A 3-1 defeat for nearest challengers Manchester City at Southampton on Saturday means that United are now even firmer favorites to reclaim the title they relinquished to their local rivals last season. But extending their advantage is no foregone conclusion against a club that have given them all types of problems in their past two meetings.
It was in the closing weeks of the last campaign that United relinquished a two-goal advantage to Everton in the dying minutes to drop points that would prove crucial in the tile race. Then in their first league match this term, Everton shocked United with a 1-0 victory at Goodison Park.
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is well aware of the challenge his side will face.
"It's a tough game on Sunday," Ferguson said, according to Manchester United’s official website. "We were 4-2 up with seven or eight minutes to go. It was unexpected and we have to anticipate the unexpected in the run-in. That was a bad blow for us and it cost us the league.
"Everton are very experienced and, if you look at their record, they’ve only lost three games this season. They're obviously hard to beat.
"But the team is playing well, I’m pleased with their form and I’m pleased that the players we’re changing around, when I’m making different team selections, are buying into it well.”
Everton will also be desperate for the points at Old Trafford as they battle to try and achieve a spot in the Champions League for next season. Their position would be even stronger but for a frustrating number of draws. Although, unbeaten in their last five Premier League encounters, Everton have only won twice in that spell.
David Moyes is likely to be boosted by the return to fitness of key midfielder Marouane Fellaini after a hip injury. Phil Jagielka is also likely to be passed fit.
There is good news on the injury front for United too, with Ashley Young, Michael Carrick and Phil Jones all fit for selection.
Manchester United (probable)
G: De Gea
D: Rafael, Evans, Ferdinand, Evra
M: Carrick, Cleverley
Valencia, Kagawa, Rooney
F: Van Persie
D: Jagielka, heitinga, Distin, Baines
M: Mirallas, Gibson, Osman, Pienaar
Prediction: Crucial to Everton turning their poor record against United around in their last two meetings has been the performances was Fellaini, who dominated his opponents with his physical presence. It appears that the Belgian will play, although if he is not at full fitness it could be hugely detrimental to Everton’s hopes of getting a result.
While there remains a chance that Ferguson could rest some key players with Wednesday’s Champions League encounter with Real Madrid in mind, United are on a roll right now and should still get the three points.
Manchester United 2-1 Everton
Where to watch: The Barclays Premier League encounter will kick-off at 11 a.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by the Fox Soccer Channel, with an online stream available later in the day with a free trial to Fox Soccer 2 Go.