Things we noticed against Everton
Manchester United consolidated our Premier League top-four place with a win over Everton in the Easter sunshine at Old Trafford.
Goals from Scott McTominay and Anthony Martial secured a comfortable victory over the relegation-threatened Toffees, as we took advantage of Saturday’s early kick-off to move above Newcastle United into third in the table.
Christian Eriksen made a welcome return to action but the only real downside was an apparent groin injury that forced off top scorer Marcus Rashford with just over 10 minutes left.
Here are the key talking points from a high-quality performance by Erik ten Hag’s men...
REDS HIT FORM
If Wednesday’s win over Brentford was a tight affair of few chances, this was anything but – certainly in the first half. United were full of attacking verve and created openings almost at will, with only a Jordan Pickford masterclass preventing us from cutting loose. The visiting goalkeeper kept out numerous efforts from Antony, who gave Ben Godfrey a torrid time, as well as Rashford and Marcel Sabitzer, before finally being beaten by McTominay’s opener. United had 21 shots in the first half, our most on record (since 2003-04) in the first half of a single Premier League game. Sean Dyche’s men improved after the break but rarely threatened David De Gea’s goal and Martial’s effort clinched the points on what was a satisfying afternoon for the Reds.
United’s in-form striker was a constant threat to the Everton defence and can count himself unfortunate not to have added to his goal tally on his 350th United appearance. He assisted Martial’s goal with a neat pass across goal but his afternoon came to an end shortly afterwards as he pulled up holding his groin area, and he left the field gingerly to be replaced by Wout Weghorst. Reds fans everywhere will have fingers crossed it’s not a serious injury as any absence would be a blow as we chase targets at home and in Europe.
Warm applause rippled around Old Trafford as Eriksen warmed up on the touchline towards the end of the first half. The Dane had played a part in all but one of our games until the end of January, before suffering an ankle injury in the Emirates FA Cup fourth-round tie against Reading. The creative midfielder finally made his long-awaited return with 15 minutes left, replacing Sancho for his 20th league appearance of the season. He saw a couple of shots blocked that would have capped his afternoon, but nevertheless we’re all delighted to see him back in action.
ANOTHER HOME CLEAN SHEET
Ten Hag made three changes in his defence, with Harry Maguire, Tyrell Malacia and Aaron Wan-Bissaka coming in to help United record yet another shut-out at Old Trafford. Maguire, starting his first Premier League game since 12 February, largely kept the physical Ellis Simms quiet, though the young Everton striker missed a glaring first-half chance, while Malacia and Wan-Bissaka were industrious and got forward to good effect. In shutting Everton out, De Gea joined Newcastle’s Nick Pope at the top of the Golden Glove table on 13 clean sheets this season. The Reds are now unbeaten in 23 home games since a September reversal to Real Sociedad, haven’t lost in the league since the opening day, and we’ve now already picked up more home wins than in any of the last five seasons.
MARTIAL BACK AMONG THE GOALS
The sight of Martial tucking away his first league goal since December was another boost. The Frenchman, a second-half replacement for Antony, has endured an injury-disrupted season but his goal threat and all-round attacking contribution could be important as we push for Champions League football next term.
McTOMINAY ON THE SCORESHEET
McTominay was in stunning goalscoring form in the recent international break, netting four goals in two games for Scotland, but this was the first time he’d found the net for us since the EFL Cup win over Aston Villa in November. He charged onto an excellent Sancho pass to blast emphatically past Pickford for his third goal of the season and first in the league, capping an energetic 90-minute display.LEAGUE DOUBLE OVER EVERTON
This was a third win of the season over Everton, who remain in trouble near the foot of the table. We came away from Goodison Park with a 2-1 league victory in October, before knocking them out of the FA Cup 3-1 in January. Saturday’s triumph ensured a first league double over the Toffees since 2017/18.