Head-To-Head: Man United
Our experts analyse Wednesday's key battles.
Everton head to Manchester United on Wednesday looking to extend their unbeaten run to seven games.
United, themselves 12 matches without defeat, will be focused on leapfrogging the Toffees and moving one point above us in the Barclays Premier League table.
Ahead of the clash, we asked Blues legend Graeme Sharp and Stuart Mathieson of the Manchester Evening News to assess the key battles that could determine the all-important outcome...
DOWN THE WING
Sharpy says: “Seamus has been outstanding this season. We knew he had a bit to learn when he first came into the side; everybody talked about how good he was going forward but he has concentrated on his defensive work and he’s been outstanding this season. He has capped his good start off with two goals, which just shows you the energy levels he’s got.”
Mathieson says: “Ryan Giggs is, for want of a better phrase, and I don’t mean this disrespectfully, but he’s a freak of nature. He’s incredible. You see pictures and clips of him when he was 17 and you see there’s hardly an extra ounce on his body now. If he’d have stayed as a whippet-like winger for his whole career, he probably wouldn’t have lasted. But he realised that and changed his game.”
Sharpy says: “Ross has been fantastic for us this season - he’s full of confidence. He’s a young player who will make mistakes, but as long as he learns from them he’ll have a massive future ahead of him - not just for Everton but for England too. He’ll have been disappointed to miss the Stoke game, so he’ll really be looking forward to putting himself up against Manchester United at Old Trafford.”
Mathieson says: “Januzaj has been a sensation this season. He started well on his debut and he’s been getting goals and winning games. At a time when United were struggling, you’ve got a teenager coming to the forefront, which shows the confident character of the lad. He’s not really had any bad matches so far this season; in the majority of games he’s been involved in, you can see quality stamped all over him”.
Sharpy says: “There are no worries whatsoever with Tim, he’s in great form at the moment. His record with the back four is good and he’s looking confident, making good saves - the penalty save against Villa for example. You’d imagine going to Old Trafford, he’s going to be busy. But he’s played well so far this season and will be up for the challenge”.
Mathieson says: “De Gea has had a mixed start to his United career. After having Edwin van der Sar for a number of years and Peter Schmeichel prior to that, I think there was a concern amongst United fans that a 20-year-old had been brought in to replace that quality. Understandably, he made some mistakes. But in the last 12 months he’s certainly grown into the job. There are absolutely no questions about his ability now, he handles everything the Premier League throws at him."