Everton - Goodison Park

What: English Premier League
Who: Everton vs Manchester United
When: Saturday 11th September, 2010, at 12:45 UK time
Where: Goodison Park, Liverpool, England

Time to Pick Up

The start of the new season hasn’t been all smiles for David Moyes and his squad. One solitary point earned against Wolverhampton Wanderers has created an aura of panic around the club, even just three fixtures into the new campaign. Defender Sylvain Distin admitted that he and the rest of his comrades haven’t produced the best of results, despite playing some good stuff: “"It’s frustrating because the results are not really what we expect. Altogether though, I think we’ve played quite well", said the Frenchman.

A significant improvement in end product, in terms of points then would come at the perfect time, as the Toffees prepare to host Manchester United. One silver lining that the club can look forward to enjoying is Phil Jagielka, who impressed away on international duty with England. In order to constrict past team-mate Wayne Rooney, he and John Heitinga will have to be on top form.

Back to Basics

The highlight of the night will certainly be Wayne Rooney’s return to his old stomping ground. The striker left Goodison Park on a sour note, and has never been forgiven by the crowd that saw him explode to the scene as a teenager. Rooney’s personal life has also been hit recently after claims of adultery, this has allegedly concerned Sir Alex Ferguson, who is said to be seeking a “Capello-Terry” confrontation with his star man. Not just that, but the Everton crowd are expected to make sure the England man endures a rough time, and that might be enough to put him off his game.

Already two points behind Chelsea in the title race, United have a near complete squad at their disposal. Rio Ferdinand and Anderson could be set to finally make their comebacks from injury after missing the World Cup, while Owen Hargreaves battles another setback and is sidelined for the foreseeable future. Ferguson knows that, with the Champions League coming midweek, he may well need to shuffle his pack, but can his risk defeat on Merseyside?

Recent form

Everton 1-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers (21/08; Premier League)
Everton 5-1 Huddersfield Town (25/08; League Cup)
Aston Villa 1-0 Everton (29/08; Premier League)

Manchester United:
Manchester United 3-0 Newcastle United (16/08; Premier League)
Fulham 2-2 Manchester United (22/08; Premier League)
Manchester United 3-0 West Ham (28/08; Premier League)

Key absences

Everton: Jack Rodwell (doubt); Yakubu (doubt); Phil Neville (doubt); Victor Anichebe (doubt); Louis Saha

Manchester United: Rio Ferdinand (doubt); Anderson (doubt); Owen Hargreaves

Players to watch

Everton – Mikel Arteta: The Spanish midfielder has dubbed the meeting with Manchester United a "must win" game and if Everton are to do just that then Arteta will need to be in top form. Recently his scores of fans were disappointed to learn he is not eligible for England after all, but the fact the star was considered should be taken as a huge compliment. With midfield likely to be a crucial area, Arteta will be key for Everton.

Manchester United – Wayne Rooney: Rooney has been grabbing headlines for the wrong reasons in recent days, as allegations of an extra-marital affair keep popping up in the British tabloids. The Number 10 will need to clear his mind completely as he faces a personal battle on Saturday; anything less than that would surely see him fail to produce the goods at his old club. If there is one game Rooney won’t want to be at less than his best in though, it’s this.

Match prediction

It is time that Everton start winning again, should they want to escape the relegation zone to safer ground, something that is rarely easy whenever Manchester United are involved. For Sir Alex Ferguson, dropping points would see the Mancunians fall even further away in the title race. Everton will want to put pressure on their opponents from the start, but last season’s runners-up should eventually claim all three points with a comfortable 3-0 scoreline.