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Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester
Premier League
Saturday 2 October 2021; 12:30pm
Man Utd
1 1
Martial 43'
Half Time: 1 - 0 
Townsend 65'
Attendance: 73,128
Fixture 7
Referee: Michael Oliver

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Match Summary
Match Report
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  De Gea
  Wan Bissaka
  Fred (Pogba 70')
  Greenwood booked
  Martial (Sancho 57')
  Cavani (Ronaldo 57')
  Subs not used
  Van de Beek

  Doucouré booked
  Gordon (Davies 72')
  Gray (Dobbin 90'+2)
  Subs not used
  Calvert-Lewin (injured)
  Coleman (injured)
  Delph (injured)
  Gbamin (injured)
  Gomes (injured)
  Richarlison (injured)
  Broadhead (loan)
  Gibson (loan)
  Kean (loan)
  Nkounkou (loan)
  Virginia (loan)

Match Stats

Shots on target

Premier League Scores
Brighton 0-0 Arsenal
Burnley 0-0 Norwich
Chelsea 3-1 Southampton
Leeds 1-0 Watford
Man United 1-1 Everton
Wolves 2-1 Newcastle
C Palace 2-2 Leicester
Liverpool 2-2 Man City
Tottenham 2-1 Aston Villa
West Ham 1-2 Brentford

1 Chelsea 16
2 Liverpool 15
3 Manchester City 14
4 Manchester United 14
5 Everton 14
6 Brighton & Hove Albion 14
7 Brentford 12
8 Tottenham Hotspur 12
9 West Ham United 11
10 Aston Villa 10
11 Arsenal 10
12 Wolverhampton Wanderers 9
13 Leicester City 8
14 Crystal Palace 7
15 Watford 7
16 Leeds United 6
17 Southampton 4
18 Burnley 3
19 Newcastle United 3
20 Norwich City 1

Match Report

To the uninitiated, a cursory look at the two team sheets would have quickly led to the conclusion that this game was a serious mis-match and that the destination of the points was fairly predictable. While Rafael Benitez’s list of substitutes contained two goalkeepers, three teenagers with just a few appearances between them, and a perennially injured midfielder who has still only made one Premier League start, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would bring almost £200m worth of talent off his bench in the second half and still had to settle for a point.

Indeed, had the first of Everton’s two subs had more confidence in his ability to shoot with just David de Gea to beat rather than lay the ball across to the offside Yerry Mina, the Blues might have plundered all three points. As it was, they more than matched their much-fancied hosts and claimed a valuable draw, a result that might have seemed beyond them on paper but which underlines not just the impressive work done by Benitez so far but the under-appreciated quality that exists in his ranks.

Their contribution to Everton’s strong start has been highlighted already, of course, but it’s still amazing to think that Andros Townsend and Demarai Gray cost the club a combined £1.7m this past summer. In the expectation of bigger names to come, the pair were regarded as acquisitions to provide important depth to the Toffees’ squad. What they have demonstrated as irreplacible week-to-week starters since, however, is that they are excellent players who look as though they have found a genuine home at Everton where they can show what they can do.

Discarded by Crystal Palace, a club seeking a fresh start under Patrick Vieira, Townsend arrived on a free transfer with some Evertonians wary of another Fabian Delph-style veteran that might fail to live up to his billing as experienced squad member and positive changing-room presence. In nine matches in all competitions, the under-rated 30-year-old has scored five goals and set up three and today he popped up at the end of a terrific counter-attacking move to sweep home a vital equaliser.

It was no more than Everton, who weathered almost everything United threw at them but were undone by one of few lapses in shape on the day, deserved and it ensured that the Toffees have now not lost at Old Trafford for three successive seasons. The talk in the media will, no doubt, focus on United and their recent run of just two wins in six in all competitions; what will go under the radar is how much there was to admire from this performance by the Blues despite the absence of Richarlison, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Seamus Coleman.

