I cannot remember a feeling of such optimism amongst Blues heading into a game at Old Trafford. Not since Everton were the kings of English football have confidence levels been so high. But when Roberto Martinez’ men take to the field on Wednesday night they will do so believing that three points and a continuation of the fantastic run of unbeaten games can continue.
It is the positivity in Everton’s play that gives substance to the belief that the Blues can go to the home of the Champions and return to Merseyside victorious. For near on 15 years, Everton have arrived at Old Trafford in fear of United, determined to pack men behind the ball and stifle the fantastic array of attacking talent possessed by the Red Devils. But these are changing times in what is rapidly becoming the most open Premier League since the breakaway from the Football League in 1992.
David Moyes has spoken openly about the fear of facing United during his Everton tenure, which seriously limited his approach to tackling Alex Ferguson’s United. Moyes’ defensive mind-set brought limited success, with 3 out of a possible 33 points in his 11 years in charge at Goodison.
Martinez has already signalled his intent to change that dismal record, with Everton prepared to take on United as equals; the Blues are 3 places higher in the league than Moyes’ United after all. Ahead of the game Martinez spoke about a desire to change the Toffees poor record against the traditional Sky Four.
“We’ve not won away at Man United, Chelsea, Arsenal or Liverpool for 10 years. We need to address that.”
And Everton, on the back of a fantastic win over Stoke and with only one league defeat so far this season are better placed than at any time in the last 20 years to end that barren spell. With Robin van Persie out injured, it is Roberto Martinez and Everton, rather than United who will be spoilt for choice when it comes to his team selection. Mirallas, Deulofeu, Barkley, Pienaar and Osman are vying for 3 attacking midfield spots to support the outstanding Lukaku. Behind them, Barry and McCarthy look considerably stronger than anything United can offer in midfield. The fantastically over rated Cleverly, the flyaway Brazilian Anderson, or the out of form ex-Toffee Fellaini look to be Moyes’ options, with Carrick and Giggs both struggling for fitness and Phil Jones suspended.
Lifelong Evertonian, Wayne Rooney remains a significant threat and he showed against Tottenham what he is capable off, with two well taken goals, but aside from the Blue Scouser, Everton should not fear any of Moyes’ men. Everton must attack an aging United defence and use the growing discontent inside Old Trafford to their advantage. Evertonians are confident for a reason and the Blues could not have a better chance to beat United.