Everton travelled to Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon with a depleted squad and little chance of returning with all three points. Rafael Benitez couldn’t draw upon Seamus Coleman, Richarlison or Dominic Calvert-Lewin through injury, three guaranteed starters and big personalities in this Everton team.
Manchester United, misfiring occasionally this season, came into the game on the high of a late Champions League victory at the same stadium against Villarreal the previous midweek. It was a big ask for The Toffees.
They responded, putting up an impressive performance that left all observers feeling like Everton Football Club are in good hands with Benitez. United took the lead in the 43rd minute through Anthony Martial; the Frenchman received the ball in space on the left flank before beating Jordan Pickford with a well-struck shot.
He had time to pick his spot as Ben Godfrey, a centre-back playing out of position at right-back, had gotten his positioning wrong and drifted inside, leaving Everton vulnerable out wide.
Conceding two minutes before half-time is never ideal, but Benitez’s Everton have demonstrated that they have what it takes to rally from adversity on several occasions this season and they did exactly that 20 minutes into the second half.
Their equaliser came from a United corner; Demarai Gray broke like lightning before feeding Abdoulaye Doucore, who carried the ball elegantly before cutting inside and finding Andros Townsend, who finished like a man with ice in his veins before paying tribute to Cristiano Ronaldo with an imitation of his famous celebration.
Ronaldo had only come on shortly before, rested by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for the game alongside Paul Pogba and Jadon Sancho.
Having the luxury of being able to leave those three on the bench speaks to the difference in depth between the two clubs at this moment in time, as well as the ability of each coach to extricate performances from their respective rosters. Benitez is draining every drop out of this Everton team, while Solskjaer doesn’t seem to be equipped to turn a strong side into genuine title challengers.
The game finished 1-1, although Everton had a gilt-edged chance to win it right at the death. The ball fell to Tom Davies in the area, and the substitute had a clear sight of goal. Instead of going himself, however, he squared the ball to Yerry Mina, who scored but was in an offside position.
The Colombian celebrated with his customary gleeful jig, but a VAR review quickly ruled it illegal. Everton left Manchester pleased with the point but undoubtedly wishing it had been three.
The result leaves both clubs neck-and-neck in the table, on 14 points with seven games played. Everton are fourth while United are third due to their superior goal difference.
Both teams are currently favourably ranked with some of the top bookies, many of whom are also offering promo codes to help you stake your claim for the team you believe is capable of achieving their aims this season.
Both sides are chasing different things this year; the former want to return to European football and deliver a campaign of clear progression, while the latter quite simply need silverware and a title tilt to justify the exorbitant investment they’ve made this summer.