Each week, ‘In On Goal’ co-hosts Colin Murray and Dion Dublin give your their expert reaction and analysis from the weekend’s Premier League football. Don’t forget to tune into ‘In On Goal’ every Friday for your weekly football fix with previews and predictions of the weekend’s Premier League action.
Wayne Rooney quite rightly received a standing ovation from the 75,000 inside Old Trafford yesterday, as Manchester United’s greatest ever goal scorer returned for the first time since his free transfer back to Everton in the summer.
With 253 goals and 13 years service on his Manchester United honours sheet, his warm welcome was fully deserved and fully expected, but will have provided only momentary cheer on an otherwise frustrating afternoon for Rooney.
Looking at the polar opposite recent form of both sides, many would have predicted that Everton would be on the wrong end of a thumping yesterday, but even Jose Mourinho admitted that the scoreline flattered his side and 4-0 was “too much”.
Until the 83rd minute and Mkhitaryan’s goal that killed the game off, Everton were still very much in it, and looked the more likely to score. They dominated possession in the second half and pressed hard for an equaliser to cancel out Antonio Valencia’s wonderstrike in the 4th minute.
On the balance of play for 80 minutes of this contest, Everton could have come away with a point from this game, but it didn’t come and once Ashley Williams’ mistake gifted United possession late on, the combination of Lukaku and Mkhitaryan doubled United’s lead and Everton simply collapsed.
Further goals from Lukaku himself and an injury time penalty from Martial created a rather distorted scoreline of 4-0, but whichever way you look at it, Koeman needs to do something and fast, if he’s to halt Everton’s worrying slide into the bottom three.
Granted, at this stage of the season being in the bottom three needn’t be cause for outright panic, when only 6 points separate Everton in 18th from Chelsea in 3rd, but the manner in which Everton are conceding goals must be a worry for Ronald Koeman.
It affects confidence, which was clearly low after Valencia’s strike rocketed past a helpless Jordan Pickford after 4 minutes. Hardly the start they needed, after two heavy defeats in the last week, but Everton did steadily grow in stature as the game went on, passing the ball well in the second half and taking the game to United, and it took good saves from De Gea, to keep out Rooney, Sigurdsson and Sandro.
Having endured the hardest start, fixtures wise, of all 20 Premier League clubs, with Manchester City, Chelsea, Spurs and Manchester United making up 4 of their first 5 opponents, Koeman desperately needs to put a run together, to get some points on the table and instil some confidence in his players.
They face Bournemouth and Burnley at home between now and the next international break which are surely must win games, so we’ll see whether the Dutchman can salvage some of the confidence and belief that they showed in the second half at Old Trafford, before they crumbled and shipped another three goals at the back.
Elsewhere, with the exception of Manchester City’s 6-0 demolition of Watford, there were very few goals to be had this weekend with 5 of the 10 premier league fixtures ending in stalemate. Following Frank De Boer’s dismissal from Selhurst Park this time last week, Crystal Palace are still without a point or even a goal from their first 5 games, which sets a new Premier League record for all the wrong reasons. The Eagles fans will be hoping that Roy Hodgson can turn things around and get the most from their squad of players, something his predecessor was unable to do (albeit he was granted only 450 minutes of competitive football in which to do so), before being shown the door by Chairman Steve Parish!
So, both sides of Manchester continue to lead the Premier League with only the alphabet separating City in top spot from United in second. Five games played, 16 goals for and only two against for both sides, their identical stats send a worrying message to the chasing pack, and the first Manchester derby at Old Trafford in December is already a fascinating contest, if their respective early form continues.
Don’t forget to tune into ‘In On Goal’ every Friday for your weekly football fix with previews and predictions of the weekend’s Premier League action.