That was more notable because from the opening exchanges, played at a fast clip that set the tone for the contest overall, it was clear that Everton had not caught United on an off-day. Both sides were moving the ball around crisply but it was the home side who looked the more likely to make the breakthrough.

United carved out the first clear-cut chance when Aaron Wan-Bissaka wrong-footed Lucas Digne down United's right flank and crossed for Martial but the Frenchman had mis-timed his jump and could only glance a header well off target.

At the other end, Rondon dallied over an opportunity created for him by Digne but was, in any case, flagged for offside before Michael Keane guided a header narrowly wide from Townsend's free-kick after the former Crystal Palace winger had been fouled himself by Luke Shaw.

Understandably, Solskjaer's side continued to look the more dangerous in the final third and it took a good save from Jordan Pickford to deny Edinson Cavani as he got down smartly to push the Uruguayan's header behind for a corner.

As they would later underscore with their goal, Everton were a persistent threat on the counter and when Doucouré and Townsend combined as the Blues surged out of their half in the 25th minute, the former picked Rondon out with a cross from the left but the Venezuelan's shot was blocked.

Their best chance of the half came from Gray, however, with a superb individual effort where he picked up the ball from deep, powered into space between two defenders and struck a low shot that was curling towards the corner until De Gea palmed aside well. Gordon's low delivery from the byline was later dummied by Rondon but Townsend's touch was also stopped in front of goal before Wan-Bissaka's out-stretched leg charged down Doucouré's goal-bound shot from near the penalty spot.

Constantly marshalled by Benitez from the sidelines with instructions to remain compact, Everton were unfortunately undone by a rare positional mistake two minutes before the interval.

Godfrey had drifted out of the right-back area and towards his own “D” which left Martial in oceans of space in the back of the penalty area where he was teed up by Fernandes to despatch a deflected shot past Pickford.

If the initial indications early in the second period suggested that United would take control of proceedings and eventually run away with it, Everton continued to dig in and frustrate them, even after Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and then Paul Pogba stepped off the bench to bolster the hosts' cause.

And of the couple of chances that were created in the first 20 minutes after the restart, both fell to Everton and Townsend. The first was an unlikely headed opportunity from Digne's cross that dropped onto the roof of the net but the second was delivered on a gilded platter by Doucouré at the end of a rapier-like breakaway.

The Toffees cleared a corner after the indomitable Allan had blocked an attempted centre from Scott McTominay and the ball was kept in brilliantly by Gray's quick feet after he had out-muscled Fred on the touchline. His ball inside found the rampaging figure of Doucouré and when he slid a perfectly-weighted pass into the path of Townsend, the new Blue hero despatched a crisp shot across the keeper whose feet remained rooted to the spot.

Davies replaced Gordon with 18 minutes to go as Benitez moved to shore up midfield to protect the point but Everton were nearly undone by Sancho and Ronaldo. Thankfully, the Portuguese cut his shot from a very right angle across the face of Pickford's goal and wide of the far post.

To the visitors' enormous credit, that would be the last real chance that the Red Devils would be allowed to create and had there been a winner, it would have been Everton's. Godfrey got the better of Sancho challenging for the ball after a corner from the Blues' left had been headed clear and then knocked it to Davies who had found himself in 10 yards of space and with the De Gea and his goal at his mercy.

The Tom Davies of a few years ago when he burst onto the first-team picture with that superb goal against the other Manchester club might well have buried this chance but, on the back of a much-criticised performance at QPR in the Carabao Cup in which his penalty miss send the Blues out, the 23-year-old is in a different head space.

He elected not to shoot on and chose instead to slide the ball across to Mina but, unfortunately, the defender was a yard ahead of the ball and the last man and the Blues's celebrations of a dramatic late winner were cut short but a quick check from Video Assistant Referee, Stuart Atwell.

