Everton v Man Utd – Wembley Stadium at 17:15 live on BBC One
It’s FA Cup semi finals weekend with the first being played on Saturday evening as Everton and Man Utd lock horns in what promises to be an entertaining match.
It’s been a disappointing season for the Toffee’s, as they head towards their second bottom half Premier League finish in two years, the last time that happened was 14 years ago. Roberto Martinez promised Champions League football in his interview for the managers job and has quite simply failed.
Sitting 11th in the league, they have massively underachieved this year as the should be at least pushing for a Europa League place, if not the UCL with the squad they have.
Their season was summed up by the midweek humiliation in the Merseyside derby, hammered by city rivals Liverpool 4-0. It was an awful performance and one they were lucky not to lose by more. Everton’s poor defending was once again very apparent, and has been a big weakness of theirs throughout the season. Conceding 48 times in the BPL so far, only the bottom 4 and Bournemouth have leaked more goals.
Matters weren’t helped in their defeat to Liverpool with centre backs Ramiro Fuenes Mori seeing red and John Stones coming off injured. With Seamus Coleman and Phil Jagielka both sidelined with injury, Martinez is going to struggle with selection on Saturday, however Stones is expected to start.
With their defensive troubles, I expect Everton to play very deep to try and contain the Utd front 5, and try and hit them on the counter, with the much improved Aaron Lennon and Ross Barkley’s pace. Romelu Lukaku also remains a threat but is without a goal in 6 league matches, and the Toffee’s have just managed 2 goals in that period.
It’s been a difficult season for Man Utd also, with many fans and pundits frustrated with their style and performances. Louis Van Gaal looks like he’ll be gone in the Summer, but is still in contention to make the top 4 and lift a domestic trophy, 2 things that the Board and fans surely would have taken at the beginning of the campaign.
As we get to the business end of the season, a run of 6 wins from 8 league games see’s them in 5th place, just 2 points off rivals City in 4th. They have won their last 5 matches to nil and should provide a misfiring Everton attack with a stern test this weekend.
United’s problem this season has been in attack, with only Stoke scoring less league goals from teams in the top half than the Red Devils’ 42 in 34 games. However, despite not banging in the goals recently, with an average of just 1.2 per game in their last 11, they have only failed to score twice in that period against Spurs, the BPL’s best defensive and a very tight West Brom rear-guard.
I’m expecting LVG to stick with his 4-1-4-1 formation for the semi final, with Rashford up top, supported by Martial, Mata, Rooney and Lidgard. This front 5 will no doubt cause Everton’s shaky defence some real problems and I can see them putting a couple past them, despite Everton not yet conceding in this years FA Cup.
The Toffeemen have won 6 of their last 7 FA Cup semi finals, but were knocked out by Liverpool in their last one in 2012. United have lost their last 2 semis in this competition, to Everton in 2009 and Man City in 2011, but have not lost 3 in a row since 1970.
Man Utd are rightfully favourties here having defeated an in-form West Ham in the last round and their superior league form. The 2.05 available for them to progress to the final in 90 minutes offers great value and is my recommendation for this one.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Man Utd -0.5 at 2.05
Prices correct at time of writing.
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