All the mediocrity; all the dullness; all the inconsistencies. We cannot erase what has been but we can certainly get excited when Manchester United face Everton for a chance to progress to the Final of the FA Cup.
For all of Van Gaal’s faults, he can be proud of the youthful talent that has been introduced into the first team this season.
For players like Rashford, Fosu-Mensah and Lingard, they would have been satisfied with 10 first team appearances. Now they stand 90 minutes away from a final at Wembley.
But this is now and Lukaku and co. will be hurting after a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of their Merseyside neighbors, Liverpool.
To make matters worse for the Evertonians, there is a lot of angst amongst the fans toward Everton manager Roberto Martinez who like his opponent this Saturday, has overseen Everton produce an underwhelming and inconsistent season.
We have seen United bounce back after heavy losses this season and given this is Everton’s last hope to salvage a poor season by their standards, do not expect Everton to go down without a fight. A team that possesses Lukaku, Barkley and Deulofeu is a team that needs to be respected, irrespective of how poor their form coming in may be.
But they are depleted, particularly in defence, and if United are starting to show signs of progressing forward and attacking with a purpose.
Although the performance was overall dour, it was pleasing to see United use one defensive midfielder in Schneiderlin while freeing Rooney to roam up the park and choose passes. If United turn up, they should win comfortably and book their place in the FA Cup final.
Now’s the time. Stand up, Reds! This is our moment. For 90 minutes, forget our struggles. We’re going to Wembley and we’re not leaving Wembley until we lift a trophy above our heads.
Predicting a 3-1 win. Expect Rooney to have a big one against his former team.
IT’S TIME! COME ON UNITED!
Your Aussie Correspondent,
Larry – The United Stand
Before the game started, many thought it would be a close encounter considering Manchester United’s record at Goodison Park in recent years. But it was not the case as United made sure that they put the result of their last game, against Arsenal, behind them with a comfortable 3-0 victory. Their first victory at Goodison Park since October 29, 2011.
Apart from two Manchester United goals the first half was fairly quiet. United looked comfortable but the game was very open with both teams seeing plenty of the ball.
The first of United’s goals came from Morgan Schneiderlin on 18 minutes. Chris Smalling, on the penalty spot following a corner, chested the ball down into the path of Schneiderlin toward the left side of the box. Schneiderlin then hit the ball first time with some power across a full stretch Tim Howard and into the bottom right corner.
The corner kick that led to the goal was won by an Ander Herrera shot from the edge of the area, which was tipped over the bar by Tim Howard.
Just four minutes later, Herrera popped up again to head home an early Marcos Rojo cross, for Manchester United’s second.
After the second goal Manchester United were beginning to see more possession, keeping control of the game. They probably should have gone three up after Wayne Rooney selflessly played the ball back across the box into Martial, who could only shoot at Tim Howard. Rooney had a great chance to shoot and probably should have, instead of playing in Martial.
Everton had one great chance to pull a goal back just before the break when Ross Barkley shot from a tight angle but was unable to beat David de Gea who punched the ball clear.
The second half begun with Everton putting some pressure on United with Lukaku proving to be a nuisance with his ability to hold the ball. But Phil Jones and Chris Smalling made sure that was all he did.
Lukaku did manage to get a shot off in the 54th minute, but David de Gea once again showcased his lightning-quick reactions by blocking the shot with his outstretched left foot.
Everton’s period of pressure came to an abrupt end on 61 minutes when Ander Herrera found Wayne Rooney with a perfectly weighted through ball. Rooney, one-on-one with Tim Howard, calmly struck the ball in at the near post with Howard going the other way. This was a much needed goal for Wayne.
Wayne Rooney had a chance to get his second 7 minutes later when his run from just past the half way line saw him only manage a tame shot which was easily saved by Tim Howard. However, there were claims that he was being pulled back.
Midway through the second half Everton looked as though they had switched off with several passes going wayward. But United were not able to capitalise on the mistakes.
On the 80th minute Everton were again close to scoring with a Barkley free kick going narrowly over the bar. This would surely have been only a consolation goal.
Throughout the game Chris Smalling proved to be a rock at the back once again with Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo also putting in good shifts. Ander Herrera also showed why he should get more game time with his goal, assist and fantastic off the ball play, creating space for others.
As it stands, Manchester United now sit second with Arsenal playing their game in-hand this evening away at Watford.
What did you think of the game? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
You can also watch the Everton V Manchester United match reaction on The United Stand’s YouTube channel by clicking here or watching below.
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Everton Team Sheet
Lennon (Deulofeu – 73′)
Naismith (Koné – 45′)
Manchester United Team Sheet
Schweinsteiger (Carrick – 74′)
Mata (Lingard – 45′)
Herrera (Fellaini – 81′)