London: England striker Wayne Rooney will return to former club Everton on Saturday looking to help Manchester United revive its stuttering Premier League title challenge at a ground where the team has struggled in recent seasons.
United have slipped five points off the fierce pace set by Manchester City following a humbling 6-1 home defeat to their rivals last weekend, which came a week after needing a late equaliser to rescue a 1-1 draw at Liverpool.
Rooney missed last season's fixture at Everton as United manager Alex Ferguson spared the striker a return to Goodison Park to protect him from the vitriol of the home fans following tabloid revelations about his private life.
But Rooney, the league's joint top scorer with nine goals, is unlikely to be missing this time around as United look to recover from their first defeat of the season and claim a first win at Everton since 2007.
"It's always a difficult game at Everton," Ferguson said. "They all put a shift in and are always committed."
"It's been a tough week for everyone. It was a bad result but we have to get over it. The fans, players, employees, staff - everyone was involved in the disappointment. We must kick on."
Rooney has been unable to maintain his sensational early season form, when he scored nine times in five games, and is without a league goal in his last four matches.
The United striker's lapse has allowed City striker Sergio Aguero to join Rooney as top goalscorer and the Argentina international will be confident of adding to his tally when the free-scoring league leaders host struggling Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday.
City followed up their rout of United by powering to a 5-2 victory over Wolves in the last 16 of the League Cup on Wednesday. Wolves head into the return match of its four-day double-header with Roberto Mancini's team without a win in six games and languishing in the 16th place, two points above the relegation zone.
"The United game is past, it's history. Now we must focus on Wolves," Mancini said. "I remember the Arsenal team that went unbeaten (in the 2003-04 season) were very strong, an incredible team. I don't think we can do that this year."
"Last year we lost at Wolves and here we won 4-3 but they had chances for 4-4 before the end. If we think we can play 50 per cent, not like against United, then we have a problem."
Also on Saturday, it's Chelsea vs. Arsenal, Norwich vs. Blackburn, Sunderland vs. Aston Villa, Swansea vs. Bolton, Wigan vs. Fulham and West Brom vs. Liverpool.
On Sunday, Tottenham play QPR at White Hart Lane in the day's only game.