DAVID MOYES will have had sleepless nights this week wondering how he can quickly eradicate the defensive frailties that surfaced against Aston Villa in time for what is always a testing fixture at Old Trafford this weekend.
The Villa game was our most dominant display of the campaign on the ball with 68.3% of possession and 78.5% of final third possession. While we created more scoring opportunities than our visitors (21 v 8), Villa were more efficient in creating chances, requiring just five final third passes to create a chance compared to our seven.
Villa were particularly ruthless on the counter and regularly found pockets of space in behind Baines. This gave Distin a problem in that he was drawn away from his central role to cover on the left flank leaving Heitinga isolated with Benteke.
The Dutchman’s physical shortcomings were alarmingly exposed as the Belgian brushed him aside effortlessly for the first and third goals. In between, Villa’s second goal was again sourced down our left side with Heitinga guilty of slack marking to allow Agbonlahor to head home.
Defending balls into the box has been our Achilles heel all season and tellingly we have conceded more headed goals than any side in the top flight.
Next up is Manchester United in a fixture we haven’t won since a Warzycha-inspired Everton triumphed 3-0 in 1992.
As a caveat, some of the gamesŠserved up between the two sides in recent times have been deserving of the ‘hum-dinger’ classication, with six- and seven-goal thrillers at Goodison, and of course the 4-4 draw in last season’s fixture.
If fit, Fellaini will be pivotal to our game-plan as he has been in the last two tussles between the clubs that have yielded three goals for the Belgian. Early on this season Fellaini was the match-winner and stand-out performer in our 1-0 win as we played the ball into him early and in quite a direct fashion.
We have a good recent record against the top sides who will invariably come and take the game to us as opposed to sides that sit deep and counter.
If we can eradicate the comedy defensive gaffes which cost us dear against Villa there is no reason why we can’t replicate our early season win.