Dec 4, 2013, 2:10 PM EDT
Is everyone set to watch David Moyes to face his former side for the first time? It happens this afternoon, with Everton traveling to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United (2:45 p.m. ET; watch live on NBCSN and online via NBC Sports Live Extra).
Moyes steered the ship at Everton for 11 years, and now he’s set to look at them from the outside, as a man who wants nothing more than to take them down a few notches. Literally, in fact: a win for Manchester United puts Moyes’ side back in front of Everton in the table, lifting them out of their current eighth-place berth.
But it won’t be easy for the hosts. Moyes may have made a sly comment about Everton’s ability to continue on “without a manager,” but Roberto Martinez is over his tricky start to the season, and his side have wracked up seven goals in their last two outings, including a 3-3 draw against rivals Liverpool.
Martinez has built on Moyes’ foundation but improved Everton’s attack, with his style most evident in the pressure exerted by the fullbacks. There will be no Leighton Baines today, but Bryan Oviedo was more than adequate against Stoke, notching a goal and an assist, while on the other side, Seamus Coleman knocked one in as well. Gerard Deulofeu was fantastic at the weekend, but drops to the bench this time, with Kevin Mirallas returning to the starting XI. And, of course, there’s the ever-present threat of Romelu Lukaku.
Yes, Martinez’s Everton isn’t something to sneer at. Moyes’ pride is on the line, and he’s hoping his squad, and his more conservative tactics, allow him to come away with bragging rights. It’ll be Wayne Rooney that United look to for the goals, with Robin van Persie still recovering from injury, and absent even from the bench. Somewhat surprisingly, Shinji Kagawa remains in the starting lineup, and Marouane Fellaini joins it, despite Moyes admitting that the Belgian hasn’t had an easy time of it with his new club.
Manchester United Starting XI: De Gea; Rafael, Vidic, Smalling, Evra; Valencia, Fellaini, Giggs, Kagawa, Welbeck; Rooney
Subs: Lindegaard, Evans, Cleverley, Nani, Young, Hernandez, Januzaj
Everton Starting XI: Howard, Oviedo, Distin, Jagielka, Coleman, McCarthy, Barry, Pienaar, Barkley, Mirallas, Lukaku
Subs: Robles, Heitinga, Jelavic, Deulofeu, Naismith, Osman, Stones
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