In truth, while the post-match analysis from pundits has focused on United’s failings, had that been the winner it wouldn’t have flattered Everton who, as has become customary under Benitez, had far less of the ball but are making a habit — the defeat at Villa Park aside — being highly productive with it when they do. The Blues rank among the teams with the least average possession at the moment but are top five in attacking xG, a sign that Benitez is drawing the most out of the resources at his disposal without controlling matches.

Indeed, given the imbalance in the quality of these two squads in general and then the key absentees on the day that meant that in many ways meant Benitez came into the proverbial fight with one hand tied behind his back, this was a terrific performance and result from Everton.

More than that, it was effected by a group of players that engenders plenty of pride and which is incredibly easy to like, something that hasn’t always been the case in recent years. Benitez has put his trust in a small unit of hard-working pros exhibiting heart, desire and end product and, thus far, has been rewarded with Everton’s best points tally after seven games for 17 years.

With that as the platform, the squad can now use the international break to rest, get some of those important injury absentees back in the fold and prepare for back-to-back home games that provide a great opportunity to tack on more points in a bid to stay among the leading pack.

More stern challenges await against other title contenders but it's days like today that offer hope that none of them need be regarded as write-offs.

Lyndon Lloyd

Matchday Updates

Everton travel to Old Trafford to face Manchester United with three key players still sidelined.

Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin and Coleman are injured or unfit, while Delph, Iwobi and Gomes are also out of contention. Gordon starts with Charlie Whitaker making his first Premier League visit to the subs bench.

For Man Utd, Shaw and Wan-Bissaka are both back but Ronaldo and Sancho are rested after their midweek exertions in the Champions League.

Everton kicked off in all-blue and hoofed the ball long for a Man Utd goal kick. They eventually won the ball back but could not keep it long enough under the high press. The home side continued to dominate and pin Everton back, despite long clearances to nowhere.

Wan-Bissaka eventually created a chance for the Red Devils at the far post but Martial jumped all wrong and had to head well wide. Godfrey did well to block Shaw's cross for a corner but Greenwood's low cross was thankfully not turned in.

When Everton did have the ball, they found it difficult to get forward until Digne played a perfect ball through to Rondon in space with a brilliant opportunity but the lumbering giant took an age to command the ball and the shot was blocked behind.

Rondon was fouled by Wan-Bissake, setting up a free-kick that Digne curled in very well but it was hooked clear by Martial. Gray almost laid on a chance but put it behind Rondon. Shaw gave Digne another set-piece, this one Keane perhaps should have scored with a glancing header that went wide.

After that brief respite, Man Utd won a corner, but Everton broke in a good counter that fizzled out with Gordon's poor attempted cross. Doucouré was playing very deep and seemed reluctant to move the team forward. Cavani had a free header that drew a tremendous save by Pickford.

Another Man Utd corner was laboriously half-cleared. Finally, Doucouré did break up the right with Townsend but a nice ball in to Rondon was fired at a defender. At the other end, Fgreenwood put a oft shot in on Pickford

McTominay whipped out Gordon then Digne was fouled and McTominay tried to make him get up, leading to major handbags and finally with no sanction of McTominay, of course from Michael Oliver. At least it showed that Everton were getting under their skin and they were'There followed an excellent Everton move and a brilliant Gordon cross that deserved to be converted but wasn't by Townsend after Rondon, who had the better chance, missed it completely.

Gray did well to got some space and time to shoot but it was a low shot that proved easy meat for De Gea to save. Gordon was fouled and Oliver finally showed Greenwood the yellow card.

Another great move down the right and crossed in to Doucoure who met it brilliantly first time but a defender had anticipated his strike and blocked it. Man Utd attacked again but the Everton defence had grown into the game and repelled them.

Everton won another free-kick in midfield, Gray curling it in perfectly for Mina but he got underneath it rather than putting in a more firmly directed header. Everton were momentarily more open at the back and Godfrey needed to execute a very well-timed tackle to avert the danger.

But it suddenly all fell apart as the ball came through to Martial in far too much space, Godfrey leaving acres of space for him, then getting far too close to Mina, as Martial lashed home his shot deflected over Pickford from wide left, a poor poor goal for Everton to give up.

