Man United’s Wayne Rooney
Manchester United will look to stretch their nine-point lead at the top of the Premier League when they entertain top-four chasing Everton at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Defending champions Manchester City have dropped points in their last three games to allow United to pull ahead in the race for the title ahead of this weekend’s action. Their 3-1 loss to Southampton Saturday means United have an opportunity to go 12 points clear with a win today.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s men are unbeaten in 13 in all competitions and have won four of their last five Premier League games to cement their spot in pole position.
The Red Devils triumphed 1-0 at Fulham last time out as Wayne Rooney popped up with a 79th-minute winner to bag the three points. Rooney will hope to continue his goalscoring form against the Toffees having netted five in his last four games, including the opener for England in their friendly against Brazil at Wembley in midweek.
Everton, meanwhile, remain firmly in the hunt for a UEFA Champions League spot after holding onto fifth place to keep the pressure on Chelsea and Tottenham. David Moyes’ men hosted Aston Villa in a dramatic encounter last time out as Marouane Fellaini’s brace pegged the strugglers to a 3-3 draw.
Their encounter at Old Trafford last season was another thriller as they came back to hold United 4-4 and deal a heavy blow to their title ambitions. The Toffees also travel to Lancashire knowing they have inflicted one of just three league defeats on the Red Devils this term - a 1-0 win at Goodison Park in their opening match of the campaign.
They will fancy their chances against a United side set to miss many of its first team players as they later fly out to Spain for a first-leg showdown with Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League on
“It will be different teams,” said Ferguson. “The team on Sunday (today) will not be the same as the team that plays on Wednesday.
“I trust the squad of players I have. They are all internationals, they are all good players and there is no reason why I can’t play them. They’re all contributing in their own way and that gives us a better chance of dealing with the various competitions we’re in.”
Ferguson has even suggested refusing to play would be the only way to get any action over the scheduling that offers Real Madrid an extra day’s rest ahead of their Champions League showdown.
For Ferguson it is yet another example of how the Premier League fails to look after the interests of English clubs when they are drafting fixtures. And he realises the situation is unlikely to change without drastic action. “How many times have I complained about it? You’ve heard my complaints. Do they listen?,” said Ferguson.
“What can you do? Not turn up? I would like to do that by the way. The Premier League agree the contract...but they are not giving our teams a chance to be successful in Europe. It is ridiculous to think we are playing on Sunday and Real Madrid have an extra day’s rest. Other countries make sacrifices for their top teams in Europe.”