Manchester United travel to Everton for their first game back from the international break hoping to carry on their decent form in the Premier League.
Four league wins in five have eased the pressure on manager Erik ten Hag who, despite overseeing an underwhelming start to his second season in charge, will find himself five points off top should United win this afternoon.
However, it will take a big effort from Ten Hag’s troops to come away with the three points with a raucous atmosphere awaiting them at Goodison Park.
The game is to be played against the backdrop of an unprecedented ten point deduction handed out to Everton by the Premier League for breaking Profitability and Sustainability rules.
Therefore, United’s chances of getting the win will come down to how they handle the atmosphere in the stands, as much as any clever tactics from the manager.
This set of United players are not well known for their ability to play in hostile atmospheres and on a day where cool heads will be required, Ten Hag will need his experienced players to play well.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin is fit for the hosts and poses a major threat with his physicality particularly in a Sean Dyche side.
The white hot atmosphere will only further serve Dyche’s tactic of playing long to the striker with Harry Maguire expected to be tasked with dealing with that threat.
Ten Hag will want to control the ball and take the sting out of the game but will be aware of not inviting any unnecessary pressure, especially in the early stages.
If Rasmus Hojlund is passed fit, expect Andre Onana to be looking for the United forward in the opening exchanges with Marcus Rashford and Antony providing support.
United wingers have been accused of disinterest at times this season but will not be able to get away with that today if they want to impact the game.
Antony scored on his last visit to Goodison and a contribution today would be timely reminder of his value to the side having failed to register a goal or an assist so far.
It’s imperative United’s attackers stay switched on and use the ball wisely by making the right decisions when they are in possession high up the pitch.
Bruno Fernandes also has a decent record at Goodison and will no doubt play a key role should United end victorious.
Getting the Portuguese into threatening areas will, as ever, be the order of the day for United with Bruno’s eye for goal and ability to play the final ball one of the best in the division.
No doubt United will have to withstand pressure at times but if they can stand strong and score first, they could find themselves edging back toward the top of the table by the end of the afternoon.