Both sides have new managers at the helm this season, with a change in footballing ethos seemingly evident in the two camps.
Manchester United have long been the team to beat in England; a side that caused fear to rise in opposition and, especially at home, have been too good for many an opponent.
During Sir Alex Ferguson’s tenure at the club, the Red Devils overcame adversity on countless occasions, and put their opposition under excruciating pressure until they buckled.
The legendary Scottish manager was not one to air on the side of caution, and generally fielded attacking starting XI’s, no matter of the opposition or occasion, and urged his men to take the game to the other side.
This season, that attacking mentality and belief have been the things that have most been missed. David Moyes has a massive job on his hands to ever fill the shoes of his historic countryman, but it appears that the former Everton boss is struggling to come to terms with the fact that his side will not be underdogs in games, and are always expected to win.
As such, United have been beaten at Old Trafford this season on three occasions, but it is not the likes of Arsenal or Chelsea that have been their conquerors. Falling victim to West Brom, Everton and Newcastle at home is unheard of for a club that has built its reputation for overpowering the division’s mid-level sides.
Meanwhile, at Everton, a new brand of exciting, attacking, free-flowing football has been captivating football fans. The Toffees have traditionally had a mantle of ‘tough to beat’, with Moyes in his time at Goodison making his side physical, in your face and hardworking.
A different tact is evident under Roberto Martinez, with the Everton side we see this season full of confidence and being urged to keep the ball on the deck. Going to the Emirates Stadium and having the glut of possession against table-toppers Arsenal on Sunday showed just how things have changed.
Everton are now one of the most attractive footballing sides in the division with neat interplay, playing out from the back and an attacking formation allowing them to outplay opposition.
United meanwhile seem to have lost their inspiration, look devoid of ideas and are seemingly not comfortable being the favourite in most games they play.
image: © Jason Gulledge