Three reasons Man Utd need to pull out the stops to beat PL rivals to £26m-rated left-back

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is on the hunt for a new left-back and he needs to do everything he can to ensure the Red Devils beat Premier League rivals Manchester City and Chelsea to the signing of AS Monaco left-back Benjamin Mendy this summer.

The 22-year-old Frenchman has starred for Monaco as they chase a first Ligue 1 title in 17 years this season. He joined the club in a £13 million deal from Marseille last summer but is expected to be on the move again this summer, with an offer of around £26 million expected to be enough to force Monaco’s hand.

Mourinho’s critical comments about Luke Shaw in recent weeks suggest he may not see a long-term future at Old Trafford for the youngster. Daley Blind, Marcos Rojo and Matteo Darmian are also options at the position but none of them are natural left-backs and struggle to get up and down as much as Antonio Valencia on the opposite wing.

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Mendy would give Manchester United a fresh look and another attacking outlet down the left side. He has proven his quality in Ligue 1 and in the Champions League this season so here are three reasons United need to do all they can to sign him in the coming months…

1. Attacking threat from left-back

Mendy would offer United something they don’t currently have – a consistent attacking outlet down the left side. Luke Shaw is an attacking full-back but is clearly not one of Mourinho’s favourites, while Matteo Darmian struggles to offer regular support in the attacking third.

Mendy has eight league and Champions League assists this season – more than any other defender in Europe, including Real Madrid’s Marcelo and Bayern’s David Alaba who are both rated as two of the world’s best in the position.

Antonio Valencia gives United a regular threat from right-back but they become quite one-sided due to the lack of similar support on the left, so the addition of Mendy would add balance as well as some much-needed creativity from deep.

2016/17 League Stats
Games
Assists
Chances
Created Per 90 Mins
Pass
Completion (%)
Tackles
Won Per 90 Mins
Benjamin
Mendy
21
5
1.05
76%
1.9
Luke
Shaw
10
1
1.32
85%
0.92
Matteo
Darmian
12
0
0.21
81%
2.00

Table: Benjamin Mendy’s league statistics compared to Luke Shaw and Matteo Darmian this season (stats via: Squawka).

2. Play style perfectly suits the Premier League

The table above shows how Mendy compares to Shaw and Darmian – the two most natural left-backs United have at their disposal at the moment. His stats suggest he is a well-rounded full-back, who is as adept at winning the ball back as he is creating chances. His pass completion could be better but 66% of his passes go forward, further highlighting his direct approach.

Premier League full-backs that can get forward quickly but also defend well in 1v1 situations tend to standout and Mendy fits that billing perfectly. A move to Old Trafford could see him establish himself as one of the club’s best left-sided defenders, as his approach to the game isn’t too dissimilar to that of Patrice Evra’s when he joined the Red Devils in 2006.

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3. Bright future ahead

Mendy is still only 22. That’s easy to forget considering he made his professional debut almost six years ago. But he has established himself as one of Europe’s best full-backs this season as Monaco continue to impress domestically and in the Champions League.

Mendy made his France debut last month, getting an assist in the 3-1 win over Luxembourg and a long and successful career is expected for club and country, no matter where he is plying his trade.

Luke Shaw is a year younger than Mendy but with his future unclear, the Frenchman would be an ideal replacement this summer and would potentially give Manchester United a reliable and improving left-back for many years to come.

Should Man United do everything in their power to sign Benjamin Mendy this summer?

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Three reasons Man Utd suffered most in the PL this weekend

Saturday saw Manchester United held to their third 0-0 draw at home in the Premier League this season, as West Brom became the eighth team to leave Old Trafford with a point to further damage the Red Devils’ top four hopes.

Jose Mourinho’s side have only managed to win 40% of their home games in the top flight this season and wins for Spurs and Liverpool on Saturday mean that the challenge of securing a top four spot just got a whole lot tougher.

