Everton-Manchester United Preview
LONDON (SE) – Manchester United's push towards a 20th top-flight English league title will face a stiff test on Sunday when they entertain Everton at Old Trafford.
United (20-2-3) are nine points clear of defending champions Manchester City atop the Premier League with 13 matches to play, but will be wary of an Everton side that beat them 1-0 at Goodison Park on the opening weekend of the current season.
Marouane Fellaini headed the winner for the Toffees back in August, and the Belgium international also scored when the Merseysiders rallied from 4-2 down to earn a 4-4 draw at Old Trafford on Apr. 23. United's crosstown rivals City went on to lift the Premier League trophy on goal difference after both sides finished the season on 89 points.
Sir Alex Ferguson is determined to avoid a repeat of last season's home game against the Toffees.
"It's a tough game on Sunday," Ferguson told the Manchester United website. "We were 4-2 up with seven or eight minutes to go. It was unexpected and we have to anticipate the unexpected in the run-in. That was a bad blow for us and it cost us the league.
"Everton are very experienced and, if you look at their record, they've only lost three games this season (the same number as United). They're obviously hard to beat. But the team is playing well, I'm pleased with their form and I'm pleased that the players we're changing around, when I'm making different team selections, are buying into it well."
The Red Devils have won their last nine home matches in the Premier League and are on a 13-match unbeaten streak. Fifth-place Everton (10-12-3) are undefeated in 12 of their last 13 league matches but remain a massive 20 points adrift of table-topping United.
The last time Everton won at Old Trafford was in August 1992, a 3-0 win with Peter Beardsley, Robert Warzycha and Mo Johnston scoring the goals for the Toffees.
Everton manager David Moyes admits Sunday's trip will be a difficult match for his side.
"I don't know if you can look at our recent results against them because over the years Manchester United have taken an awful lot of points off us," Moyes told evertontv. "Obviously the game this year we had a good victory and we had a hard draw there last year, but if you look over time they have taken far more points off us than we have off them.
"It's a real tough game for us. I don't think anybody would think it is anything less than that."
Ashley Young returns to the Manchester United squad after a five-match absence due to knee trouble, while Phil Jones (shingles) and Michael Carrick (hip) have both been declared fit. Everton top scorer Fellaini is expected to recover from a hip injury in time to face United, but defender Seamus Coleman is out for at least another fortnight with a thigh problem.
This will be the 189th meeting in all competitions between the sides. United hold the advantage with 81 wins to Everton's 65. There have been 35 draws since the sides first met in September 1892, a match Everton won 6-0.