The opening Monday night game of the season sees us tackle last season’s runners up Man United in a face off which has regularly delivered exciting games during the Moyes era. This five point preview will take a look at the likely line-ups, players to keep an eye, key trends and suggesting betting.
United predominantly play 4-4-2 although their wide players are so advanced it’s often 4-2-4. At the back, Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones have all been injured and with Rafael on Olympic duty/out of form, Antonio Valencia has been deployed in the problem right back spot in pre season. This hasn’t seemed to affect them though and they have kept 4 clean sheets from 6 pre season games. This has enabled Nani and Ashley Young to be deployed in the key wide berths with new recruit Shinji Kagawa mainly featured in “the hole”behind Rooney. I’d expect Danny Welbeck to partner the former toffee up top as with Van Persie probably starting his United career from the bench.
2. Favoured Route to goal
Like us, United attack predominantly down the flanks and unsurprisngly scored the most headed goals (16) in the top flight last season. Rooney will look to come deep and with him, Scholes and Carrick they have great options in terms of distributing to the wide players / Welbeck in advanced areas as was the case in the 4-4. The below visual demonstrates this;
Welbeck has done superbly against us in recent seasons and for me he is the main threat. He has scored a brace against us in each of the last 2 seasons plus a couple of assists. He possesses intelligent movement and has the capacity to pull apart rigid defensive shapes. This will be a real concern for Moyes going into this one as despite having the third tightest defence in the top flight last season United’s forwards dragged Heitinga and Jags all over the place in the away fixture and United could have scored more than 4.
We usually play a counter attacking style against the top sides and I wouldn’t expect this to change on Monday night. In terms of selection, Neville has been deployed in midfield to disrupt Utd’s passing rhythm in recent times but personally, I’d play Osman (rather than Neville) as he and Fellaini are comfortable in either MC / AMC positions which gives us the chance to quickly switch things from a long to short game or vice versa should it be required.
Defensively we need to keep our shape better than we did at Old Trafford. Heitinga and Jagielka need to hold their position and avoid following United’s forwards away from our goal and thus reducing the space in behind. United’s wingers are always positioned so advanced playing on the line so it’s implicit that we don’t lose the ball in our own half and enable them to engineer fast break situations.
The Right back area is weak for United with Rafael outfoxed regularly by Pienaar last time out. Whilst solid aerially, United’s centre back duo have a vulnerability in terms of pace that we can exploit. We have scored at least 3 in a game vs Utd in each of the last 3 seasons so Moyes clearly knows how to get at them.
With both sides playing with great width, there is always gaps in the alleys between full backs and centre backs for attacking players to exploit. Whilst the 4-4 was a belter this game pits 2 of the leagues top 3 defences from last season so don’t necessarily expect another humdinger goals wise.;
4 Tips To Ponder….
16/5 Everton to win outright (Bet Victor)
Welbeck to score anytime 2/1 William Hill
8/1 Everton to come from behind to draw ( Willie Hills). .this has happened 3 of last 4 seasons
17/20 Under 2.5 goals in the game (Bet365)