Everton and Manchester United are looking to bounce back after disappointing Premier League defeats, but Mark O'Haire is anticipating goals at Goodison Park...
"Erratic has been the best way to describe Manchester United’s efforts thus far"
Everton v Manchester United
Saturday November 7, 12:30
Everton unimpress at St James' Park
Everton missed the chance to return to the top of the Premier League last weekend with a limp performance in a 2-1 defeat at Newcastle. The Toon took the lead from the penalty spot not long after half-time and were rarely tested by the Toffees throughout the tussle; Carlo Ancelotti's troops enjoying 63% of the ball but struggling to fashion clear-cut chances.
Ancelotti said his players lacked concentration and focus in defensive areas and it was clear to see Everton toiled without key personnel in forward areas. Suspended forward Richarlison was joined on the sidelines by injured playmaker James Rodriguez and Toffees mustered just four shots on target, including Dominic Calvert-Lewin's late consolation.
A five-man midfield containing players who all prefer to operate from central roles didn't help Everton's cause, nor did the absence of full-backs Lucas Digne and Seamus Coleman. Digne and James could return to the fold for Saturday's clash, whilst England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford is expected to be recalled despite a solid display from Robin Olsen.
Man Utd flop in Turkey
Manchester United suffered a chastening night after conceding an embarrassing opening goal as they were humbled 2-1 by Champions League rookies Istanbul Basaksehir on Wednesday. The Turks had not scored a goal or claimed a point in their opening two games in the competition but couldn't have wished for an easier way to get off the mark.
The Red Devils' defence curiously went missing, allowing former Chelsea and Newcastle striker Demba Ba to run clear from the halfway line and fire past Dean Henderson. And United's defensive efforts for the second goal were almost as bad, Deniz Turuc dispossessing Juan Mata and finding Edin Visca in acres of space in the box to smash home.
The visitors were given hope when Anthony Martial headed in from a Luke Shaw cross two minutes before the interval, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side could not salvage a result in a shabby second half showing, escalating speculation surrounding the Norwegian's future. Only Eric Bailly, Alex Telles and Phil Jones are confirmed absentees for United this weekend.
Red Devils unsteady favourites at Goodison
Everton are unbeaten in their last three league games against Man Utd (W1-D2-L0), with both games last season ending 1-1. The Toffees have returned W1-D2-L1 in their most recent meetings with United at Goodison Park, whilst the hosts are looking to avoid defeat against the Red Devils for four successive league matches for the first time since 1990.
Back-to-back defeats have tempered the mood around early pacesetters Everton 3.002/1, though key injuries and suspensions hampered progress. Carlo Ancelotti's men will be understrength on Saturday but the possible returns of Lucas Digne and James should ensure a competitive display. The hosts have W6-D6-L1 at home under the Italian boss.
Erratic has been the best way to describe Manchester United's 2.486/4 efforts thus far. The Red Devils have produced a couple of standout performances but come into this contest on the back of two desperately poor displays that have piled the pressure on manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. What's more, the guests face a quick turnaround after a long away trip.
Goals may flow
Goals have tended to flow in Everton's outings under Carlo Ancelotti - 17/27 (63%) Premier League match-ups featuring Both Teams To Score - and Saturday's showdown could follow the trends with Over 2.5 Goals appealing at 1.814/5. The hosts have kept just six shutouts in that same sample, although the Toffees have notched in 12 of 13 Goodison Park games.
The hosts have conceded at least two goals in each of their past four league fixtures on Merseyside and Manchester United have tended to find the back of the net on the road. In fact, the visitors have managed to get on the scoresheet in their last 20 games as guests across all competitions since January 2020, 11 of their most recent 15 going Over 2.5.
Mark's 2020/21 Profit/Loss
Staked: 33.00 pts
Returned: 38.70 pts
P/L: +5.70 pts
Back Over 2.5 Goals at 1.81 in Everton v Manchester United