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Yes, Chelsea lost at home to Crystal Palace. That was a shock result and one that many will say was worse – on paper at least – than United’s home draw with the Baggies. But the difference is that the Blues had a 10-point cushion at the top of the table. They can afford to drop a few points and still lift the title. United can’t if they want to beat rivals to a Champions League spot.

Here are three reasons Manchester United were this weekend’s biggest losers:

1. Widening gap to top four

The biggest problem for United this weekend is that the gap to the top four widened by a point, following Liverpool’s Merseyside Derby win over Everton earlier in the day. Mourinho’s side were four points off Liverpool with two games in hand heading into the weekend, but not sit 5 points off Manchester City in 4th, who have only played one game more than United.

2. Easiest fixture of the month?

Man Utd will have played a staggering nine times before the end of April, with an average of a game every three days in the Premier League and Europa League leaving Mourinho with the most frantic period of his season. He will have to rotate his squad more than ever over the next four weeks but he’d had the entire international break to plan a victory over West Brom. He couldn’t do that and will now only have a couple of days to spend on preparations for each upcoming game in April.

3. Short rest time

As mentioned above, United’s hectic schedule means Mourinho will need to manage his players extremely well if they’re to emerge out of this month in good shape. Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be available again for Tuesday’s home clash with Everton after serving his suspension but the 0-0 draw to the Baggies on Saturday meant the United boss had to leave his best players on the pitch for 90 minutes. Henrikh Mkhitaryan was the only played substituted but still had to get through 75 minutes first. The fact that Mourinho was unable to bring players off to save them for Tuesday might cost them when Everton come to town tomorrow evening.

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Yaya Toure’s agent reveals MLS not an option but hints at United switch

Yaya Toure’s Manchester City career looks set to come to an end this summer but he might not be leaving the city, with his agent Dimitri Seluk suggesting a move to rivals Manchester United could happen.

Toure is believed to be keen on extending his contract at the Etihad but with his current deal set to expire in three months and no sign of a new offer from City, Seluk has started the process of finding the Ivorian midfielder a new club.

At 33, Toure still has at least a couple more seasons in the tank but he looks set to remain in Europe with his agent dismissing offers from China and MLS as he looks to find the two-time Premier League winner a new home.

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“Some clubs have contacted me,” Seluk said. “Now we have three options. I don’t speak about Yaya and China or the MLS. He will play in Europe. I have spoken with clubs in different countries; Italy and Spain.

“We waited until March 15 for what Manchester City will say but until now Manchester City don’t say anything. Before March, we didn’t negotiate with anybody because Yaya does a lot with Manchester City, so we waited. But we cannot wait until the last minute.”

Toure could well stay in the Premier League, with Seluk suggesting a shock move to City’s arch rivals United could still go ahead, while praising Jose Mourinho as a great coach.

“Why not?” Seluk said when asked about a possible move to Old Trafford. “Jose Mourinho is a very good coach. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was together with Yaya in Barcelona.

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“I understand this is two clubs who are rivals but for me, this is not a problem from Yaya or from me, this problem will be from Manchester City staff.”

Toure was frozen out of Pep Guardiola’s plans at the start of the season because of comments made by Seluk and his latest outburst will have done little to help an already fragile season.

The former Barcelona midfielder has gone on to play 21 games for the Citizens this season, scoring six goals, but was left on the bench as City crashed out of the Champions League in Monaco on Wednesday night.

Can you see Yaya Toure going to Manchester United this summer?

Second Manchester United star closing in on Summer MLS move

Bastian Schweinsteiger seems destined to finish his career in MLS with reports linking him with a move stateside refuse to go away as the Manchester United midfielder is once again being targeted by the Chicago Fire, according to Guillermo Rivera.

Schweinsteiger has fallen down the pecking order at United – featuring just four times this season in all competitions – and will surely be allowed to leave at the end of the season, despite the fact he has one more year remaining on his contract with the club.

