Alexander Buttner

Premier League Playback: Why Moyes should go, Mourinho’s rant, Liverpool close

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MOYES HURTLING TOWARDS UNITED EXIT

On Monday, rumors, reports and the realization arrived that David Moyes’ time in charge at Manchester United is coming to a premature end.

The Telegraph’s Mark Ogden first broke the news as the Glazer family, who own United, have finally given up hope that Moyes is the right man to turn things around at Old Trafford. I witnessed what could well be Moyes’ last game in charge of United, the abject and lackluster 2-0 defeat to his old club Everton on Sunday, and everything that has gone wrong during his time at United’s helm was showcased in a truly shocking display.

A lack of passion and ingenuity from his players coupled with a shortage of tactical nous and one dimensional instructions from Moyes was, and has been, a recipe for disaster for the Red Devils. Now, as has been the suspicion for some time, Moyes seems to have lost the dressing room as his players went down with a whimper at Everton. Then Moyes said the following in his post-match presser.

“I thought we played really well in the first half but we lacked the killer ball. I agree there isn’t much point having a lot of possession if you don’t create chances. And we didn’t do that well enough. I thought the two goals we conceded were rank, rotten.”

I feel some sympathy for Moyes. We all knew that succeeding Sir Alex Ferguson was a hard act to follow, yet the way United have been playing and the way they continue to spiral out of control is alarming. Did anybody truly think that the Glazer family would hand Moyes another handsome transfer kitty of over $220 million this summer? With no guarantee of success and the only track record to go on being 11 defeats in a Premier League campaign for the first time in their history… of course not.

(More: Moyes vilified on return to Everton, as United nightmare continues)

United are out of the UEFA Champions League, unable to attract big name players and they’ve been forced to pay top dollar for good, not world-class, additions. Chuck in losing your entire veteran leadership group and the Empire has come crumbling down during Moyes’ leadership. The Glazers want to put an end to the suffering. Whether or not Moyes deserved more time is a debate for another day but the fact of the matter is, he didn’t do enough with the time he’s been given to lead one of the largest global brands towards success. Everybody knew there would be a drop off from the Ferguson era, but this is a deep nosedive into a dark abyss that’s threatening to derail all of the good work from the last quarter of a century.

The low points thus far: 3-0 and 4-1 defeats to Manchester City, 3-0 and 1-0 defeats to Liverpool, losses to West Brom and Newcastle at home, then to cap it off Moyes was beaten by his old side Everton home and away. Even a brief foray in the Champions League, where they were knocked out by Bayern Munich in the last eight, failed to cajole his side into action.

Sitting in the press box high up in the third-tier at Goodison on Sunday, something caught my eye, near the technical area. ‘It can’t be…’ I thought to myself. ‘It bloody well is.’ How this was allowed to happen, I’m not sure, but as Moyes stood arms-crossed on the edge of his technical area, a sense of foreboding may well have taken over the Scotsman.

Behind him, a fan had dressed up in a Grim Reaper costume, complete with a black cape, haunting face mask and an inflatable scythe which he pointed towards the United manager. On three of four occasions ‘The Angel of the Abyss’ wandered towards Moyes (see above photo) before being asked to remove his costume after 15 minutes of the game by police officers.

That ominous feeling seemed to overtake Moyes throughout, as his side struggled to cope with Everton’s counter-attacks and the Grim Reaper has lived up to his reputation once again, with Moyes hurtling towards the exit at Old Trafford.

Premier League Schedule – Week 35

Result Recap & Highlights
Aston Villa 0-0 Southampton Recap and watch here
Cardiff City 1-1 Stoke City Recap and watch here
Chelsea 1-2 Sunderland Recap and watch here
Everton 2-0 Manchester United Recap and watch here
Hull City 0-3 Arsenal Recap and watch here
Manchester City 3-1 West Brom Recap and watch here
Newcastle United 1-2 Swansea Recap and watch here
Norwich 2-3 Liverpool Recap and watch here
Tottenham 3-1 Fulham Recap and watch here
West Ham 0-1 Crystal Palace Recap and watch here

MARTINEZ EMBARRASSES MOYES WITH TACTICAL NOUS

Since the 1969-70 season, Everton had not won home and away against Manchester United in the same campaign.They have now, and they thoroughly deserved it.

Moyes’ replacement at Goodison Park, Roberto Martinez, has breathed new life into the Merseyside club with free-flowing soccer the aim as his players express themselves at every possible opportunity.

