shown too often this season,

Everton need to press them hard when they are trying to play the ball out from their own half because for sure they will do the same to our defence.

Jamie Crowley
201 Posted 06/02/2021 at 14:57:48
Thomas -

Cue the whining Varuka from WIlly Wonka and the Chocolate Factory:

But I want to go NOW!

Jamie Crowley
202 Posted 06/02/2021 at 14:58:58
Tom Bowers -

I don't think we should press at all. I'd give them the ball, sit deep, soak it up with the Brick Wall Back Four, and counter.

Thomas Richards
203 Posted 06/02/2021 at 15:01:54

Sorry mate.
Who is Varuka?

Danny O’Neill
204 Posted 06/02/2021 at 15:04:22
I'm with you totally Dave. Your last paragraph is my point, you just add the him not knowing either.

Another on the list of over-hyped English prospects. Useful to have around for now but moving forward we need better.

I get we have pretty much all acknowledged it is difficult to predict the line up and Carlo will do what he does. Not so much today, but as I've said elsewhere, all fit, I'm intrigued to see a 3 of King, James & Richarlison behind DCL with Doucoure and Allan behind those 3.

Joe McMahon
205 Posted 06/02/2021 at 15:05:08
David Hayes @191, love the crazyness of that story. Howeve 1995 as you know was a long time ago, you could have been discovering women a bit more rather than kissing a mug?

I'm also thinking it's your fault - the 1 - 0 scarf for years of low scoring negative dross.

Brian Murray
206 Posted 06/02/2021 at 15:08:42
Varuka spoilt brat Golden ticket winner in Willy wonka probably!
Brian Wilkinson
207 Posted 06/02/2021 at 15:11:17
Jamie@202, we tried that at Goodison, in the cup game, they over run us, knocked the ball around like a practice match.

We need to push further up, a dogs of war style, not giving them space, or time to settle on the ball, go at them, and try to take the game to them, hard ask, but better than allowing them the freedom of the midfield.

If we sit back, they will pick us off, have a go and see how it unfolds.

Thomas Richards
208 Posted 06/02/2021 at 15:19:34
Brian 206.

Been over 20 years since I watched that one.

Did you say you were from Kirkby mate.

Jamie Crowley
209 Posted 06/02/2021 at 15:23:24
Brian -

Did we play that game with Holgate-Mina-Keane-Godfrey as the back four?

Jamie Crowley
210 Posted 06/02/2021 at 15:25:48
Also -

I'd not play Gomes in this game.

He'll give away a stupid foul on the edge of our box for the jerk Fernandes to hammer home a free kick.

But I trust Carlo.

Danny O’Neill
211 Posted 06/02/2021 at 15:30:22
Brian, team selection, formation and tactics under Carlo are very much Ce Sera. Or, in Evertonian, Tell me Ma.

What will be will be. Us mortals will just sit back and enjoy or be infuriated with the ride!

Paul A Smith
212 Posted 06/02/2021 at 15:33:48
Very tough game this. United have fantastic individuals all over the pitch. Can we handle Cavani?

This is as bigger test as any.

Andrew Brookfield
213 Posted 06/02/2021 at 15:35:25
I’d play 3 at the back with digne and iwobi as wings backs. I’d also deeply Allan to man mark Fernades out of the game.

Godfrey, Kean, Mina,
Iwobi, Dacorue, Gomes, Allan, Dinge
James, DCL

Danny O’Neill
214 Posted 06/02/2021 at 15:38:01
Allan only resumed training yesterday right? Not available.
Paul A Smith
215 Posted 06/02/2021 at 16:06:31
Justin 197. The Leeds game also come from a throw only this time it was our throw in.

Either way we struggle with them and for some odd reason its gone on years. Something myself and mates have always spoken about.

Careless is probably a better description than struggle actually but we do make a meal out of a lot of throw ins.

Joe McMahon
216 Posted 06/02/2021 at 16:28:02
Looks like inform Pogba will be starting. I so wish Allen was available!
Ian Bennett
217 Posted 06/02/2021 at 16:35:25
Playing 6-4-0 will get nothing but a defeat. The lads at the back I think are good enough to match up. Some legs in the midfield to feed the ball to the front 3. #ambition




Calvert Lewin

Thomas Richards
218 Posted 06/02/2021 at 16:36:48
Good player on his best day Joe.
Look at that in a different way though.
He doesn't track runners so hopefully Doucoure can run off him.
We can get three points here.
Graham Mockford
219 Posted 06/02/2021 at 16:45:34
I can’t see three centre halves has ever worked for us but equally going gung ho plays into their hands as they are an extremely good counter attacking side.

