Premier League – Manchester United v Everton Preview
Everton’s season may effectively be over after last week’s heart-breaking FA Cup semi-final defeat by Merseyside rivals Liverpool at Wembley, but it’s not in David Moyes’ nature to allow his players to coast through the remainder of their Premier League fixtures and, judged on their away record this term, the Toffees are likely to make Manchester United work hard for victory at Old Trafford.
Everton have already won five times on the road this season and only been beaten twice on their travels since the turn of the year, at Liverpool and Tottenham. They are often set up to catch teams on the break and those tactics may well trouble United, who came unstuck when European teams employed the same in the Champions League and Europa League this season. Moyes must decide whether or not to recall on-loan Dutchman Royston Drenthe for the trip to Old Trafford after he was left out of their FA Cup semi-final over a disciplinary matter. Drenthe has scored four times this season but this is an Everton team which generally shares the goals and the workload though they are, by some distance, the lowest scorers in the top half of the table. Only United and Manchester City have conceded less, however, and another low-scoring encounter may be on the cards this weekend.
Only Wigan Athletic and Tottenham Hotspur have managed to breach the United defence in the league since Chelsea blew a three-goal lead against the champions at the start of February and that 20th title is almost within touching distance for Sir Alex Ferguson’s men if they keep their nerve. Some questionable refereeing decision have gone their way lately which suggests that their name may already be on the Premier League trophy but they are unlikely to find it as easy to get through Everton’s defences as those of injury-hit Aston Villa last week. A home win should be forthcoming at 1/3 but there may not be much in it and the draw can be backed at 5/2 on the handicap with Everton receiving a one-goal start. A 2-1 correct score is 7/1 and it’s 5/2 that a penalty is scored in the match.