Overloading on the right wing, stifling the opposition’s attacker, being patient and keeping the ball when needed, launching incisive and devastating counter-attacks; these are all of the tactics Everton manufactured superbly on Sunday as they defeated Manchester United 2-0 at Goodison Park.

(More: Martinez revels in Everton’s humbling of Man United)

On his return to Everton, Moyes was vilified by boos from the same fans who once adored him. As he stood in his white sneakers on the sidelines, arms crossed and a sour expression spread across his face, a familiar picture unfolded before his eyes; United being outwitted.

Everton loaded the right wing with Seamus Coleman bombing on and Kevin Mirallas staying high on United’s left back Alexander Buttner. It worked a treat. One small tactical maneuver from Roberto Martinez bamboozled Moyes as Everton out-thought United. Worryingly, which is one of the main reasons Moyes seems to be on the way out, Everton outworked the Red Devils. I asked Martinez after the game if their shock 3-2 defeat to Crystal Palace last Wednesday provided his side with a wake-up call to go out and beat United, as their race to finish in the top four intensifies.

“I think it was a very important defeat to digest and understand,” Martinez said. “I told the players we were magnificent going forward against a Crystal Palace team who are superb defensively. The problem was we conceded three goals, and you need to control that. You need to know how to win football games. Today was the first time we had something to lose. We were in a position where we weren’t trying to get something, we were trying not to lose something. I think this performance was the perfect answer. To go 2-0 up, then keep a clean sheet against the champions, it is as good as it gets.”

The best is yet to come from Martinez and Everton, as many would argue he has bettered Moyes’ decade of work at Everton in the space of just nine months. Martinez admitted Moyes laid the foundations for him to succeed, yet the real job was always going to be lifting Everton from a side who perennially finished in the top seven, to a team consistently challenging for the top four.

MOURINHO’S RANT

Speaking after Chelsea’s shock 2-1 defeat to Sunderland on Saturday, which put a mammoth dent in Chelsea’s title hopes, Jose Mourinho lost the plot in the post-match interview.

“No, [I am not shocked] I just want to say four things. I am sorry because. If you ask me more questions, I will repeat the same words. I have four things to say: Congratulations to my players because they gave what they have and what they don’t have… Congratulations to Sunderland, because they won… Congratulations to Mike Dean, because he made a fantastic performance… And congratulations to Mike Riley, because of what they did during the season was fantastic for the way the Championship is going. Congratulations to all of them. I’m sorry, I have nothing more to say.”

That was it. Mourinho’s 77-game unbeaten run at home in the Premier League was over, and there’s nothing like accepting defeat gracefully…

Mourinho was up to his old tricks again, as his thinly veiled conspiracy theory about the referees ganging up on Chelsea was a little embarrassing. Mike Riley, the head of the Professional Game Match Officials Board (PGMO) didn’t escape Mourinho’s wrath, as the late penalty awarded to Sunderland for a foul on USMNT forward Jozy Altidore (yes, he came off the bench) did look dubious. We’ve seen them given though, as Cesar Azpilicueta slid in rashly and Altidore went down leaving referee Mike Dean with no choice after his assistant referee waved his flag.

That said, Mourinho’s constant need to deflect the attention away from his players and on himself is starting to wear thin across the English game. Various columns were written about the Special One being too involved in his own self-importance and unable to lose with dignity.

(More: Mourinho’s sensational swipe at officials after Chelsea suffer shock defeat)

Chelsea have lost to Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and now Sunderland in recent weeks, as the Blues have come undone at the end of a largely inconsistent season. The UEFA Champions League semifinals prove the saving grace for Mourinho’s men, as they face Atletico Madrid in the final four of Europe’s elite club competition this week and next. Sandwiched in between that is a trip to Liverpool, in what was once billed as a title decider, now it looks like damage limitation for Mourinho’s men.

He couldn’t handle losing to Sunderland late on. How will Chelsea’s boss react to losing the title this season?

LIVERPOOL CAN’T DEFEND… CAN’T STOP SCORING EITHER

Last week in the latest PST Extra, myself and Mike Prindiville discussed Liverpool’s run in and if they are worthy title favorites. After Chelsea’s defeat, they are the red-hot favorites. One reservation myself, and many others, have had about Liverpool is their tendency to leak goals like an antique sieve.

