Anthony Martial scores in the 1-0 victory over Everton at Old Trafford
The first time Sir Bobby Charlton lined up against Everton, the visitors ran out 5-2 winners at Old Trafford. Unsurprisingly, Charlton was on the scoresheet that day – his third goal in what would only be his second appearance for the club, having struck twice on his debut against Charlton Athletic two weeks earlier. Fast forward nearly sixty years, 756 appearances more and an additional 246 goals – United fans witnessed the modern day clash of Manchester United versus Everton, with Charlton overlooking – as the “Sir Bobby Charlton” stand was unveiled.
Back in 1956, Charlton lined up alongside United captain Roger Byrne, Duncan Edwards and Bill Foulkes and would go on to win the league title by eight points ahead of Tottenham Hotspur. Today, Charlton saw a mediocre performance from the home side in what was a lacklustre game to close to the gap on Manchester City in fourth place. Anthony Martial scored the only goal following good work by Tim Fosu-Mensah on the right hand side. The visitors were unlucky not to equalise, with captain Phil Jagielka hitting the woodwork before a snapshot made David De Gea spring into action.
In what wasn’t the most eventful game between the two clubs of all time – Louis van Gaal remarked that his side “stole victory” from Everton – who before today had only lost once on the road in the league. Martial’s goal was the club’s 1,000 goal at Old Trafford in the Premier League era.
Everton’s long ball game mopped up by Chris Smalling and Daley Blind
Romelu Lukaku has been brilliant for Everton this season and will be in demand this summer following his goalscoring exploits over the past ten months. He is a brutally strong forward, with quick feet and has scored some vitally important goals for Roberto Martinez this term. Today, against United, the Belgian was relatively quiet having been marshalled excellently by Daley Blind – who time and time again stepped in front of his much bigger opponent to steal back possession. Chris Smalling, was also excellent, winning header after header and ensuring Lukaku was limited to single shot that was blocked in the second half. Smalling and Blind now have two clean sheets in a row, following the 1-0 victory over Manchester City two weeks ago.
The majority of long passes from Everton’s defence were mopped up by United
Everton’s game plan was to get the ball forward to Lukaku as quickly as possible and use the pace of Aaron Lennon, who was deployed to play through the middle of the park, and Gerard Deulofeu – who was getting some joy down United’s left hand side against Marco Rojo – to get in and around him. United’s backline proved strong and difficult to break down. The replacement of Rojo for Fosu-Mensah was a positive move, and the youngster looked at him in at right back – with Italian Matteo Darmian switching to left back.
United’s goal came from a lack of pressing by Everton’s midfield, with Ross Barkley, James McCarthy and Tom Cleverley sitting off Morgan Schneiderlin who struck a beautiful cross field pass to Juan Mata, who plucked the ball out of the air with a beautiful left footed touch. The Spaniard played in Marcus Rashford, who anticipated the run from Fosu-Mensah and rolled the ball into the path of the onrushing Dutchman. United’s young right back fired in a cross towards Anthony Martial, who had Seamus Coleman for company. The usually steady Coleman made a hash of his clearance and Martial had an easy tap in.
Everton were unlucky not to score when Jagielka thundered a header onto David De Gea’s bar from a corner – however, it was Blind’s day as he stopped Lukaku from getting on the scoresheet. The addition of Ander Herrera woke United up a bit, with a below par Michael Carrick unable to influence the game before being replaced by the Spaniard. Carrick was sloppy on the ball and his usual composure was lost in what was an unusually poor game. United’s number 16 has notched up more appearances in a United shirt that Denis Law, Lou Macari and Peter Schmeichel – but today was not one of his best, despite putting in some impressive displays in recent weeks.
The game may not have been fitting to the legend that is Sir Bobby Charlton – but the result is an important factor in the quest for a Champions League spot for next season. Everton were never a team Charlton scored many against. Sir Bobby notched up six goals in thirty appearances versus Everton over his seventeen year playing career for United – which isn’t as good a return as when you compare the goals he blasted past Tottenham (15) and Chelsea (10) over the years. However, the South Stand now bears the name of Charlton and it will look over the future of Manchester United for years to come.