I’d prefer to solidify the midfield three with either Davies or Holgate in with Doucoure and Gomez. Richie and Iwobi in wide positions

I’d go
Godfrey Keane Mina Digne
Iwobi Davies Doucoure Gomes Richarlison

But one thing is sure with Ancelotti he’s not fixated on a system and is prepared to be flexible

Danny O’Neill
220 Posted 06/02/2021 at 16:49:52
I said in the week Ian, we have a generation who have been convinced that defence first is the only way. As you say, 6-4-0 or even 5 at the back will just invite the inevitable.
Darren Hind
221 Posted 06/02/2021 at 17:01:20
odds shortened again to 9/2 Interesting
Colin Glassar
222 Posted 06/02/2021 at 17:07:14
Jamie C, I wouldn’t play Gomes or Iwobi. This isn’t a game for shirkers. We need people who will get stuck in and battle for every ball.




4-5-1 and we get a 2-2 score draw.

George Cumiskey
223 Posted 06/02/2021 at 17:09:45
Colin we need people who'll get stuck in and fight for the ball, Siggy ?
Darren Hind
224 Posted 06/02/2021 at 17:15:30
I think that's the team he will name, Colin, with one exception. I think Digne will play and Sigurdsson or James will sit it out.
Si Cooper
225 Posted 06/02/2021 at 17:20:19
I wouldn't take the score against Southampton as a good barometer for this game. I'm pretty sure United have a history of hammering sides and then getting turned over by teams that had lost to those they had battered.

Their midfield has come good since Fernandes turned up and whoever we put in against them needs to nullify them. I think the calls for Holgate to be tried in midfield sprang from two points of view; we need more athleticism and bite than we get from other alternatives, and Holgate is no longer primarily necessary for a secure back four. I think that idea has lost traction with Seamus increasingly showing his age.

I think our recent performances ably demonstrate that increasingly in our squad it is more about the application than specific players. Whoever gets the nod, I just want an all-in performance. COYB.

Kieran Kinsella
226 Posted 06/02/2021 at 17:20:27
Derek Knox

Your boys are pummeling England at Twickenham

Mike Gaynes
227 Posted 06/02/2021 at 17:20:54
George and Colin, I love your voices from the 1970s and your almost religious fervor for "getting stuck in."

It's so quaint and old-fashioned it makes me sniffle with nostalgia for the days when you could actually win silverware and make it into the Champions League by "getting stuck in."

Harold Wilson was PM, I believe?

Mike Corcoran
228 Posted 06/02/2021 at 17:23:42
Me too Darren, Digne left, Richi Right. If James / Siggy plays it can only be as a floating 10
Colin Glassar
229 Posted 06/02/2021 at 17:38:35
Digne is a valid option over Sigurdsson but I’d bring him on as a sub if need be. I still don’t think he’s match sharp and Sigurdsson, playing the no.10, is a decent goal threat.

When he’s on his game, Sigurdsson does get stuck in. He just seems to lose his focus during games hence the constant stretching to reach balls passed his way.

Thomas Richards
230 Posted 06/02/2021 at 17:39:29
Looking at their squad, it's a tough game but I still think we will get something. May need some dutch courage though.

A lad I know recommends it, as each drink goes down the braver he gets.

Don Alexander
231 Posted 06/02/2021 at 17:46:06
Maybe another quaint point in support of "getting stuck in" will illustrate to those elsewhere on the planet what it means in this so-called fabulous age of football (and, no, I don't believe I'm making a racist point!).

It means doing what lil' ol' Leicester did in 2016, Blackburn Rovers did in 1995 and Nottingham Forest did in 1978, namely winning the league despite next to no support in the media, given the "giants" in media favour, by consistent maximum effort underpinning huge desire.

Sadly, neither of these qualities have been much seen from us in recent decades.

Danny O’Neill
232 Posted 06/02/2021 at 18:01:23
Oh please don't use the get stuck in phrase. I'm scarred from my times on the sidelines coaching youth teams listening to baying parents.

I get the need for commitment and desire but get stuck in is a phrase I would rather not hear. I don't think I ever heard it on the side of the pitch in Germany or Holland.