(More: Latest Premier League standings)

In their 3-2 win against Norwich on Sunday – which has put them five points clear at the top of the standings with three games to go – leaks started to appear as Simon Mignolet came for a cross when there was no needed, collided into Martin Skrtel and Gary Hooper stood bemused, then tapped the ball into an empty net. Nerves will play a part in the three games to come, as Liverpool host Chelsea and Newcastle, with a tricky trip to in-form Crystal Palace sandwiched in-between. The Red have conceded 44 goals this season, have only kept three clean sheets in their last 10 matches and have conceded 14 in the time frame.

However, here’s the kicker; they’ve scored 33 goals in their last 10 games.

That is why Liverpool will likely win the Premier League title, baring a monumental collapse — only a defeat to Chelsea and Man City winning out may thwart Brendan Rodgers’ men — as the people’s favorite will prevail. If you had a show of hands amongst neutrals, journalists and fans of other PL teams, I’m 99.9 percent sure the overwhelming majority would want Liverpool to win the league, if their own team could not lift the crown.

A joy to watch, full of goals and drama, plus the true inspiration of the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster driving them on, Liverpool’s will soon be the Premier League champions, in my opinion. They also be the people’s champions, too.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR NOMINEES: ANALYSIS

It is awards time in the Premier League again, as spring time is here and the top six players, and young players, have been nominated by their peers for the Professional Footballer’s Association (PFA) Player of the Year award.

Here’s a quick rundown on the six stars in each category, as Eden Hazard and Daniel Sturridge have been nominated for both.

source: AP
Suarez and Gerrard both nominated for PFA award, as Liverpool dominate.

PFA Player of the Year nominees – Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard, Daniel Sturridge, Eden Hazard, Yaya Toure, Adam Lallana

If Liverpool win the league, expect the winner of this award to come from either Suarez, Gerrard or Sturridge. I’d plump for Gerrard. Suarez and Sturridge, particularly the former, have banged in 53 goals between them but Gerrard has reinvented himself since the turn of the year and has been the heat and soul of Liverpool’s sublime title charge. 11 straight wins and counting to finish the season, are you serious? Of course, Eden Hazard has been a star for Chelsea as the Belgian international winger has finally realized his promise on the big stage. Yaya Toure has been a monster in the middle for City, scoring 22 goals and generally ploughing through opposition midfielders and defenenders. Adam Lallana is the wildcard. This season he’s become an England international, has captained Southampton towards what will likely be their best-ever PL campaign and has wowed neutrals with his mind-boggling skills on the ball. A real mixture of players is in the six-man shortlist, but Stevie G gets my vote for his inspirational leadership as Liverpool stroll towards the league title for the first time in 24 years.

PFA Young Player of the Year nominees – Raheem Sterling, Daniel Sturridge, Aaron Ramsey, Eden Hazard, Luke Shaw, Ross Barkley

Sturridge and Hazard both got on this list too, and it wouldn’t surprise me if either won the award after stunning seasons. Raheem Sterling has had a superb start and finish to the campaign, but fizzled out in the middle. That said, the 19-year-old winger has sublime talent, pace and has shown in recent weeks that he can finish when given a chance. Aaron Ramsey would have probably won this award had injury not curtailed his season and you have to remember how well the Welshman played in the early months of the campaign. The other two players on the list have both become full England internationals this campaign. Luke Shaw has excelled all season at left back for Saints, with many top clubs sniffing around him as the Saints starlet is set for a bright future. Barkley is a real talent in the middle, where he glides effortlessly into attack and plays as though he has years of PL experience under his belt. Two-footed, an eye for a pass and able to score spectacular goals, what more do you want from a young player?

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Click to enlarge – Relegation picture with three games to go.

PLOT THICKENS AT THE BOTTOM

Last week it was Cardiff and Fulham… this week it was Sunderland and Swansea who gave themselves a shot in the arm against relegation. We’ve already discussed the Black Cats’ shock win away at Chelsea, as Gus Poyet’s side are now just three points from safety with a game in hand over all the teams around them.

(More: Relegation Watch – Sunderland gain ground in tight table)

As for Swansea, Garry Monk’s boys beat Newcastle 2-1, with a Wilfried Bony double (including a last minute PK winner) edging the Swans towards safety. As we’ve seen too often this season, you can’t say they’re totally out of danger. Almost, though. Fulham went down bravely to Tottenham, after dominating large spells of the first half and looking like a team full of confidence as they fight for their lives, As for Cardiff, they hardly battered Stoke, and could’ve easily lost the game late on but held onto a 1-1 draw which they really doesn’t help them.

