|1||Van der Sar|
The unpredictability of this season’s title race knows no bounds as a tired-looking United went down 3-1 to Everton – the Merseysiders’ second big scalp in ten days after defeating Chelsea at Goodison Park.
The Reds went in front after 16 minutes through Dimitar Berbatov, but Everton equalised three minutes later with a strike from Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, and that was the game's pivotal moment. United struggled to control possession and didn’t work Tim Howard enough. Substitute Dan Gosling struck midway through the second half and, as Sir Alex Ferguson’s men chased a late equaliser, another substitute Jack Rodwell hit a third.
United didn't look sturdy enough in defence, even though Nemanja Vidic was named in the squad, albeit only making the bench as he waits for his first appearance in 2010. The Serbian’s strength and no-nonsense defending was not called upon and with the Reds still shorn of Rio Ferdinand, serving the final instalment of a four-match ban, Sir Alex favoured Wes Brown and Jonny Evans at centre-half to deal with Louis Saha.
The Frenchman has scored 15 goals this season, including two against Chelsea when Everton sprung a surprise on Carlo Ancelotti’s men to win 2-1. David Moyes’ side have taken four points from the Blues this term. They started this game second in the form table. United top those standings and Everton’s solitary win in the last 29 league games with the Reds looked like an ominous statistic. The absence of key pair, Tim Cahill and Marouane Fellaini, due to injury wouldn’t have eased nerves either. But those figures provide no solace for United now.
The Reds went with a 4-4-2 formation, including Berbatov up front with Wayne Rooney. With Nani suspended and Ryan Giggs out due to a fractured arm, Antonio Valencia and Ji-sung Park manned the wings, with Darren Fletcher and Michael Carrick in central midfield. Gary Neville’s inclusion meant that