Manchester United vs Everton: 6 Things We Learned
Roberto Martinez's Everton travel to Old Trafford in a midweek Premier League clash
A solitary late strike from Bryan Oviedo was enough to snap Manchester United’s 12-game unbeaten streak, as Everton recorded their first Premier League win at Old Trafford since August 1991.
The defeat spells disaster for the Red Devils on a day where Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester City reigned victorious in their respective battles.
Here are 6 things we learned from Everton’s stunning victory over Manchester United:
United were comprehensively outplayed for 90 minutes
Truth be told, Manchester United were underwhelming for prolonged periods of time. The statistics may point towards a match dictated by the Red Devils, however this was simply not the case.
Everton stormed into Old Trafford hell bent on taking the game to their former manager, capitalising on the key absences of Robin van Persie and Michael Carrick.
From the word go, the defending Premier League champions struggled to cope with the sprightly harrying and pressing instilled at Goodison Park by Roberto Martinez.
The Blues allowed the home side very little time on the ball, which more often than not resulted in a inert United voyage forwards and multiple turnovers.
As Aristotle put so articulately, a whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The likes of Wayne Rooney and Shinji Kagawa fell victim to the collective power of Everton as a team.
Lukaku was a handful
Don’t be fooled, whilst Romelu Lukaku failed to record a goal against the club he terrorised in a West Bromwich Albion shirt, the Belgian hitman played an instrumental role in the downing of Manchester United.
The gallant Nemanja Vidic failed to compete with the Chelsea loanee on a physical level, who at times flung the home captain to the side as if he hadn’t challenged at all.
It speaks volumes of Lukaku’s presence on the field that no less than six players all tried to stop Lukaku when he picked up the ball in the box in the 82nd minute, a pass that Bryan Oviedo collected completely unmarked on the left wing. Lukaku spotted the run of his Costa Rican teammate with an astute pass that directly resulted in a subsequent goal.
The rest of the game saw the ex-Anderlecht man coerce the Manchester United defence with threatening runs and displays of other-worldly strength.
It’s the little things like that which make Lukaku such a fearsome prospect to any team in the world, and sparks queries as to why Chelsea keep on loaning him out.
Anderson was needed in midfield
The midfield partnership of Marouane Fellaini and Ryan Giggs on the pre-game team sheet was never going to spark an abundance of confidence in fans, and the outcome of the game did little to disprove the notion.
Ross Barkley was to Everton what Anderson could have been for Manchester United – a combative, assiduous midfielder capable of winning possession deep in the field and dribbling the ball up the field. The unpredictability of Barkley’s runs proved to be too much for the hapless United structure to cope with.
Fellaini did not fare too badly, breaking up dangerous attacking play from Barkley himself and recycling possession at the base of the midfield. Giggs, however, sat deep in midfield in a playmaking role.
The result was that there was no player to link defensive midfield and attacking midfield a la Ross Barkley. Did David Moyes purchase the wrong Everton midfielder?
While question marks swirl over Anderson’s ability to retain possession, the Brazilian indubitably possesses the inherent ambition and drive to dribble to ball forward, imposing himself as a menace upon the opposing central midfielders (James McCarthy and Gareth Barry).
Danny Welbeck is frustratingly flawed
As is the customary cause of action, it must be pointed out that Welbeck was perhaps the most disappointing player on the pitch, needlessly handing over possession in lapses of concentration.
However, it has come to the case where Welbeck has become a liability to the club. Allowing the United academy graduate to step foot on the pitch has become a gamble, and gambling with fate is the last thing Manchester United needs in attempts to resurrect their season.
In 81 long minutes on the pitch, Welbeck hit a measly 22 successful passes from an attacking midfield role. No one on the pitch turned the ball over more times than Welbeck, totalling twice the number of costly turnovers as Everton’s highest offender James McCarthy.
Furthermore, while he was initially positioned on the left wing, he tended to drift into the middle of the park, forcing Kagawa to switch onto the left wing. Through this blatant transgression of team structure, Welbeck not only managed to deprive Kagawa of his best position, but also deprived the club of Kagawa’s best assets in a trequartista role.
His day in the office can perhaps be summarised by his appalling miss directly in front of an open goal, as he failed to redirect Evra’s rebounded header into a Howard-less goal unchallenged.
Wasn’t Danny Welbeck a striker?
Everton were lucky not to concede
The Merseyside outfit deserve all the plaudits coming their way as they successfully prevented the reigning Premier League champions from scoring in a home league game, a rare feat.
Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that some degree of luck fell Everton’s way. The goalposts’ allegiances fell against the home side as Wayne Rooney was denied a goal by virtue of the goalpost, while Welbeck was denied a goal by virtue of his incompetence.
Manchester United displayed glimpses of its undoubted world-class ability in very brief periods of time, however critics will point to the fact that the club is perilously close to having to rely on moments of individual brilliance from Rooney and co. to grind out results.
Regardless, fortune favors the bold, and Everton were completely deserving of three points at Old Trafford.
Bryan Oviedo has done his first-team chances no harm
With the plethora of game-changing stars at Everton including Lukaku, Kevin Mirallas and Steven Pienaar, little expected Leighton Baines’ deputy to turn out the match-winning performance we witnessed today.
Bryan Oviedo took complete control of Everton’s left flank, showing astute defensive positioning and excellent attacking sense. An 82nd minute game-winner only served to confirm his man of the match status, as he latched onto a Romelu Lukaku pass to slot the ball through the legs of the hapless De Gea.
Baines’ return to action remains approximately one month away, with his recovery from an ankle/foot injury scheduled for the dawn of 2014.
However, further impressive performances from the Costa Rica left-back will hand Roberto Martinez an enviable selection headache, with England’s premier left back facing a battle for a starting berth upon return.
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