The Red Devils are believed to be willing to terminate the German legend’s contract if a suitable offer is presented to the player and so he would be able to join on a free transfer from July 1.

Chicago Fire are thought to be keeping close tabs on the former Bayern Munich hero, even though they now have two of Major League Soccer’s best holding midfielders in Juninho and Dax McCarty following a busy winter of transfer activity.

If he does complete a move to MLS, Schweinsteiger could follow his current United teammate Zlatan Ibrahimovic across the pond, as the striker has been offered a pay rise if he decides against staying in Manchester to instead join LA Galaxy in the coming months.

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Unlike Ibrahimovic, Schweinsteiger is not thought to have been offered more money to move to the United States and will instead have to accept his salary dropping from £140,000 per week to around £90,000, which works out as roughly $3.6 million per MLS season.

It is unclear just how much contact there has been between Chicago and the 32-year-old World Cup winner, although it is looking increasingly likely he will make the switch to MLS this year so don’t be surprised to see him pen a pre-contract agreement in the coming weeks.

Do you think Bastian Schweinsteiger would be a good signing for the Chicago Fire? 

LA Galaxy prepared to blow Man United out of water with $18m contract offer for Ibrahimovic

LA Galaxy are prepared to prove they’re serious about bringing Zlatan Ibrahimovic to MLS this summer by making him the highest-paid player in league history, with an offer that would see him pick up a significant pay rise from his current Manchester United deal, according to the Express.

Ibrahimovic currently earns around £11 million per season at United, which equates to about £210,000 per week. However the Galaxy are reportedly offering the iconic striker a deal worth £15 million a year – £290,000 per week.

That works out as roughly $18 million per season, although with Ibrahimovic currently 35-years-old it is unclear how many seasons he’ll be offered on any potential deal with LA.

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What is clear is that as things stand Ibrahimovic will be a free agent for the second time in as many years come the end of June, as he is yet to put pen to paper on a one-year extension at United despite reportedly agreeing to earlier this season.

There is a good chance an agreement will be reached with the Red Devils before the end of the season, although his decision will likely be made easier once he knows where the club’s European commitments lie next season, as another year without Champions League football might not be deemed good enough.

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Kaka is currently the highest-paid player in MLS, earning around $7.1m a season with bonuses included. So Ibrahimovic’s deal would see him earn almost three times as much as the Orlando City star and make him the highest-paid player in league history by some margin.

The Galaxy have a Designated Player spot free for Ibrahimovic should he join, following the winter departures of Robbie Keane and Steven Gerrard. Giovani Dos Santos and new signing Romain Alessandrini currently occupy two of the three DP slots.

Ibrahimovic has taken English football by storm since joining United last summer, scoring 26 goals in all competitions and firing the club to League Cup glory just a few weeks ago.

But with LA Galaxy looking very serious about a move for the former Sweden international and huge figures being thrown about, Ibrahimovic will surely be tempted to opt for the Californian lifestyle as soon as this summer.

Do you think we’ll see Zlatan Ibrahimovic move to MLS as soon as this summer?

MLS players reveal Man United striker would be best possible signing ahead of Messi and Ronaldo

Zlatan Ibrahimovic would be the best possible addition to MLS of all the names in world football, according to the results of an ESPN survey of more than 140 current Major League Soccer players.

The survey, which included players from 21 different teams, suggested that the Manchester United forward is the most-wanted man in MLS – for the players themselves at least – ahead of the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

New York City FC are the only MLS team who declined to participate in ESPN’s survey, which ensures anonymity for all those who take part in answering a wide range of questions.

On the topic of who they’d most like to see join MLS as the next Designated Player, Ibrahimovic came out on top with 22% of current MLS players naming him as their No.1 target.

The powerful striker has taken the Premier League by storm in his debut season in English football, despite being 35 years old, and could still move to MLS before he finishes his illustrious career.

