Everton can get something from Old Trafford with new found resiliance
After a dramatic and controversial 1-1 draw against Tottenham last Monday night, Everton now face Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday lunchtime.
Monday’s result was both heartening and frustrating at the same time.
In one way, the ability Everton showed to come back from a goal and a man down to claim a point, was very encouraging.
Rarely in the past, have this group of Blues’ players exhibited the kind of determination and desire to fight back from a losing position we saw against Chelsea and then Spurs’ and it is certainly a good sign.
On the other hand, this was another home game that the Toffees’ really needed to win. And, based on the balance of play – especially after they went down to ten men – actually deserved to.
So, while it was good in the end to savalge something from a match that seemed lost, it still felt as though it was two points dropped in a way.
Now, its the 50-odd mile trip to Manchester for a game against United at a ground where Everton have a truly terrible record going back years.
The last time a team in royal blue won there was ten years ago through a Bryan Oviedo goal.
I have always felt that the Blues’ will need at least one win away from fortress Goodison to ensure their survival this season. I stand by that.
Old Trafford though doesn’t seem a likely place for the Toffees’ to secure that crucial win on their travels.
Looking at the two squads and taking into account Everton’s record there, it would be a very optimistic person who imagines the Blues’ coming away with a point, let alone three.
But there just might be a basis for feeling optimistic and that is the new-found resiliance and determination in this Everton team.
As well as solid organsation and shape, Sean Dyche has instilled a hugely improved mentality in the squad he inherited as he took over the reigns from Frank Lampard.
He has picked up twelve points since becoming manager and has revived players like Abdoulaye Doucoure who looked a spent force and on his way out of the club.
This is all the more impressive when you consider Dyche wasn’t able to bring in a single new player after Everton’s farcical January transfer window.
Going into Saturday’s match the Toffees’ are unbeaten in four games and have come back twice from behind to secure points at Chelsea and against Spurs’.
At Stamford Bridge, and again on Monday evening, Everton showed the sort of real grit and fight required to get out of this situation.
Importantly too, they also found the individual quality in the end to get the reward that effort deserved. Ellis Simms fine run and shot at Chelsea and Michael Keane’s superb piledriver were both excellent goals.
The fact these goals were scored when the pressure was on also shows that players are stepping up and finding the way to make something happen.
The Toffees’ will probably need all these qualities and perhaps a bit of luck too if they are to get a result on Saturday, although United are very inconsistent and have suffered some poor results recently.
As for team news, unsurprisingly, Dominic Calvert-Lewin is again unavailable and so Dyche will have to make do and mend up front as he has done so far.
Otherwise he has a near-full squad apart form long-term injured like Andros Townsend, and of course the now suspended Doucoure.
Will he spring a tactical surprise with his Mali midfielder out, or stick with his tried and tested formula?
Hoping for three points seems extremely unlikely, but if Everton can replicate the qualities we have seen now for several weeks in a row, then a point could be a real possibility.
Unexpected points gained, especially away from home as we have seen, all count and help to ease some of the pressure on those still remaining home fixtures.