Martial teed up another shot but this was a soft one for Pickford. A pity given the wealth of chances Everton had squandered to give up such an annoying goal.

The home side restarted after the break, Allan tried to release Gray from deep in defence but his pass was wayward. Gordon broke way but missed his chance to pass forward, and Everton backed up, Godfrey conceding the corner. Greenwood's shot was again easy for Pickford.

Gordon played a nice hopeful ball expertly down the line for Rondon to amble after... what a complete waste of space. When the ball came to Rondon in a break out from defence, he just gave it away.

Townsedn played a lovely ball in for Rondon, who ran away from it while the defender ran toward it. Astounding. Crucially, Ronaldo and Sanacho then came on. WOuld the gapping hole at right-back be further exploited?

SOme brilliant passing down the left (Gordon) set up Gray for a great run in but he just lost steam and couldn't pull the trigger. A Man Utd corner went right everyone, Keane had to stop Greenwood. Allan was then fouled by Fernandes.

A sweeping Man Utd attack was somehow foiled. Doucoure then tried to battle his way through on his own but the half-chances of the first period were not being repeated.

Another Man Utd corner but Everton broke at pace, Gray tenmaciously retaining the ball before finding Doucouré who fed the perfect ball in and Andros Townsend finished beautifully. "Wonderful goal for Everton, outstanding!" — Martin Keown.

The game now had a new feeling about it — not the one written in the script, Everton showing some fine spirit and determination. Fred was pulled for Pogba, meanwhile. Then the match-winning move by Benitez was to pull the effervescent Gordon for the mundane journeyman in Tom Davies.

Man Utd were trying harder and harder to get back in front as the tension in the game stepped up a few notches. Davies produced a fine forward pass for Gray who this time was very well marked. At the other end, Sancho fed Ronaldo near post but his shot flew across Pickford's goal.

Doucouré was booked for a foul on Fernandes, then Greenwood tried but failed to play in Ronaldo. Gray tried to fight for a ball at the other end, it had an end-to-end feel as to who would get the winner. Fernandes fired a low cross that evaded everyone, and then more stern Everton defence was needed.

Everton tried to create more attacks but Davies's touch was off. At the other end, Pogba curled one over the angle after Sancho easily beat Godfrey. Pogba then had a free header from a corner that went wide.

Davies did well to intercept and Doucouré won a corner, and from it, Davies in space fed Mina who scored but looked offside and it was deemed to be so.

Into the final minutes of the game and Man Utd attacked trying to set up Ronaldo but Everton defended resolutely. Could they build another break? On came Lewis Dobbin, far too late for a short cameo, and replacing Gray rather than the lumpen Rondon.

A late free-kick for a foul on Snacho but Ronaldo had strayed offside. Everton kept trying to push forward but without much effect and that was it. A game they should have won on chances created, Everton have to accept a draw.

Kick-off: 12:30 BST, Saturday 2 October 2021

Manchester United: De Gea, Wan Bissaka, Varane, Lindelof, Shaw, McTominay, Fred (68' Pogba), Greenwood [Y:35'], Fernandes, Martial (57' Sancho), Cavani (56' Ronaldo).
Subs: Bailly, Lingard,Henderson, Alex Telles, Matic, van de Beek.

Everton:Pickford, Godfrey, Keane, Mina, Digne, Doucoure [Y:76'], Allan, Townsend, Gray (90+3' Dobbin), Gordon (72' Davies), Rondon.
Subs: Begovic, Lonergan, Kenny, Holgate, Gbamin, Branthwaite, Whitaker, .

Referee: Michael Oliver
VAR: Stuart Atwell

Michael Kenrick

First away game for the little fella

With close family friends living just up the road who have season tickets for Manchester United, I usually jump in the car with them for the trip to Old Trafford. However, I usually bring just myself. This time I experimented with bringing my almost 5-year-old son along to see how much he would enjoy a raucous Evertonian away support.

