Everton vs Manchester United: Five things we learned from the Toffees' thumping home win

Everton 4-0 Manchester United: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men were outplayed from start to finish as the hosts continued their impressive form at home

Alan O'Brien
Sunday 21 April 2019 15:13
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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admits Manchester United have work to be done after Barcelona defeat

Fortress Goodison?

Everton’s form has been up and down all season but their recent performances at home have given fans something to smile about. Indeed, the Toffees have beaten both Arsenal and Chelsea at Goodison Park this month and held on for a draw against Liverpool at the start of March. Today’s display was the best of the lot, though, as Marco Silva’s men put in an energised and clinical outing to pull apart their opponents.

From the very first whistle there was purpose and intent to Everton’s passing – across the entirety of the pitch – with United’s players reduced to chasing their shadows in the glorious Merseyside sunshine. In defence, the Toffees were authoritative, affording little space and time to Lukaku, Rashford and Martial, while the intensity of the hosts’ frontline caused no end of trouble for United.

Throw into the mix some magic from the likes of Richarlison and Lucas Digne, and this was Everton at the best.

Defensive shortcomings reaffirm need for Old Trafford overhaul

This was United’s ninth game without a clean sheet as the team’s defence once again found itself coming undone. Both Smalling and Jones looked out of their depth against Everton’s frontline, which deployed a high-press, high-energy approach to unsettle the United defenders. It proved to be immensely rewarding, with the hosts two goals ahead after 28 minutes.

Theo Walcott’s goal highlighted the lack of organisation and composure at the back while Sigurdsson’s strike suggested that David de Gea might not be the goalkeeper he once was. Indeed, it’s been a difficult season as a whole for the Spaniard whose performances have been blighted by numerous mistakes – as seen today.

If United are to stand any chance of competing with their top-six rivals next season, a huge overhaul is needed in the summer.

Lukaku fires blanks

After being dropped for the trip to Barcelona, the Belgian forward made his return to United’s starting XI today. And against his former club, this was his opportunity to prove himself ahead of a difficult week for the club.

But having struggled to find the back of the next in his last five games, Lukaku once again failed to deliver for the visitors. Up against Kurt Zouma, Lukaku’s physicality counted for little as he repeatedly found himself coming off second best against the Everton defender.

The Belgian failed to make a difference for his side

United sought to deploy him as the side’s target man but even on this front Lukaku fell short of his duties, with his touch – and a lack of service, to his credit – repeatedly letting him down. With no goals to his name since the start of March, Lukaku’s recent form is serious cause for concern.

Sigurdsson shines for the Toffees

Gylfi Sigurdsson's first season at Everton wasn't without its issues but, now into his second year at the club, today's performance pointed to how far he's come since.

From the off there was a spring to the midfielder's step as he set about darting around the periphery of United's backline, using his intelligence and composure on the ball to create chances for his teammates. One notable flick over the head of Fred - which drew a free-kick for the hosts - neatly highlighted the gulf in quality between United and Everton's midfield players, with Sigurdssonn notably leading the way.

Gylfi Sigurdsson celebrates after scoring Everton's second against Manchester United

His goal – his 13th of the season – was another reminder of the danger he poses outside the box, with his dipping, low-driven shot fizzing past the outstretched De Gea. The Spaniard will feel he should have done better but it was nonetheless testament to Sigurdsson's willingness to seize an opportunity when it arises. It was with this approach in mind that the 29-year-old put in a man-of-the-match performance against United.

Lack of leadership undermines United’s cause

From the first opening five minutes – as Everton set about forcing their visitors on the back front – it became clear that United were lacking the required leadership to dominate this encounter. From the side’s disjointed defence to the meek midfield, there was a distinct absence of enthusiasm and fight.

Paul Pogba – whose future at Old Trafford remains an uncertainty – lacked his usual swagger as he reverted to type with those long, hopeful balls over the top. Elsewhere, Smalling and Jones, who was forced off through injury, struggled to assert themselves against the intensity of Everton’s press while even Marcus Rashford – usually one of United’s brighter sparks – looked tired and devoid of ideas in the final third.

United may have showed more bite in the second half but this was a largely lifeless display from the visitors.

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