He was heavily linked with a move stateside last summer when his PSG contract had expired, and although he chose to join up with Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford, he has been quoted as saying he could see himself “conquering the U.S. as I have with Europe” in the past.

Ronaldo and Messi are two unsurprising names that MLS players also want to see jump across the pond, with the Barcelona man just edging the Madrid star in the voting.

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The likes of Neymar, Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez are all names that cropped up as part of the poll, with the most-wanted stars listed below, based on the poll results:

  1. Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 22%
  2. Lionel Messi – 20%
  3. Cristiano Ronaldo – 17%
  4. Neymar – 6%
  5. Wayne Rooney – 6%
  6. Javier Hernandez – 4%
  7. Andres Iniesta – 4%

Ibrahimovic is currently only contracted at Man United until the end of the season. United appear to want to tie him down for another two years, but the striker is not believed to be keen on doing so, so we could yet see him plying his trade in MLS before the end of his career.

Would Zlatan Ibrahimovic be the best possible signing for MLS in world football?

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Manchester United vs Liverpool

Competition: Premier League – Manchester United vs. Liverpool

Venue: Old Trafford – Sunday, January 15 – 16:00 GMT (11:00 ET) 

Match Odds: Man Utd 21/20 – Draw 12/5 – Liverpool 13/5

Match Preview

Manchester United face Liverpool for the 50th time in the Premier League on Sunday in what is undoubtedly the weekend’s biggest game.

United are looking as strong as they have done for several years at the moment, having won nine games in a row in all competitions. Six of them have come in the Premier League and Jose Mourinho will be delighted with the progress being made.

The only concern for the Red Devils is that their Premier League rivals are all winning too, so they still find themselves in sixth place ahead of this weekend’s schedule.

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Liverpool enter the weekend in second, only five points higher than United, so this is a huge chance for the home side to close the gap and keep their winning run going.

Jurgen Klopp’s men had a strong festive period themselves but have been disappointing in their last three games in all competitions.

A 2-2 draw at Sunderland was followed by a 0-0 FA Cup draw against Plymouth last weekend. Before the Reds then fell 1-0 at Southampton in the first leg of their EFL Cup semifinal on Wednesday night.

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Sadio Mane is not available as a result of Africa Cup of Nations commitments with Senegal, although Philippe Coutinho has returned from injury, so Klopp needs to ensure he gets his team selection spot on for Sunday’s game.

The reverse fixture at Anfield ended 0-0 back in October but these sides have not drawn a league game at Old Trafford for 17 years, so it looks likely that someone will emerge victorious in what is a vital game at the top end of the table.

Team News

Jose Mourinho will be without Eric Bailly for the next few weeks as the defender has flown out to play for Ivory Coast in the Africa Cup of Nations. Marcos Rojo is a doubt after picking up an injury in last week’s FA Cup game against Reading. Zlatan Ibrahimovic missed the midweek clash with Hull because of illness but should return in time for this huge match.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp will be without Sadio Mane for the rest of the month at least as he is with the Senegal squad for AFCON 2017. Joel Matip, Jordan Henderson and Marko Grujic are all doubts, while Danny Ings and Mamadou Sakho remain out.

Key Points

Man Utd’s last five: W/W/W/W/W

Liverpool’s last five: W/W/W/W/D

Key Stat: This will be the 50th Premier League clash between these long-standing rivals. Manchester United have won 27 of the previous 49 games.

Key Player: Zlatan Ibrahimovic – The United striker should be passed fit to play and the home side need him as he has been in incredible form since moving to the Premier League last summer. He has 13 goals in his first 19 league games this term and has found the net in nine of his last nine PL matches.

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Score Prediction

Manchester United 2-1 Liverpool – Both sides will fancy their chances here, as both are so dangerous going forward, but United look stronger at the minute and Liverpool have looked vulnerable since the turn of the year. The loss of Mane could prove to be a factor as the home side look poised to seal a narrow, but important victory on Sunday.