With three games to go for most of the teams down the bottom, Norwich seem to be the team everyone thinks will slip into the bottom three. With Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea still to play, the Canaries certainly have a tough task on their hands.

It is a case of three from five to be relegated, but who those three teams will be, it’s anybody guess at this late stage of the campaign.

Premier League Playback takes an alternative look at all the weekend’s action from the PL, it comes out every week.

Roberto Martinez revels in Everton’s humbling of Manchester United

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LIVERPOOL — Wearing his brown shoes on the sidelines at Goodison Park, Robert Martinez barely left the edge of the pitch the entire game.

Style, substance and subtle, his team had all that and more on Sunday.

The Spanish coach has transformed Everton’s playing style in his first season in charge at Goodison Park, as his team are still in the hunt for a top four spot with three games to go. Sitting on 69 points, the Toffees are also looking at a record points haul, as they stellar season under the Spaniard continues.

(MORE: Everton 2-0 Man United – Toffees rampant in miserable return for Moyes)

One point and one place behind fourth placed Arsenal, the Toffees are focused on qualifying for the UEFA Champions League. However, despite keeping their UCL hopes alive with a 2-0 win over Manchester United on Sunday, they also had another reason to celebrate.

Everton haven’t beaten Man United home and away since the 1969-70 season. That’s something Martinez is delighted to have achieved.

“It is a big thing, we knew since the 1969 we haven’t done the double over United,” Martinez said. “It is one of the things that tells you about this group of players are ready to develop something special. There is a mental side, if you can do the double over the current champions, then there is something special in this group. I always felt we are developing into a strong side. I thought it was important for our fans to today be proud of their team, to have something to remember and have a special memory. It was perfect to give them something back for all the support they have given us.”

(MORE: Moyes vilified on return to Everton, as Manchester United nightmare continues)

source: AP
Baines gave Everton perfect balance, as Martinez’s side impressed once again.

With three games left, especially after a demoralizing defeat to Crystal Palace in midweek, this was the kind of performance Martinez was hoping for. Energetic from the start and an extra bite all over the pitch, Everton’s gameplan of soaking up United’s pressure then counter-attacking worked perfectly.

Martinez knew it.

“With three games to go until the end of the season it was the right type of performance,” Martinez said. “We were full of energy, dynamic, on the counter-attack we looked electrifying. We are a very exciting team to watch on the counter-attack. We had to defend and be patient and pick our moments. Once we did that I thought we were terrific. When we saw the lineup with Kagawa, Mata, Nani and Rooney we knew they were going to try to get on the ball and try to take the sting out of the game. That is when as a team you have to be adaptable. I thought we were devastating on the counter-attack, if anything we should’ve scored more. We had good chances, they were on the ball but they never broke us down.”

What about David Moyes and the squad he left Martinez at Everton?

The Toffees boss was full of praise for the building blocks put in place by Moyes as the Spaniard has built his own squad around the framwork Moyes left behind.

“I was a very fortunate man to walk into a football club where everything was in place,” Martinez said. “The work that David did over 11 years was there. Previously I have gone into football clubs that look like a bomb exploded. Believe me the best situation for a manager is to have something like that. Yes, I wanted to change many things, but I didn’t want to lose anything. I brought 10 players in which is a big amount, the senior players were very open to play in a different manner and we gave a massive role to the younger players. That is the big difference in this squad. I thought David Moyes’ job at Everton provided the platform for the performances we have been able to put in this season.”

One area where Martinez outwitted Moyes was on the flanks, especially on the right.

Right back Seamus Coleman created the second goal after a number of marauding runs from the run kept United at bay. Kevin Mirallas scored the second, as he and Coleman tormented United’s left back Alexander Buttner all afternoon.

Speaking of that threat, Martinez revealed he’s extremely happy with the entire balance of his side, as they are in the hunt for a top four position with three games to go.

“It is fair to say that we created that space, we are a very well balanced side,” Martinez said. “We carry threat on the left hand side, Leighton Baines can really hurt you in possession, Seamus Coleman is developing his penetration, then in the middle you have Ross Barkley and Steven Naismith, who is in form at the moment, I thought we were a well-balanced team today. We had to be patient. It was the first time this season we gave the ball to the opposition, but the way we used it in our favor was quite impressive.”

