The Everton against Manchester United clashes in modern times have given us moments to cherish for over a lifetime. Whenever both of these sides take to the pitch, the element of entertainment and end to end attacking football is guaranteed. And rightly so, this game has given Manchester United fans another reason to hate he city of Liverpool, considering the fact that Everton are the second Premier League hailing from Liverpool, who have started to assert their authority over the Red Devils.
And this weekend’s Everton United game won’t be any different at all. The atmosphere at Goodison Park is always as hostile as it can get for the away lot and when in a bad patch of form, you’d just detest to travel to a place such as that. Last season, United endured a 3-0 humiliation at the hands of the Blues and seemed just no match for them at all. This time, there’s no guarantee of three points to any of the sides, but there’s a guarantee of watchers being entertained. So, here are 3 battles that would be enticing when the Toffees will take on the Red Devils on Saturday afternoon at a noisy Goodison Park.
Gareth Barry v Bastian Schweinsteiger
Serving as the midfield generals of their respective sides, both Gareth Barry and Bastian Schweinsteiger would have a pivotal role to play for their sides. While Schweinsteiger, along with Michael Carrick has often helped United get hold of the game by the scruff of their neck, Barry alongside James McCarthy, has provided an impetus to the Everton attack to flow more freely. It’d be important for Everton not to allow Schweinsteiger dictate play and overrun their heart of the park with the help of Carrick, or it could prove detrimental to the game.
The roles of both the midfield generals have been quite the same- keep their sides ticking. Their acts have been more defensive minded than focused on attacking, with both making 2.3 and 1.9 tackles( for Barry) and interceptions to 1.9 and 1.6 (for Schweinsteiger) respectively. But it was the slow start that the United midfield that helped Arsenal in blowing them away in the space of just 20 minutes.
In games at Goodison Park, midfield battles often decide the outcome of games and this battle between two of the most experienced midfielders in the league could be an important factor in deciding as to which team comes out on top.
Chris Smalling v Romelu Lukaku
Both have been in sublime touch for their sides after enduring seasons they may well forget in years to come. While Smalling has emerged as a defensive wall for Louis van Gaal’s men, Lukaku’s match-winning hat-trick against West Bromwich Albion clearly suggested what the Belgian is capable of. Lukaku has scored 5 times in 8 Premier League games and his recent run of form is enough to scare the wits out of anyone, let alone Smalling. But the 24-year-old Englishman has assumed the form of being a scary entity of his own. He’s a reason why United are third in the league and while Lukaku excels in on the ball strength and heading, Smalling has won an average of 3.1 headers every game, making 2 tackles and 2.5 interceptions on an average.
Lukaku’s link up and communication with both Steve Naismith and Gerard Deulofeu has enabled him to make clever and troubling off the ball runs, allowing him to get in behind the defense easily. But in Smalling’s presence, United have looked a solid defensive outfit, with teams (apart from Arsenal) having forced to work hard to get in behind them. It’d be a mouth-watering battle between two of the most promising youngsters in the league, who have caught the eyes of many this season.
Ross Barkley v Michael Carrick
Ross Barkley, who had two terrific outing during the international break, has been a reason for as to why Everton have excelled in playing a pacy and high-quality football this season. He may have scored twice and may have assisted just thrice, but Barkley has looked menacing every time he’s been on the ball. He always seems to carry a substantial amount of threat when moving forward with the ball, and the Everton team as a whole is performing impressively, thanks to the 21-year-old. On the other hand, we have the ever reliable Michael Carrick, who has stood tall when against the most dangerous of threats. He may have not played as much as he could’ve in the absence of Morgan Schneiderlin or Bastian Schweinsteiger, but he’s someone who’s got an impeccable eye for reading the game, and he’s the player who brings a lot of composure to United’s play. His ability to hold onto the ball and pass it around with purpose has aided United since the 34-year-old joined from Spurs.
At the back of two commendable showings for Roy Hodgson’s men, Barkley is the man to watch out for, apart from Lukaku, and the onus falls on Mr. Reliable Michael Carrick to keep him at bay for United. If he can’t, the Red Devils could be staring at another defeat to Roberto Martinez’s men in Blue.