Premier League Preview and Prediction: West Brom vs Manchester United

Competition: Premier League – West Bromwich Albion vs. Manchester United

Venue: The Hawthorns – Saturday, December 17 – 17:30 GMT (12:30 ET) 

Match Odds: West Brom 4/1 – Draw 13/5 – Man United 7/10

Match Preview

West Brom welcome Manchester United to The Hawthorns on Saturday evening as sixth face seventh in the Premier League.

The Baggies are in good form, with last weekend’s loss at Chelsea their only defeat in six league games. They bounced straight back with a 3-1 win over Swansea and look good value for their league position, sitting just four points behind United.

Tony Pulis will ensure his team are tough to break down against a strong United team here, and they can take confidence from the fact they’ve won their last three home games on the spin.

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For Manchester United, this represents another stern test in their final game before Christmas. Jose Mourinho’s men are unbeaten in seven and have won back-to-back league games for the first time since August.

They followed up last Sunday’s 1-0 win over Spurs with a 2-1 victory at Crystal Palace on Wednesday evening. That should ensure they travel to The Hawthorns in good spirits on Saturday.

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Mourinho’s men haven’t reached the levels expected of them so far this season but a win here would start to give supporters plenty of confidence at a crucial stage of the campaign.

West Brom beat United in their most recent meeting in March, with a Salomon Rondon goal enough to earn the Baggies three points. They’ve now beaten United in three of their last six meetings.

Team News

West Brom remain without Saido Berahino and Boaz Myhill, while former United defender Jonny Evans is a doubt after missing the midweek win over Swansea.

Manchester United are expected to be without Henrikh Mkhitaryan again here, with the Armenian winger not expected back until Boxing Day. Chris Smalling remains out, while Eric Bailly is expected to miss this trip after leaving the game at Palace with another injury problem. Luke Shaw is a doubt, as is Anthony Martial, who missed the game in midweek.

Key Points

West Brom’s last five: W/D/W/L/W

Manchester United’s last five: D/D/D/W/W

Key Stat: West Brom have won their last three home games, scoring 10 goals in those victories.

Key Player: Salomon Rondon – The Baggies striker netted a hat-trick on Wednesday night, becoming just the second player in Premier League history to score three headed goals in one game. He now has seven league goals this season and will be looking to guide West Brom to another win here.

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Score Prediction

West Brom 1-1 Man United – This is expected to be a tight contest between two sides that will be desperate to earn another impressive win in the final game before Christmas. West Brom have been scoring for fun at home and will threaten the United defence here, although Jose Mourinho’s men look to be finding form and will be tough to beat here. Score draw.

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Manchester United vs Tottenham Hotspur

Competition: Premier League – Manchester United vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Venue: Old Trafford – Sunday, December 11 – 14:15 GMT (09:15 ET)

Match Odds: Manchester United 6/5 – Draw 23/10 – Spurs 23/10

Match Preview

Manchester United welcome Tottenham Hotspur to Old Trafford on Sunday in the standout fixture of the Premier League action this weekend.

United know they’ve got a game on their hands with the visit of Spurs, this meeting usually offers an exciting tie, but given recent league form for United a draw would be far from surprising.

Jose Mourinho’s side are frustrating their fans. They’re creating well in games but are missing hatfuls of chances and aren’t strong enough defensively to hold out when they take the lead.

Despite the negatives, United are unbeaten in five in the league (W1, D4). Their draw last weekend at Everton was a disappointing result considering they looked to have the points wrapped up, but it’s another game unbeaten nonetheless.

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Tottenham will be full of confidence coming into this game. They thumped Swansea 5-0 at home last weekend and it could and probably should have been nearer double figures.

Mauricio Pochettino’s men are six points ahead of United in the league. They sit 5th, three points outside the top four and six points off top spot, they’re well in the mix.

