Ronald Koeman’s Everton side take on Premier League leaders Manchester United in poor form but the Dutchman remains unbeaten in five meetings with Jose Mourinho and is yet to lose at Old Trafford.
Everton’s promising start to the season has been derailed in recent weeks following defeats to Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur while a 3-0 defeat to Italian side Atalanta in the Europa League will leave Toffees fans apprehensive going into Sunday’s clash with Man United.
Koeman’s work in this summer’s transfer window was generally viewed as positive with the acquisition of Jordan Pickford, Michael Keane, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Davy Klaassen as well as the return of Wayne Rooney to his boyhood club.
Despite an opening day win over Stoke City at Goodison Park courtesy of a Rooney header and a very creditable draw away to Manchester City where the ex-Man United man was again on the score sheet, Everton have underwhelmed since and a failure to land a suitable replacement for Romelu Lukaku has highlighted a serious lack of pace in attack.
Lukaku has hit the ground running since his £75 million switch to Man United with his strike in Tuesday’s Champions League opener against FC Basel goal number six of the season so far.
The loss of Paul Pogba to a hamstring injury will undoubtedly be a blow for Mourinho as he seeks to maintain his side’s position as Premier League leaders following three wins and a draw from the opening four rounds of games, with the Frenchman reported to be out for at least six weeks after pulling up against the Swiss champions early in the game.
While it may be just a slight anomaly, the Portuguese will also have in the back of his mind that he remains without a win over Koeman in the Premier League since the former Barcelona captain took over the reins at Southampton in 2014.
Spearheaded by Sadio Mane, Koeman’s exciting Southampton side picked up two 1-1 draws against a Chelsea side that would go on to win the title comfortably in 2015 while a seventh place finish and European football was just reward for the Saints.
However, Mourinho’s mood had darkened significantly by the time he faced Koeman again just three months into the following campaign as Chelsea’s title defence began abysmally amid rancour and unrest.
Southampton came from one down to record a famous 3-1 win at the home of the champions prompting the Chelsea board to release a statement publicly backing their manager but a 2-1 defeat at Leicester City in December was the final straw for Roman Abramovich who fired Mourinho for a second time.
A 94th minute Zlatan Ibrahimovic penalty rescued a point for Man United last season as Koeman maintained his undefeated record against ‘The Special One’ following a 1-1 draw at Goodison Park earlier in the campaign.
That last gasp spot-kick from Ibrahimovic back in April prevented Koeman from becoming the first manager in Premier League history to win three consecutive away games at Old Trafford.
Despite contrasting starts to this season, Mourinho and Old Trafford appear to bring out the best in Koeman which is why the blue half of Merseyside may well be travelling back along the East Lancs Road on Sunday evening with a smile on their face.
Gary Anderson, Pundit Arena
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Read More About: davy klaassen, europa league, goodison park, Gylfi Sigurdsson, jordan pickford, jose mourinho, Man United, Manchester United, michael keane, Old Trafford, Paul Pogba, Premier League, ronald koeman, sadio mane, Wayne Rooney, zlatan ibrahimovic