While this seemed a good idea when I ordered tickets, as the game got closer, I became increasingly nervous about it. He hasn’t been to a match since he was a little older 2-year-old against Lincoln City in the FA Cup. He seemed to enjoy that experience then, in that he clapped and cheered when others did, though if not for a tablet device and child headphones, I’m not so sure how well he would have coped. Now he is older and more streetwise, he’ll quickly tell me if he isn’t enjoying it. It’s one thing if he finds it a bit much at Goodison Park. We’re seated most of the game and, if absolutely essential, it’s not a big problem to call it a day and go home. When we’re away at Old Trafford, however, and depending on a lift home, it’s another story.

He slept most of the way there while we chewed the fat with my friends as we headed up the M56 in what became increasingly heavy rain as we approached Manchester. Yes, typically. Despite it benefiting Everton, we were all rocked in the car by the news that Cristiano Ronaldo was not starting the game. Anthony Gordon replaced the injured Alex Iwobi in Everton’s only change. We parked on the street, about a 20-minute walk from the stadium as the rain tumbled down. We walked past Lancashire Cricket Ground. “Are we there yet, Daddy?” I was asked plenty of times. We were there about 10 minutes before kick-off. Just enough time to get some food and get to our seats.

As is almost always the norm at away games, everyone was stood up throughout. My son had quite the shock when he realised he couldn’t see anything if he stayed seated so had to stand on his seat. This he didn’t like as the seat wouldn’t balance very well. Another thing he really didn’t like was how much everyone was shouting. This probably wasn’t helped by one fella in front of me, who swore and shouted incessantly throughout.

It’s football and it's an away game. I get it, I don’t expect everyone to behave like saints. I certainly swear from time to time at the game. Some songs contain swear words. However shouting ‘F’ and ‘C’ words continuously, and not even for any apparent reason as far as I can tell, is a bit much, particularly when there’s children around.

My son found it a bit too much and, after maybe 10 minutes of the game, he resorted to staying in his seat and playing games on my phone. Though disappointed, he struggled with it; I could at least then take in more of the game.

Just as well it was a good one then as, despite being depleted in numbers, Everton battled admirably throughout. All the midfielders, including our wingers, battled manfully, and our defenders were up for the fight in defence. We dared to get excited when Salomon Rondon got behind the defence only to hesitate and have his effort charged down, though the flag had earlier gone up for offside. At the other end, Anthony Martial headed an effort wide at the back post when maybe he should have done better, and Edinson Cavani also headed at goal though this time Jordan Pickford was down smartly to save, though perhaps the Uruguayan should have scored.

There was a real flashpoint when Scott McTominay tried to unnecessarily drag up a sprawled Lucas Digne from the turf. Good on our lads for having none of it and getting stuck into the Manchester United players with more or less everyone involved from both teams. Other than trying to get under the skin of the opposition, I don’t get what Scott McTominay was doing and what his problem was.

Everton continued to battle, our supporters vocally backing them all the way. Abdoulaye Doucoure and Allan in the middle both did particularly well in the first half. Demarai Gray at one point ran the ball a fair distance and drove at goal though David de Gea beat it away well. Everton had plenty of play in and around the penalty area though couldn’t quite break through to hurt Manchester United.

Manchester United were not really hurting Everton either by this stage and a half-time stalemate looked likely. By this point, I’d managed to convince my son to get up and watch a bit of the game. It turned out to be bad timing as, with what felt like out of nowhere, Bruno Fernandes found Anthony Martial inside the penalty area who finished ferociously to give Manchester United a half-time lead. It felt pretty gutting given how well Everton had competed. Plenty of work for Rafa to do at the break to keep the players focused with a plan of how to get level.

I had work to do myself at half-time in convincing my son to give it more of a go in the second half. In the end, we compromised on watching 15 minutes until the hour mark, and if he still didn’t like it, he could have my phone back.

