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Everton determined to claw their way out of relegation zone, starting with a win over Manchester United

Everton boss Sean Dyche. File Picture: Nick Potts

EVERTON will take the field for the first time since receiving a 10-point deduction from the Premier League when they host Manchester United on Sunday in a meeting of teams on the rise.

Everton’s points sanction – the result of the league finding the club guilty of violating Uefa’s financial fair play regulations – dropped the Toffees back into 19th place and the relegation zone.

But the fact that manager Sean Dyche’s squad is still only two points beneath the line at this stage is a tribute to how much better the performances have been this season than last.

With striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin finally in good health after a series of injuries, and Abdoulaye Doucoure scoring four goals from midfield, Everton (4-6-2, 4 points) are unbeaten in their past four and were feeling comfortable in the middle of the table prior to the ruling.

“Everyone was shocked,” Dyche said of the Premier League’s decision to dock points. “The word ‘disproportionate’ has been used by the club. We are aggrieved, but it doesn’t change the focus of sorting things out on the pitch.

“We were on the right lines for that, the job hasn’t changed. The final league table is the truth of the season. We’ve got to play stronger.”

Meanwhile, Manchester United (7-5-0, 21 points) have won four of their past five in the league thanks primarily to a stout defence, and despite scoring only six times across those matches.

But losses at home to Newcastle in the League Cup and at FC Copenhagen in the Uefa Champions League during that stretch have somewhat obscured that strong league run.

Manager Erik ten Hag simply needs better contributions from attackers such as Marcus Rashford and Rasmus Hojlund, who have one league goal between them. Bruno Fernandes and defender Scott McTominay are tied for the club league with three.

“I am confident we will get a point,” Ten Hag said. “Our players are able to score goals; they have shown it already. Rashy last season, Hojlund in the Champions League. They have to step up, but our players have the ability to score goals.”

Ten Hag won’t be on the touchline on Sunday, as he serves a one-game ban after receiving his third yellow card on the bench in a 1-0 win over Luton Town on November 11. Hojlund is questionable after he was forced off in that victory. Reuters

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