Preview: Man United vs Everton

Manchester United look to retain top spot with win against Everton
 
Manchester United welcome Everton to Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon as they look to retain the top spot in the Premier League table.
 
Jose Mourinho took one full season, but he’s finally concocted a team capable of lifting the English top-flight title. Signing Nemanja Matic and Romelu Lukaku and retaining Zlatan Ibrahimovic, he has shown that he means business. Their sitting atop the table bears testimony to their strength.
 
The Red Devils will look to avoid a draw or loss, with the chasing pack – Manchester City and Chelsea – locking horns with Watford and Arsenal, respectively. After drawing their game 2-2 with Stoke City last week, they’ll need their backline to look sharp, as United’s scoring goals is a given.
 
The United manager will be without the services of Paul Pogba, with the influential Frenchman leaving Old Trafford in crutches on Tuesday night. Replacing him will be former Everton man Marouane Fellaini, while Luke Shaw and Marcus Rojo are still on the injury table.
 
Everton, on the back of the big-money signings – Gylfi Sigurdsson (£40 million), Michael Keane (£25 million) and Jordan Pickford (£25 million) – they made over the summer, ought to be in the top half of the table at the very least. They, however, sit just two places off the relegation zone, with a solitary win in four league outings, a 1-0 win against the Potters on opening day.
 
The Toffees have registered just seven shots on target in 360 minutes, with their last two games seeing a solitary one.  They’ve also struggled to put those few shots on target into the net, as they have scored just two goals so far, with Wayne Rooney claiming them both.
 
The former United striker, however, hasn’t been producing the performances expected of him, as he seems unable to tantalize the defences as he used to do during his heyday. Only Dominic Calvert-Lewin seems a lively attacker; Barcelona academy graduate Sandro Ramirez has yet to hit the ground running.
 
Level of performance isn’t Everton’s only concern, as they haven’t been able to field a full-strength squad since the start of the season. James McCarthy, Yannick Bolasie, Seamus Coleman, Ramiro Funes Mori and Ross Barkley, who haven’t featured this season, continue to be on the sidelines.
 
With three-man defences proving the normalcy over the past couple of seasons in England, United seem to be producing results with four men at the back. They’re the best team statistically, as Romelu Lukaku and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are the best goal-scorers and creators in the division, respectively. Whether their Portuguese manager adopts a tried-and-tested 4-2-3-1 or the 4-3-3 that faltered against the Potters remains to be seen, though.
 
Everton, on the other hand, seem to be employing the wrong strategy, with their three-man backline without natural fullbacks making them toothless in the attacking third. The Everton faithful believe they ought to revert to a more traditional four-man backline, but it remains to be seem if their Dutch manager chooses to introduce a new formation against league leaders.