Somehow this worked, and he was all of a sudden much more interested and asking questions about what was happening. “Why do so many people come and watch, Daddy?” has asked. He couldn’t understand it, though for comparison, he’s more experienced with watching his local cricket club play in front of 50 people or so.

I was very pleased he saw the goal, particularly given the excellence of it. Allan cleared from a corner kick and it was at least in the area of the park where Demarai was positioned, but with Fred and a couple of other defenders around him, you didn’t see much opportunity.

Yet he battled, shielded the ball, thought quickly and moved away from them and looked up for support and who else would it be but Abdoulaye Doucouré who had sprinted up the pitch to help out Demarai. He took a few touches and the key moment was his brilliant drop of the shoulder which took a couple of players out. He looked up and who else but Andros Townsend had sprinted up the pitch on the opposite flank. He was in space. The weight of Abdoulaye’s pass was perfect. Andros took a touch and fired past David de Gea, sending us into raptures. My son joined in the cheering which was quite a special moment for me. From then on in he was mostly hooked.

It was very absorbing mind. By this point, Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho had entered the arena and Everton still had plenty to do. But Everton didn’t lose their bottle. They didn’t cave in the fight. Rafa Benitez made a good substitution, replacing the tiring Anthony Gordon, who did very well, with another local lad, Tom Davies.

And it was Tom Davies who could, probably should have won Everton the game late on. A corner kick, Everton’s only one of the game, was cleared. Ben Godfrey kept it alive and it was fed back in to Tom Davies in loads of space. He took a touch and it looked for all the world like he would shoot. Instead, he squared it across goal for Yerry Mina who easily tapped in. The offside flag stayed down and the players celebrated. Everton ahead, my son celebrating, though you could only do so cautiously. We were well in line with the play and it looked offside, and alas it turned out to be.

How gutting. Though goals aren’t really Tom’s forte, when you’re in that position, you really should have a crack. That said, it was a very clever ball also, and Yerry really should have kept himself onside. It really is one that got away.

We also survived an even later scare when a beautiful backheel from Cristiano Ronaldo freed fellow substitute Jadon Sancho, though his scuffed effort was comfortably saved by Jordan Pickford. That was pretty much it. Michael Oliver blew for full-time, and an honourable mention for him; he officiated superbly in my view. The best referee in the league for me. He lets teams get stuck in but keeps good control. He hasn’t always been good in my opinion, not least when he disallowed a clean Sylvan Distin header at Anfield before booking Victor Anichebe for asking why, and then apologising to Steven Gerrard when the Liverpool captain called him a “shithouse”; but credit where it's due, he has massively improved.

At full-time, we escaped quickly and marched back to the car, my son on my stiff shoulders for most of the way. On the journey back, myself and my Manchester United friends all felt it was a game that got away for our respective clubs. Given we were literally a few inches away from actually winning, I couldn’t really agree with them; I felt we should have won, but I guess begrudgingly accepting a draw at Old Trafford shows very good signs of progress. Meanwhile, my son entertained with a sing-song.

Onto the next one, and now my son has had a taste for it. I’m now really looking forward to taking him back to Goodison Park.

Player ratings

Jordan Pickford: Had a good game. He couldn’t do anything with the goal and saved well when called upon. Distributed pretty well also. 7

Lucas Digne: He was excellent defensively, notably so in the first half down in front of us. He really dug in. 8

Yerry Mina: Also excellent. Stood firm throughout. I just wish he’d have held his line and he could have been celebrating a winning goal at Old Trafford. 8

Michael Keane: Probably the pick of the two centre-backs for me. Mopped up and read the game well. 8

Ben Godfrey: That was much more like it from Ben, the best he’s played this season. Much more like last term. Hopefully he’s now well on the mend from Covid and getting back to his best. 7

Allan: He was excellent in the first half. He tired in the second but the effort was still there throughout. 7

Abdoulaye Doucouré: Another superb display from Abdoulaye who covered every blade of grass. Magnificent. 8