George Cumiskey
233 Posted 06/02/2021 at 18:09:14
Mike Haynes I think the last time Siggy got stuck in was when Harold Wilson was prime minister ! Lol 🤣😆, and I think you misinterpreted what we meant by getting stuck in as in showing fight and bravery and determination.
Brian Murray
234 Posted 06/02/2021 at 18:14:17
Rumour had it he likes Motown, particularly the pointer sisters because he does a lot of it !
Brian Murray
235 Posted 06/02/2021 at 18:14:20
Rumour had it he likes Motown, particularly The Pointer Sisters... because he does a lot of it!
Paul A Smith
236 Posted 06/02/2021 at 18:20:04
I expect Davies to start tonight. We need players that don't hide and thats one attribute nobody can take away from him.

I'd have DCL playing off the shoulder of their full back allowing him to see the angles for a run at their defence.

A win here is cheshire cat stuff and the mind frame could be hitting new levels if it can be achieved.

I've seen United get desperate at home when they've been shut out and keeping them out early is essential. Easier said than done of course.

Danny O’Neill
237 Posted 06/02/2021 at 18:20:42
Add it to the "get rid" shout. I mean, how does that promote keeping the ball and retaining possession?
George Cumiskey
238 Posted 06/02/2021 at 18:23:10
I know Tom Davies doesn't hide but, for me, he's just too slow for the Premier League.
Colin Glassar
239 Posted 06/02/2021 at 18:23:12
Get stuck in means show some heart, desire, commitment, passion etc Danny. It’s a better expression than ‘let’s be having you’ or ‘tally ho’.
Danny O’Neill
240 Posted 06/02/2021 at 18:30:08
Just makes me cringe Colin. Personal thing.
George Cumiskey
241 Posted 06/02/2021 at 18:31:56
Well said Colin the problem is that a lot of football fans today are of the let's be having a go, tally-ho
Variety. Lol 😆😆
Derek Taylor
242 Posted 06/02/2021 at 18:38:55
Just bet a fiver to win £27 on a Blues win. We need to win one or two of these games against the Big Boys to achieve my predicted Seventh spot !


Jamie Crowley
243 Posted 06/02/2021 at 18:48:03
Colin @ 222 -

I like your lineup and the thought process.

A lot.


Brent Stephens
244 Posted 06/02/2021 at 18:48:16
Yes the "get-stuck-in" mentality is sometimes cringeworthy. It might be a lack of appreciation of, and patience with, the tactics being played in a particular context.
Colin Glassar
245 Posted 06/02/2021 at 18:51:21
Danny, I’m all for teaching the kids the silky skills and developing their football brain. I just hope you teach them them how to tackle.

It’s so sad to see the modern footballer chicken out of any physical contact and, rather than make a tackle they try and flick the ball away from an oncoming opponent. Iwobi, for me, epitomises the lack of courage in today’s game.

Brian Wilkinson
246 Posted 06/02/2021 at 18:53:03
All down to which Everton turn up, the one in the cup game that sat back too deep and allowed utd a free role in the midfield, then we are stuffed.

If the attacking Everton turn up, with Digne getting forward, and Richarlison puts a shift in, then we have a chance.

No reason we cannot compete with them, but we have to as people have said, get stuck in, deny them room and time to think.

A bit like the first half of the Leeds game will do for me.

Derek Taylor
247 Posted 06/02/2021 at 18:56:20
On which Sky Sports channel is our game to be seen ?
Thomas Richards
248 Posted 06/02/2021 at 18:58:59
Graham Mockford
249 Posted 06/02/2021 at 19:01:39
What is so frustrating about this season that the games we’ve lost are,other than United game, were against teams you would normally expect us to beat.

Those home losses to West Ham, Leeds and Newcastle may be a proper cause of regret.

Still as ever let’s be confident we can get something tonight regardless we’ve only won here twice in 30 odd years

Simon Dalzell
250 Posted 06/02/2021 at 19:01:43
401 / 402 Sky SpMain. / Sky SpPLHD
Jamie Crowley
251 Posted 06/02/2021 at 19:02:41
Getting stuck in is what it's all about FFS!

Why do you have your kids play sport / football? Is it because they're good enough to get paid to play? Probably not. What's the percentage of youth players who go on to get paid? Like .5%?

You have your children play to learn one of the most valuable life lessons:
EFFORT. Read, "Get stuck in!"

Before you go all "Fancy Dan" with the step-overs and Cruyff's and all that jazz-hand shite, teach them to "get stuck in".

They'll be better off in the end.

John Otway
252 Posted 06/02/2021 at 19:04:39
I'll have whatever Jamie Crowley's smoking!
Jamie Crowley
253 Posted 06/02/2021 at 19:06:38
What's next John Otway?

An argument of how interpretive dance positively affects footballers?

Fuckin' hell man! 😜

It's cold outside. Maybe I'm compensating. I dunno.

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