Spurs need to win this game to keep pace with the top four. If results go in their favour they could end the weekend in third place.

The North London side have lost just once in their last 14 outings. They’re in fine form and are scoring freely, so they have to start with their usual high-press and intensity to put United on the back-foot from the word go.

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Team News

Manchester united are still expecting to be without Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw for this tie. Eric Bailly could be in line to start his first Premier League game in six weeks, he played 90 minutes in the Europa League in midweek. Wayne Rooney is available again after serving his one-match suspension.

Tottenham have just three injury concerns ahead of this tie. Erik Lamela and Vincent Janssen are both expected to remain out, while Ben Davies is a doubt. Toby Alderweireld could make his first Premier League start since October 15 after he featured in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Key Points

Manchester United’s last five: D/W/D/D/D

Tottenham’s last five: D/D/W/L/W

Key Stat: Manchester United have won just once in their last nine Premier League games.

Key Player: Harry Kane – The Spurs talisman is in fine form. He has netted seven league goals this season and will be excited at the prospect of getting at a nervy United defence. He will have to outshine Zlatan Ibrahimovic to ensure Spurs take all three points here.

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Score Prediction

Manchester United 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur – United to fall to another unfavourable result against one of the top sides in the league. Spurs know they have the chance of taking all three points at Old Trafford, but just because United are out of form by no means makes this an easy tie.

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Everton vs Manchester United

Competition: Premier League – Everton vs. Manchester United

Venue: Goodison Park – Sunday, December 4 – 16:00 GMT (11:00 ET) 

Match Odds: Everton 13/5 – Draw 12/5 – Man United 21/20

Match Preview

Everton welcome Manchester United to Goodison Park on Sunday afternoon in what is a hugely important game for two sides struggling form as we head towards the busy Christmas period.

Everton are winless in three and fell 1-0 at Southampton last weekend. They remain seventh and just one point behind United, so this is a big game for the home fans as they look to get back on track.

Ronald Koeman needs to get his side playing better football if they are to challenge for European football and Sunday offers them a great chance to prove their worth.

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United aren’t in much better form and find themselves 11 points behind league leaders Chelsea going into the weekend.

They were held to a 1-1 draw at home to West Ham last weekend but did beat the Hammers 4-1 in the EFL Cup on Wednesday evening to lift spirits.

United won their last away game at Swansea and would be delighted if they can leave Goodison Park with all three points for the second-straight season.

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The Red Devils beat Everton 3-0 in the corresponding fixture last year before completing a double over the Toffees with a 1-0 win at Old Trafford in April.

These two sides also met in the FA Cup semifinal back in May, with United coming out 2-1 victors on their way to lifting the trophy.

Team News

Everton remain without Muhamed Besic and Matthew Pennington. Tyias Browning and Arouna Kone are doubts, while James McCarthy is in contention to start after returning to training in the week.

Manchester United remain without Chris Smalling, who is still out with a broken toe, while Eric Bailly will miss out again despite returning to training. Wayne Rooney will miss the game at his former club as he is suspended. Luke Shaw is a doubt after picking up a knock in the EFL Cup win over West Ham on Wednesday.

Key Points

Everton’s last five: L/W/L/D/L

Man United’s last five: L/D/W/D/D

Key Stat: Everton are unbeaten in their last nine home games in the Premier League.

Key Player: Zlatan Ibrahimovic – The powerful United frontman scored two in the midweek win over West Ham and will be looking to add to his Premier League tally of seven goals at a struggling Everton here.

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Score Prediction

Everton 1-1 Manchester United – There is little to suggest either of these sides has enough quality to go and win Sunday’s clash. Everton are really struggling for form but are a well organised unit at home and have yet to lose at Goodison this season. United will hope their League Cup win over West Ham can be the start of a change of fortunes, but Jose Mourinho’s side have not shown any consistency in the league as of yet, so this one looks set to end all square.