The Debate: Looking ahead to Everton
Saturday’s big game between Everton and Manchester United at Goodison Park was a major topic on this week’s episode of the Debate.
Host Stewart Gardner sat down with former Reds David May and Ben Thornley, plus Goal journalist Charlotte Duncker, to discuss a range of subjects, including the Reds’ next Premier League outing.
All of our panellists agreed that United simply have to take all three points to keep our Champions League qualification hopes alive, in a match they acknowledge is even more huge when the Toffees’ struggles this season and place in the table are taken into account.
Frank Lampard takes his side to Burnley on Wednesday night in a relegation six-pointer and Thornley believes the quick turnaround for Everton might end up benefiting United at the weekend – especially as they could be missing up to 10 players, including injured Reds loanee Donny van de Beek, who is ineligible for the weekend anyway.
“They have to make it an advantage,” said Ben of his former side. “They’ve got a full week now on the training field and they haven’t got any distractions, they’ve got no games.
“Everton have got to go and play another game, which will be a bit of a slugfest at Turf Moor, and without players that would normally be in their ranks, either through suspension or injury.
“It’s going to be a tough week for Everton and we’ve got to finish it off for them.”
May was optimistic ahead of our visit to a ground we won twice at during 2020/21: with a 2-0 Carabao Cup quarter-final victory following on from a 3-1 success in the league.
However, the former defender did caution that sides battling against relegation can be tricky prospects especially towards the end of the season.
“You’ve got to be confident,” he added. “You’d imagine Ronny [Cristiano Ronaldo] will be back, who is obviously our main goal threat.
“I’d imagine that United would win, but as I say, when you’re playing against teams that are fighting for their lives… if they get a result against Burnley, then they’ll get a little bit of a gee-up, but, if they lose there, then they are in the mire.
“Listen: it’s all about what we do, whatever time the game kicks off. When you cross that white line and you wear that badge for Manchester United, you wear it with pride and you put on a show.”
Duncker feels Everton will be safe despite their poor form, with the Toffees having taken just 11 points from their last 21 games.
But she highlighted the importance of United making the most of games against Everton and then Norwich – who visit Old Trafford on 16 April – ahead of a more difficult-looking week when we have to travel to Liverpool and Arsenal.
“Personally, I don’t think they’ll go down, I think the teams below them currently will be the ones that get relegated,” she said.
“I think they will survive and stay up but that’s going to be a massive summer for them as well. They can’t have another season like they’ve had now, can they?
“But for United now, they’ve got Everton and they’ve got Norwich at home, haven’t they? Before the week of Liverpool and Arsenal, so if there’s any hope of anything to do with Champions League or even Europa League, they need to get six points from those two games before they go into that week.”