David Moyes vilified on return to Everton, as Manchester United nightmare continues

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LIVERPOOL — Boos rang around Goodison Park as David Moyes stood on the edge of his technical area before Manchester United’s 2-0 defeat to Everton on Sunday.

Every time he was shown on the big screen Everton’s fans showed their distaste and the home fans finished off the game with a rendition of “You’re getting sacked in the morning” just to rub salt further into the wounds.

This is not the homecoming the former Everton boss would’ve wanted on his first trip back to Goodison since he left last summer.

United were outfought, outplayed and looked inferior across the board as Everton recorded the double over United for the first time since the 1969-70 season, following their 1-0 win at Old Trafford back in October. With the victory Everton kept their top four hopes well and truly alive, while United saw theirs vanish mathematically.

(MORE: Everton 2-0 Man United – Toffees rampant in miserable return for Moyes)

After the match Moyes insisted his side played well, much to the bemusement of the assembled press, but with Champions League soccer out of the window for next season, the former Everton boss knows his side are struggling.

“It hurts [not finishing in the top four], it’s part of this club,” Moyes said afterwards. “We are doing everything we can to get ourselves back in it again. I think the supporters have been behind the team incredibly. I think they’ve realized it has been a difficult season. The supporters are supporting the team and they understand it has not been good. I recognize it hasn’t been good. It needs to be better.”

While United need to do better, Everton have reached 69 points for the first time in Premier League history. Throughout their win over United on Sunday, it was a strange sight seeing the man who’d been the hero of Evertonians for over 11 years, vilified by the fans who had adored him.

source: AP
Baines, a transfer target for Moyes and United, came back to haunt his old boss.

As Moyes brought his United side back to Goodison Park for the first time since he left the Blues last summer, instead of a heroes’ welcome, Moyes got a mouthful from angry Everton fans all afternoon.

They taunted him with songs (“Moyesy, Moyesy give us a wave”) and a home fan wearing a Grim Reaper costume with an inflatable scythe stood behind Moyes for the opening 15 minutes. That about sums up Moyes’ mood right now.

“We should’ve played better, we didn’t create chances,” Moyes said. “We passed it well enough but we could’ve done better. We didn’t do it today, we had a lot of the ball but we didn’t make it count. Everybody knows we are on track to make changes and do some different things. We are rebuilding. We’ve got things we want to do, today there were things we didn’t do well.”

United didn’t play well, at all, and Everton’s fans were lapping it up on the terraces. Yet, why the animosity towards a man who turned Everton from regular battlers against relegation to perennial top four challengers?

The United manager tried to raid his old team last summer, as he eventually signed Marouane Fellaini for $37.5 million and tried to lure Everton left back Leighton Baines to the Red Devils. The rhetoric Moyes used to try and unsettle both players angered the Everton faithful and with the subsequent success of new Blues boss Roberto Martinez and Moyes’ rough start to life at Old Trafford, Evertonians now believe life under Moyes wasn’t as grand as it once seemed.

Martinez spoke of Moyes’ past tenure at Everton and how he is reaping the benefits from the carefully laid plans the Scotsman put in place.

“I was a very fortunate man to walk into a football club where everything was in place,” Martinez said. “The work that David did over 11 years was there. Yes, I wanted to change many things, but I didn’t want to lose anything. I brought 10 player sin which is a big amount, the senior players were very open to play in a different manner and we gave a massive role to the younger players. That is the big difference in this squad. I thought David Moyes’ job at Everton provided the platform for the performances we have been able to put in this season.”

Following a number of poor performances this season, Moyes is now undertaking a total rebuild of United’s playing squad.

“We’re doing that behind the scenes and we will continue to do that behind the scenes just now,” Moyes said. “We will do everything we possibly can to get a team that is capable of winning better than what we’ve been doing recently.”

source: AP
Mirallas grabbed Everton’s second and was a constant thorn in United’s side down the right flank.

Make no mistake about it, Moyes worked wonders on a shoestring budget with the Toffees as he guided them to fourth place, guaranteed a top 10 finish and brought in plenty of profit from many shrewd transfer dealings. Moyes put the building blocks in space for Martinez to succeed, yet the free-flowing attacking soccer Everton now roll out on a weekly basis is in stark contrast to the restrictive and simple soccer Moyes deployed.

