Everton travel to Old Trafford for Saturday’s midday kick-off to take on an out of form Manchester United side.
Coming off the back of the 2-0 victory over Norwich in the Premier League, Rafa Benitez’s side will be full of confidence that they can heap more misery on the Red Devils.
But if pre-season is anything to go by, there’s room for caution but overall signs of optimism.When the two sides met at the same venue back at the start of August, United were 3-0 up in rapid fashion and of the four goals conceded that afternoon, three were from set-pieces.
The third goal, an unstoppable Bruno Fernandes free-kick we can ignore. Jordan Pickford stood no chance and not many goalkeepers in the world on their best day would have stood any chance of saving that.
But the second and fourth goals came from corners and both could have been dealt with.
For the second, it was a simple out-swinging corner from United’s Luke Shaw which found the head of Harry Maguire.
Maguire will likely be missing from United’s line-up this weekend but the danger will still remain.
As for the last goal, the home side worked a short corner and Everton just never adjusted.
The first goal of the afternoon? A simple mistake between Lucas Digne and Pickford which allowed Mason Greenwood to tap home into an empty net.
So why the optimism?
The goals just described sounded like a bad day in the office and that’s exactly what it was. It was a team still trying to find itself under a new manager and who were in pre-season form.
Since that game, Everton have gone on to win four of their six league games and have only conceded four goals in that time span.
The tactics have worked, mistakes on the pitch have been cleaned up on the training ground and the two teams are in a totally different place now.
Though United have added Cristiano Ronaldo to their ranks, that summer buoyancy has evaporated as manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is questioned about whether he is the right man to manage the club.
His high-profile summer signing of Jadon Sancho is yet to find form while Raphael Varane was at fault for the Champions League defeat to Young Boys.