Can Everton cope with rampant Rooney’s return?
Everton welcome Man Utd to Goodison Park for Saturday's early kick-off. The visitors know a win will move them to the top of the table but they also know David Moyes' men have lost just one of their last eleven league matches so this should be a close encounter.
Everton (19/5) look like they are back to their best after a slow start to their campaign. They are on a great run of form and come in to this game on the back of an impressive 2-1 win over Sporting Lisbon in their midweek Europa League match. If they don't suffer from a "European hangover" that many teams do with two games in such quick succession, they have every chance of causing an upset.
Man Utd (3/4) are in great form and their midweek European victory is arguably more impressive, securing a 3-2 victory away at AC Milan. United will be encouraged by their history against Everton - just one league defeat in 15 years.
Everton have had their own little say in how the top of the table is looking this season with a victory at home to Chelsea and a draw away at Arsenal so it is not unrealistic for Everton to upset a big club.
A victory for Everton would see them move towards a Europa League qualification spot and would mean Man Utd could drop four points off top spot should Chelsea beat Wolves later in the day.
With both teams playing midweek there are some injury concerns, although in such a big tie I can't see any players being rested. Tim Cahill and Phillipe Senderos will both face late fitness tests for Everton. Fans will be devastated that Marouane Fellaini will sit out the rest of the season with an ankle injury while Tony Hibbert and Phil Jagielka are the notable long term absentees.
For Man Utd, Rio Ferdinand and Nani will both serve suspensions and Ryan Giggs, Owen Hargreaves and John O'Shea remain sidelined. Alex Ferguson will be boosted with news that Nemanja Vidic is back in the squad and could play for the first time in 2010.
Everton will need Louis Saha to perform against his old club to get anything from the game, if Cahill misses the game he is undoubtedly their biggest threat. He has 15 goals this season and is 7/1 to get the first goal or 2/1 anytime.
For Man Utd it is all about Wayne Rooney at the moment, he is having an outstanding season and while it is good news for all England fans in a World Cup year, it's been bad news for every club team he has faced recently with 13 in his last 14 matches. He is 4/1 first goal or evens to bag one at any time. You can also get 11/2 on Rooney to score first and Man Utd to win the match.
If you are looking for some more diverse markets then have a look at the corners for Man Utd. They have won the most corners of any team in the league (224) and conceded the fewest (77). The Corner handicap of Man Utd -3 is 11/8 or the market total Man Utd corners over 6 is priced at 7/10.
Everton's record against Man Utd may be poor but they certainly have the quality to get something from a tired Man Utd side. Personally I would look at either Everton draw no bet (21/10) or double chance with the draw (10/11).
Rooney is clearly in the form of his life and if he plays well in front of a crowd that is going to give him some stick, Man Utd will obviously be favourites but if he is tired from giving his all away in the San Siro - don't be surprised if Everton come away with something.