Premier League 17/18 Week 38: West Ham United vs Everton – Lineups, Preview and Prediction
The Premier League’s two most experienced British managers battle it out against a backdrop of uncertain futures
15:00 BST, Sunday 13th May, London Stadium (London, England)
David Moyes has achieved his primary aim with West Ham this season, seeing them to safety after they were lingering dangerously close to relegation. Beyond this basic requirement, Moyes has delivered little more to his new club. The Hammers are on course to record their lowest league finish (previously 13th) since they regained their Premier League status 6 years ago, while the football being played can best be described as attritional.
When it comes to attritional football though, Allardyce has taken Everton to a new level this season. While he has made the Toffees far more effective than they were for the first half of this season, their current 8th-placed standing has left many fans feeling hollow about his achievements. Unbeaten now in their last 5 games, Everton can stretch that further with a win, however, Allardyce needs to add panache to the results which he’s slowly bred with the Toffees.
Last Time Out
West Ham United 0-0 Manchester United (Premier League)
The Hammers took a dignified point from 2nd-place United in a game of little quality and even less excitement. A lot of the game became bogged down in midfield as the Hammers sat deep and swamped the visitors’ attacks. Despite this, West Ham looked relatively comfortable in defence as they recorded a rare clean sheet.
Adrián was a large reason for this, producing 6 saves throughout the game to provide a strong last line of defence. At the other end of the pitch, Marko Arnautović worked tirelessly but was given little to work with. An isolated figure in the game for long periods, the Austrian forward appeared to have the beating of Chris Smalling when the chance arose, however, unfortunately for him and the Hammers, there were few chances created during the whole game.
Everton 1-1 Southampton (Premier League)
The Toffees snatched a last-gasp goal to draw against a Saints side who were fighting hard to avoid relegation. In what was the Toffees final home match of the season, they again failed to find a creative spark, putting only 3 shots on target in the game, the third of which bringing the goal 6 minutes into time added on at the end of the match.
Before that goal, the game was a stilted affair devoid of any real quality from both sides. Following a grim first half in terms of entertainment, Allardyce replaced the ineffective winger Yannick Bolasie with centre-back Ramiro Funes Mori who is returning from injury. What at first seemed a bizarre decision allowed the wing-backs to drive further up the field, however, it also left the Toffees exposed to breaks by Southampton which led to the opening goal. With time almost up, Tom Davies bundled in a late goal to salvage a draw for the Merseysiders.
West Ham United Lineup
Winston Reid (knee) Sam Byram (ankle) James Collins (hamstring) and Michail Antonio (hamstring) will all miss out for the Hammers final game although Pedro Obiang has recovered from his knee problem and will be available once more if selected.
Eliaquim Mangala (knee) James McCarthy (leg) and Gylfi Sigurdsson (knee) Theo Walcott (calf) Dominic Calvert-Lewin (back) and Wayne Rooney (knee) will all be absent while Mason Holgate will have a late fitness test to assess his recovery from an ankle injury.
Key Battle: Marko Arnautović (West Ham) vs Michael Keane (Everton)
Arnautović has fully justified his £25m price tag since joining the Hammers last summer, although he didn’t shine at his new club until Moyes arrived at the club. His first goal did not arrive until December, Moyes’ 5th game in charge in East London but was quickly followed another 4 over the following 4 league games. With his 10 goals and 6 assists all coming in the last 22 matches, Arnautović will once more be the main threat for Moyes this weekend.
Everton’s defence also experienced a slow start to the season, however, it took Allardyce much longer to elicit a positive change from this problem. Despite his £30m transfer fee, Keane has arguably struggled more than any other of the Toffees defenders this season but has found a regular place back in the team recently. With 3 clean sheets in his last 5 games, Keane will want to end the season on a relative high which another shut-out will certainly deliver him.
This season has witnessed the fall of several established figureheads within English football. Clubs and managers who previously enjoyed their status of being at the top of the game have struggled to deliver and are now in grave danger of being labelled as outdated.
The setting for this match may be that of the latest stadium to be introduced into the Premier League, but the two clubs contesting the game are currently managed by the two most experienced top-flight managers after Arsène Wenger. David Moyes has been in charge of 525 Premier League games while Allardyce has 511 already tucked under his belt.
Despite both managers fulfilling their brief of delivering their respective clubs from danger, they have both fallen foul of fans who want to be entertained. With only half a season each to deliver all expectations, it still seems too quick to call them out as extinct artefacts, especially given the relatively poor tools they had to work with.
End of a (boyhood) dream
Wayne Rooney’s knee injury means the former England captain is likely to have now played his final match for the Toffees. In what has been a vastly underwhelming season for the 32-year-old, it now seems he will only be left pulling on the Everton colours before stepping into bed each night.
Heavily rumoured to be on his way to America, Rooney has not had the impact on Merseyside he would have hoped for. Through all the fanfare in making the move back to his boyhood club last summer, Manchester United’s decision to off-load the player and his extensive wage bill for free this time last year is looking like one of the shrewdest pieces of business this season.
He can have little argument as has been afforded plenty of opportunities. missing only 5 league games under the three different managers who have reined over him. If he fails to hit the ground running in America, he runs the serious risk of tainting his star even further.
Prediction: West Ham United 1-2 Everton
While neither side has been setting the league alight this year, Everton are the side that have found a way to grind out results at a better rate than the Hammers. With little to play for but pride from the players perspective, the managers will not want to lose given their own precarious positions but Everton may just sneak a win from a low-intensity match.
(Photo Credit: Reuters/John Sibley)