Best odds: 51/20
In their upcoming Premier League fixture at Goodison Park on Sunday, Everton will face Manchester United, marking their first match since receiving a significant 10-point deduction due to breaching the Premier League’s Profit and Sustainability regulations.
The deduction has led Everton to fall into the relegation zone, while inconsistency may be the best word to describe United’s form before the international break.
The international break brought mixed emotions for Everton supporters. Following Sean Dyche’s team securing their third win in four matches across all competitions in a thrilling five-goal encounter against Crystal Palace, the mood swiftly shifted. The club was hit with an unprecedented blow as they were penalized with a severe 10-point deduction for purportedly recording excessive financial losses. The sudden deduction left the Toffees in a state of shock and disappointment, finding themselves in 19th place in the league table, with a mere four points to their credit.
Presently, Everton narrowly avoids being at the bottom of the table, a spot currently held by Burnley due to a weaker goal-difference.
But regardless of the off-field challenges, Dyche’s team has shown resilience on the pitch. Despite Crystal Palace twice equalizing after Everton took the lead, Idrissa Gueye’s 86th-minute goal secured a crucial victory, extending Everton’s unbeaten run to four matches, with six wins in their last nine outings.
Dyche obviously faces the challenge of maintaining his team’s focus amidst the turmoil of the points deduction, with transfer speculation likely to intensify. But even in such circumstances, the Everton faithful remain hopeful for a much-needed morale boost as they anticipate their upcoming match on Sunday.
In the midst of Everton’s thrilling 3-2 victory against Crystal Palace, United-linked midfielder Amadou Onana was forced off due to a tight calf. The issue also prevented the 22-year-old from joining the Belgium squad for the final international break of Euro 2024 qualifiers, and his availability for the next match hinges on passing a late fitness assessment.
Additionally, Andre Gomes is nursing a calf concern and might have a slim chance of returning. Seamus Coleman continues his gradual fitness build-up and won’t be ready for selection just yet. Meanwhile, Dele Alli remains sidelined with a groin injury.
If Onana doesn’t pass the fitness test, Gueye, the hero of the Selhurst Park game, is poised to step into the midfield alongside James Garner.
Potentially setting a good example for Everton, United’s on-field focus has managed to counterbalance their off-field distractions, particularly amidst ongoing ownership concerns and the disciplinary issues with Jadon Sancho, leading to a steady ascent toward Champions League contention under Erik ten Hag’s guidance.
While their attacking potency remains a concern, Victor Lindelof’s decisive goal against Luton Town exemplified United’s resilience, securing their fourth win in five Premier League games, each won by a narrow margin—reflecting a strategy of grinding out results rather than overwhelming victories. Sitting sixth in the table, they’re slowly closing the five-point gap to the top four.
Despite their defensive stability, United’s 13-goal tally is the lowest among top-half teams, even trailing Everton by a single goal. However, they have the chance to achieve a rare feat by securing four consecutive away wins in the Premier League, a record they haven’t achieved since December 2020.
The Red Devils have recently dominated clashes against Everton, winning their last three encounters, including a turnaround at Goodison Park last season where they overcame Everton’s lead with goals from Antony and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Andre Onana joins the list of fresh concerns for Manchester United, having recently suffered an adductor strain while on international duty. Reports suggest he has recovered and is expected to start in goal at Goodison Park.
However, Rasmus Hojlund is uncertain due to a thigh issue he encountered in the Luton victory. Christian Eriksen also suffered an injury in that match, exiting the field in the first half due to a knee problem, with a recovery period estimated to take a few weeks.
Casemiro (thigh), Lisandro Martinez (foot), Jonny Evans (thigh), Tyrell Malacia (knee), Amad Diallo (knee), and Facundo Pellistri (knock) are among the other players currently sidelined due to various injuries. Sancho remains unavailable with his spat with Ten Hag still unresolved, while Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka are back in training and might feature in the matchday squad after Shaw’s recent return following illness.
Both teams should be highly motivated to get the most from this encounter, which obviously suggests an interesting contest is on the cards.
United obviously have more quality in their ranks, but their attacking struggles coupled with the booming Goodison Park atmosphere will likely damage their chances of a victory. A share of the spoils would not be considered a bad result for either side.
Best odds: 51/20
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