Anthony Gordon: He’s a good player. Not quick, but very technically good. He uses his body well to good effect and has a good brain on him. He reminds me of Adam Lallana a good few years back – very technically good but without pace. Lucas Digne seemed to enjoy combining with him. 7

Andros Townsend: Full of industry and good use of the ball when he had it. He took his goal well, and you always felt he would score from there. You wish the Tom Davies chance would have fallen to him instead but what can you do? A great effort again. 8

Demarai Gray: Probably the one player we had who had a real cutting edge and wouldn’t look out of place at one of the top teams. His strength, composure and skill for our goal was outstanding, and he was a constant threat throughout. Quite brilliant. He and Andros have already far surpassed my expectations. My Man of the Match. 8

Salomon Rondon: I think he’s getting better. After so long without playing it was always going to take time for Salomon, and nobody was expecting him to start so many games so quickly. He’s now completed two back-to-back 90 minutes in Premier League games. He showed some good flicks and kept on going. All-in-all, we can’t really complain. 6

Tom Davies (for Anthony Gordon): He got into the game quickly, just such a shame his most telling impact didn’t result in a goal. Keep going, Tom. 6

Lewis Dobbin (for Demarai Gray): Came on to help run down the clock. Not on long enough to judge. He’s been off the substitutes bench twice in a row now so Rafa must see something in him.

Paul Traill

Match Preview

Everton face arguably their toughest test of the season thus far as they travel to Old Trafford to face a Manchester United side high on talent but who have exhibited some weaknesses in recent weeks.

The Red Devils sit above the Blues in the Premier League table on goal difference but have only won two of their last five games in all competitions and it took a very late goal by Cristiano Ronaldo to take the points against Villarreal in the Champions League on Wednesday night, a match they were fortunate to win.

Prior to that, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had overseen successive home defeats, to West Ham in the Carabao Cup and Aston Villa in the League last weekend, results that will give Rafael Benitez hope that his men can bring a result back down the M62 from the lunchtime kick-off.

The Spaniard looks likely to have a similar pool of available players from which to choose as Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Seamus Coleman return to individualised training but neither will be available until after the international break. Likewise Richarlison who has been pictured doing gym work as he continues his recovery from the knee injury he sustained against Burnley.

Jean-Philippe Gbamin was shown training with the group at Finch Farm, suggesting that he could available to make his first League fixture of the campaign but he is an unlikely starter, particularly given his shortage of match fitness.

Indeed, barring some unforeseen news on the injury front from Benitez's press conference, the midfield and attacking positions will probably remain unchanged, which would mean Salomon Rondon continuing up front supported by Demarai Gray and with Alex Iwobi and Andros Townsend in the wider roles.

In defence, Ben Godfrey is the likely deputy again for Coleman and although he needed some treatment during the win over Norwich last time out, Jordan Pickford looks set to take his customary place in goal.

Everton may be going to United without two of the players who scored in last season's six-goal thriller — Calvert-Lewin is out and James Rodriguez is gone — but they will travel in confidence despite having lost their last two games on the road.

As Doucouré admitted to the Official Site earlier this week, the Blues' players know that the loss to Aston Villa was a much closer-run thing than the 3-0 scoreline suggested and that the squad will have learned from the experience.

That will stand them in good stead against a United side that is brimming with talent and has a match-winner in the form of Ronaldo but who have not been all that convincing of late.

That means that of the Toffees can get under their skin early and use the space in transition that will inevitably open up given the way Solskjaer's men play, there will be opportunities to get something from the game. A point would be more than satisfactory; a win would be a massive confidence-booster and lay down a marker, perhaps, for what this team can do under Benitez despite its and depleted numbers.

Kick-off: 12:30pm, Saturday 2 October, 2021
Referee: Michael Oliver
VAR: Stuart Atwell
Last Time: Manchester United 3 - 3 Everton

Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Godfrey, Keane, Mina, Digne, Allan, Doucouré, Iwobi, Townsend, Gray, Rondon

Lyndon Lloyd

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