Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo have led the way in goal contributions at Manchester United in the Premier League under Ralf Rangnick this season, having recorded seven each. Fred has managed six-goal contributions and is a surprise name in second.
United play Everton on Saturday afternoon and Frank Lampard will be preparing to wart the Reds’ attacking options. Everton have struggled for form all season and their results have become increasingly worse. Their Premier League status now appears genuinely vulnerable after a midweek defeat to Burnley and Lampard will be desperate for his side to get a result against United.
Anyone who has watched Everton this season will know that United should win the fixture. That’s quite the statement when considering how consistently inept United have been this term. Everton just aren’t a pleasant watch for the neutral.
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Everton are now fighting to stay in the Premier League and United will be wary of that extra desire from their players, although It has been popularly suggested that Lampard’s squad don’t actually have the character that a relegation battle demands.
The manner in which they battled to beat Newcastle 1-0 with 10-men provided encouragement for survival, but three defeats against Crystal Palace, West Ham and Burnley have followed. Their performances have had all the hallmarks of relegation.
The Goodison Park crowd will try to unnerve United tomorrow. When the air raid sirens play when the players enter the pitch, just ahead of the early kick-off, United will know they’re in for war. They need to silence the crowd from the beginning. Everton fans are staring at relegation from the Premier League for the first time in the club’s history and United need to use that to their advantage.
Lampard has stressed the importance of getting results at Goodison for Everton’s survival, but the crowd can go silent and the atmosphere can turn tense if the opposition takes control of the game. United can’t allow Everton to have a bright start.
That will be key in winning the match and so will a personal duel between Fernandes and Anthony Gordon. The Liverpool-born youngster has only broken into the Everton team this season but he’s displaying the fight that his teammates aren’t.
Everton fans have responded to one of their own rallying for the cause as they would expect. Gordon has swiftly become a fan favorite and he’s already one of Lampard’s most trusted lieutenants, despite being at the start of his career, aged 21.
That’s an indication of the mire that Everton find themselves embroiled in. United will hardly be quaking in their boots over the threat Gordon will pose, but Lampard has also used him to man-mark the opposition since he took over at the club.
Gordon is relentless in midfield – sometimes overzealous and petulant – and he’ll not give Fernandes a moment’s peace. Fernandes is United’s most creative outlet and it’s important he prevails in that personal duel with Gordon to win United the three points.
The manner of United’s performance 1-1 draw against Leicester was disappointing and the draw was a major blow to their hopes of securing Champions League football. Both sides need to win this game on Saturday and that adds to the intrigue of the contest.
While it has been a miserable season for United, it would be another brutal low if they can’t beat this awful Everton side.
Fernandes’ duel with Gordon and silencing Goodison Park will be key to doing so.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.