That was evident on Sunday, as Everton marauded down the right-wing effortlessly — with Seamus Coleman, Kevin Mirallas and Romelu Lukaku ganging up on Alexander Buttner to devastating effect — as United’s defense couldn’t handle the Toffees’ inventive and forthright approach. Moyes’ own United team looked lightweight, with Shinji Kagawa, Juan Mata and Nani trying to get on the ball but as soon as the ball was lost none of them got back to defend. That left United horribly exposed, as the Red Devils knocked the ball from side to side with no real purpose and lacked creativity in the final third.

Moyes admitted, his current side failed to compete with the team he meticulously assembled and is now watching flourish from afar.

“We had good control of the game, we had the bulk of the ball,” Moyes said. “Everton area a threat on the break, their first goal was a big kick up the pitch from Ross Barkley, nodded down, picked up and for us to conceded a goal like that was terrible. The second one was a better move, but we should’ve defended them much better.”

Does Moyes deserve to be a villain at Goodison Park?

The Scotsman has done nothing wrong, yet in a world were instant success is now expected and legacies are quickly forgotten, what he left behind at Everton is now being built on as Martinez takes the Blues to the next chapter.

UEFA Champions League dreams are real at Goodison Park with three games to go this season, while Moyes’ United have been overtaken by the side he left to further his coaching career, win trophies and play in Europe. Oh, the irony.

Everton 2-0 Manchester United: Toffees rampant in miserable return for Moyes

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LIVERPOOL — Everton kept their race for a top four spot on track, as the Toffees’ beat Manchester United 2-0 at Goodison Park on Sunday. The victory marked the first-time Everton had beaten United home and away in the league since 1970, as Robert Martinez’s boys continue their excellent campaign.

Former boss David Moyes got a less than hospitable welcome from the home fans on his return to the club he’d managed for over a decade up until last summer. Moyes’ United’ side were sloppy from the get go and found themselves 2-0 at half time. They never recovered.

First Phil Jones inexplicably handled a Romelu Lukaku shot to give away a penalty, which Man United’s summer transfer target Leighton Baines dispatched with ease. Then just before the break an incisive attack down the right hand side — United had a torrid time against Seamus Coleman down that flank all game long — saw Coleman play in Kevin Mirallas to finish superbly across goal.

United offered little going forward with former Evertonian Wayne Rooney cutting a frustrated figure, as Moyes’ men put in yet another tepid display in a season to forget.

With the win Everton keep the heat on Arsenal in fourth place as the Toffees sit one point and one place behind them in fifth on 69 points, while United stay in seventh as any hopes they had of miraculous top four finish are now officially over.

(MORE: Moyes vilified on return to Everton, as Man United nightmare continues)

An even start at Goodison Park saw Everton flying into tackles, as the Blues aimed to go to within one point of Arsenal. The first real chance of the match arrived after eight minutes as Coleman’s right wing cross was only partially cleared by Chris Smalling to the onrushing Ross Barkley, but the Everton youngster skewed his shot horribly over.

Everything that was good about Everton came down their right flank in the early exchanges, as Coleman bombed on to support Mirallas who both ganged up on Alexander Buttner at left back for United. The Red Devils’ narrow midfielders weren’t tracking back, as both Nani and Shinji Kagawa were nonexistent defensively. Soon after, another Everton foray down the right found Steven Naismith in the box who teed up Romelu Lukaku but his powerful shot was blocked square in the face by Phil Jones who didn’t flinch.

source: AP
Mirallas grabbed Everton’s second and was a constant thorn in United’s side down the right flank.

A strong call for a penalty then arrived in the 19th minute, as another Coleman cross found Naismith who steered a volley goalwards but his shot struck Jonny Evans in the arm. Referee Mark Clattenburg waved away shouts from the home crowd, as United seemed to have got away with an early scare. In the 21st minute Naismith was in the thick of things again, as the Scotsman was first to a knockdown from Lukaku but rushed his effort and volleyed way over the bar when he had time to take a touch, then shoot.

(MORE: Martinez revels in Everton’s humbling of Man United)

Moments later Everton were ahead, as another rapid counter-attack saw Naismith set up Lukaku who sent a curling shot towards the bottom corner that Phil Jones clearly handled, after slipping on the greasy Goodison surface. Baines stepped up to send David de Gea the wrong way, as the man Moyes tried to sign over the summer came back to haunt him. United showed little in the first half, as Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney and Shinji Kagawa combined masterfully on a few occasions, but Everton’s exuberant defense closed them down before any harm was done. Everton went in 2-0 up at half time thanks to counter-attack down — you guessed it — their right hand side, that saw Coleman play in Mirallas to rifle into the bottom corner.

