Back at the start of the season, if you had said Sunday’s match between Everton and Manchester United would see one side fighting for a Champions League spot and the other looking to make a dent in the top six, most fans would have put Manchester United in the former category and Everton in the latter.
And yet fast-forward a few months and it is actually the other way round, with David Moyes’ side scrapping to finish as high as they can and the side he left behind tantalisingly close to a place among Europe’s elite next season.
A win for United at Goodison Park on Sunday may not ultimately change much for them in the short-term, but it would have a huge impact on Everton’s season. And considering the way the Toffees have been playing recently – putting Arsenal to the sword in impressive fashion – do not bet against them trying the same against the reigning but soon-to-be deposed champions.
Whatever happens, United will not be underestimating Roberto Martinez’s team, and Juan Mata even said as much when he wrote his weekly blog entry on Monday morning.
Of Everton Mata wrote, “They are having a spectacular season. It’s a very dangerous squad; even more at home.”
Moyes may know that particular pitch very well, but he can expect no favours when he returns to his old stomping ground. And while Mata and co. starred in their last league outing away to Newcastle United, one senses it will be a far tougher proposition against the season’s surprise package.