Old Trafford play host to the Toffees.
Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson has promised there will be no more shocks against Everton when David Moyes’ team head to Old Trafford on Sunday.
Moyes’ men fought back from two goals down with eight minutes remaining to snatch a 4-4 draw at United that swung the Premier League title race towards Manchester City in April last season.
They also beat United 1-0 at the start of this season at Goodison Park but, while Ferguson knows his players have every reason to be wary of Everton, he maintains the lessons of last season have been learnt.
“It was anticipating the unexpected and we didn’t do that (in the 1-0 defeat) against Everton,” Ferguson said.
“But we were 4-2 up with eight minutes to go last season and that definitely cost us the league, no question. It won’t happen again. We hope we’re 4-2 with a few minutes to go this time.”
Ferguson once attempted to recruit Moyes as his assistant manager and is full of praise for the work his fellow Scot has done in more than a decade on Merseyside.
Moyes’ current deal expires at the end of this season and Ferguson believes his departure would have a significant impact on a club that has grown used to challenging for a place in the top four.
“I’ve read that his contract is up and that’s obviously a concern for Everton,” Ferguson said.
“It would be a blow to them because good quality managers with consistency and perseverance would be a big, big loss.
“They are a difficult opponent. You see the record this year, they’ve lost three and drawn 12 so they’re hard to beat and that’s David style.
“It’s gradual progress because when he first took over there was no money to spend and the squad wasn’t near to what he’s got now.
“But given time you can do these things and that’s the great value they get from David because each year they progress to a good level.”
Ferguson is hopeful that defender Phil Jones can overcome shingles in order to feature in the game at Old Trafford.
England winger Ashley Young should also be available after a knee injury and Michael Carrick will return from a thigh problem, although Ferguson may make changes ahead of the Champions League clash with Real Madrid on Wednesday.
Shinji Kagawa and Robin van Persie both made their debuts at Goodison Park in August and Japan international Kagawa believes the Dutchman can prove pivotal in the title race.
“He’s a player who can do a crucial job to win in almost every game. He is a top player, obviously.” Kagawa said.
“It’s a wonderful experience for me to be able to play with him. For the team, it’s always encouraging to have players like Van Persie and (Wayne) Rooney when you’re attacking.”
Moyes believes that Everton’s suprise win on the opening weekend of the season provided the catalyst for his team’s impressive challenge for a European place.
“I don’t sit back thinking the 4-4 was a great game — it got us a point, that’s all,” Moyes said.
“But we finished last season with a bit of momentum, and the 1-0 win at the start of this one probably set us up. That game gave us a boost again.”
Everton are vying with Tottenham, currently in fourth place three points ahead of Moyes’s team, for the coveted final Champions League berth, with Arsenal a point behind in sixth place.
“We’re having a great season, yet Manchester United are 20 points ahead of us. I was shaking my head in disbelief,” Moyes said.
“It says a lot about the level you have to reach if you’re going to have any chance of competing for the title.”
Venue Old Trafford, Sunday 4pm
Last season Man Utd 4 Everton 4
Referee Mark Halsey
This season’s matches 12 Y28, R2, 2.50 cards per game
Subs from Lindegaard, Amos, Smalling, Vidic, Jones, Buttner, Giggs, Anderson, Scholes, Kagawa, Young, Hernández, Van Persie
Injured Fletcher (bowel condition, unknown)
Form guide WWDWWW
Disciplinary record Y43 R0
Leading scorer Van Persie 18
Subs from Mucha, Heitinga, Stones, Oviedo, Francisco, Duffy, Hitzlsperger, Naismith, McAleny, Vellios, Jelavic
Injured Hibbert (calf, 16 Feb), Coleman (thigh, 16 Feb)
Form guide DWDDWL
Disciplinary record Y38 R2
Leading scorer Fellaini 10
The Toffees drew 4-4 at Old Trafford last season when they scored twice in the last five minutes of the game to rescue a point. Everton became just the third visiting side during the Premier League era to score four times that day and the third to avoid defeat having trailed United by two goals.
Everton’s last victory at Old Trafford came in the first Premier League encounter between the two sides in August 1992. The Toffees ran out 3-0 winners courtesy of goals from Peter Beardsley, Mo Johnston and Robert Warzycha.
Everton are seeking a first league double over Manchester United since the 1969-70 season.
Manchester United have won 15 of their 20 Premier League home games against Everton, with four matches drawn.
Manchester United’s 62 points from their opening 25 games is a top-flight club record. Their previous best was 60 points achieved six seasons ago.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s side are on a 13-match unbeaten streak (35 points from a possible 39). It’s their best run of form since a 29-game unbeaten run between April 2010 and February 2011.
United have scored at least two goals in all but one of their 12 home matches this season – the exception being November’s 1-0 win over West Ham.
Robin van Persie has 18 league goals this season. He is two away from becoming the sixth different player to score 20 Premier League goals in a single season for United after van Nistelrooy (four times), Rooney (two times), Ronaldo,
Berbatov and Yorke.
Wayne Rooney has scored 10 league goals for the ninth successive Premier League season.
They have drawn three of their last four Premier League games. In total, the Toffees have been involved in 12 draws this season, a league-high along with Stoke.
David Moyes’s side have picked up 21 points from losing positions this season – only Manchester United (27) have fared better.
All six of Everton’s most recent league wins have been by a 2-1 scoreline.
The Toffees have lost just three times this season, equal with Manchester United, but one more than Manchester City (two).
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