(MORE: Latest Premier League standings)

At half time Antolin Alcaraz replaced Sylvain Distin at center back and the Paraguayan defender was called into immediate action as Rooney wriggled free of two challenges but Alcaraz made a superb last-ditch tackle to deny the former Everton forward. Moments later Kagawa had a long-range drive comfortably saved by Tim Howard, as United started the second half well.

United tried to prod and probe their way back into the game, with Moyes chucking on Javier Hernandez and Antonio Valencia with 30 minutes to go try and salvage something from the game. Instead the home side looked dangerous every time they went forward, as Barkley’s marauding runs through the center were causing all kinds of problems with Lukaku having a powerful shot well saved by De Gea.

Late on Naismith should’ve grabbed a third for Everton, as Mirallas’ right wing cross found the Scotsman unmarked on the penalty spot but he lashed his volley over the bar in the 75th minute. Naismith was thwarted again in the 80th minute, as a break from the Toffees saw De Gea tip his shot wide.

Despite late United pressure, which saw Howard save Rooney’s effort from point-blank range, Everton held on to record a memorable victory and heap more misery on Moyes.

LINEUPS

Everton – Howard, Baines, Distin (Alcaraz, 45′), Stones, Coleman, McCarthy, Barry, Mirallas (McGeady, 90′), Barkley (Osman, 69′), Naismith, Lukaku.

Goals: Baines (28′), Mirallas (43′)

Manchester United – De Gea, Jones, Smalling, Evans (Hernandez, 61′), Büttner, Carrick, Fletcher, Nani (Valencia, 61′), Kagawa (Welbeck, 74′), Mata, Rooney.

Premier League Preview: Newcastle vs Manchester United

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  • Manchester United’s haul of 30 points from road games is best in the Premier League
  • 28 goals and 14 assists will be missing between Rooney and Remy
  • Newcastle has five losses in their last seven home matches

Neither team will have their first-choice striker as Manchester United travels to St. James Park at 10am ET on NBCSN or live online at NBC Sports Live Extra.

David Moyes confirmed Wayne Rooney will be absent with a toe injury that could put his Champions League future at risk as well, and Alan Pardew will miss Loic Remy with an ankle injury.

Pardew admitted he has an “injury crisis” with the Magpies, with Moussa Sissokho, Mathieu Debuchy, and Tim Krul all missing out.

Newcastle are desperately fighting off Stoke City for a top-10 finish, as they’ve been outscored 8-1 in their last four fixtures and have allowed the Potters to climb closer.

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For MUFC, their Premier League season is essentially a wash, with a top-four finish all but unattainable.  Moyes will be much more focused on Wednesday’s second leg against Bayern Munich in the Champions League, with a tournament victory likely necessary to secure play next season.

Ryan Giggs, Alexander Buttner, and Antonio Valencia all picked up various injuries in the first leg, and while Moyes won’t want to risk too many of his players with knocks, he’ll want to keep the form going heading into the important midweek match.

What they’re saying:

Manchester United winger Ashley Young – “We’ve got to keep the momentum going. We want to take three points from the weekend into the second leg against Bayern and then see how things go”

David Moyes on possibly looking ahead – “I don’t think you can ever question the character of Manchester United; it’s engrained in the football club.  The only thing we’re thinking about is the Newcastle game.  We have to go there and put in a good performance and pick all three points up and build up a little bit of momentum.”

Alan Pardew on Newcastle goal shortage – “Somewhere down the line, we need to get goals and we’re very focused on that. But you need a foundation to score goals and our problem at Southampton last week was that we never had that. We’ve been working on the structure of the team to give Manchester United some problems. And hopefully Papiss can smash one in from 35 yards as well.”

Prediction:

This match has many variables.  Manchester United will no doubt be looking forward to Wednesday, which could form this Newcastle match into a sort of trap game.  Meanwhile, Newcastle are missing a multitude of important pieces.  It’s hard to see Pardew giving United too much trouble, given the visitors’ recent form.  I could see a smooth 3-0 United win, but it’s possible the home side pulls out an upset.