While they have collected four points from their previous two games, Everton will offer a slightly different proposition than both Swansea and Sunderland supplied during those games. West ham have been having some serious problems with their defence this season which is not being aided by the loss of some of their key defensive players to injury, which makes the proposition of lining up against the Premier League's leading scorer just that little more daunting for them. While they still potentially require more points in the league to guarantee their safety, West Ham don’t look to have any easy games left on paper and so will be under pressure to clinch something from this weekend’s home game.
Everton however are sailing at the moment. They’re playing like a team with an air of confidence and freedom that has guided them up the table on the back of a string of results which has seen them only drop twelve points so far this year. This hasn’t always come as easily as it seems for Everton though, indeed they have only led away from home at half-time once so far this season and recorded four wins from sixteen on their travels. With West Ham still not comfortable in their new home, this weekend could provide the Toffees with an ideal opportunity to improve this record.
LAST TIME OUT
Sunderland 2 - 2 WEST HAM UNITED
Late drama saw West Ham lose two points and a player as they were pegged back to a draw at the Stadium of Light. The Hammers took an early lead in the 5th minute when Andre Ayew was on hand to turn an errant shot from Carroll into the Sunderland goal before a frantic game followed as two teams in dire form took turns attacking each other in a highly entertaining match.
Sunderland rebuffed West Ham’s attempts to control the game by replying through Khazri who hooked a corner directly into the goal in the 26th minute and the second half then continued the relentless nature of the first when James Collins met a corner within a minute of kick-off. After an exhausting clash there was then eleven minutes of time added-on due to a head injury received by Billy Jones and within the first of these minutes Fabio Borini had pulled the game level again with almost his first touch. West Ham’s afternoon was to get even worse when Byram received a second yellow card and the match ended with each team taking a point for their respective troubles.
EVERTON 3 - 1 Burnley
Everton’s impressive form continues as they clinched a win over a stubborn Burnley side to keep the heat on Arsenal. Despite Everton’s previous games supplying plenty of goals and excitement for their fans, this game started in a subdued fashion with each team carefully prodding at the other and a tight first half ended with the match still evenly balanced. Everton began the second period with much more conviction in attack and the pressure soon told on Burnley as Jagielka connected with a 49th minute corner and the ball then connected with the net.
Burnley were then allowed back into the match two minutes later when Joel Robles needlessly fouled Sam Vokes to concede a penalty and the Welsh striker picked himself up to send Robles the wrong way, nullifying Everton’s bright start. Everton continued to press Burnley though and after Mirallas has found the woodwork, Barkley and then Lukaku both found the net within three minutes of each other to stun the visitors with around 20 minutes remaining. It proved enough to win them the match and temporarily at least, moved them above Arsenal in the table.
West Ham United Lineup
The Hammers will be without Andy Carroll (thigh), Winston Reid (leg), Michail Antonio (hamstring), Pedro Obiang (ankle) and Angelo Ogbonna (knee), while Sam Byram and Mark Noble are both suspended, leaving Bilic with a conundrum in central midfield for this game.
Everton go into the match without Seamus Coleman (broken leg), Ramiro Funes Mori (knee), Yannick Bolasie (knee), James McCarthy (hamstring) and Muhamed Besic (knee).
A striking reaction
Following a reported argument between Sakho and Bilic prior to kick-off against Sunderland last weekend, The Senegalese striker’s dismay at being left out of the starting eleven may not be an issue this time around as an injury to Andy Carroll should see him starting up front for the Hammers. While most managers claim that they prefer to see a noisy reaction from their players when they don’t feature in the team, Sakho will now have to prove that he’s capable of walking the walk on the same pitch as the Premier League's leading scorer.
West Ham’s continued injury worries mean that their squad is being constantly stretched to cover the gaps being left in the managers first choice squad. With many of the fit squad players now being relied upon week-after-week, this leaves Bilic with few options to change a games direction through substitution. Everton meanwhile have one outstanding player from the bench in the shape of Enner Valencia who is averaging a goal every fifteen minutes for his club this season. With this kind of option in the wings, for the wing, Koeman has a distinct advantage over the Hammers if things don’t go according to plan.
Building for the future
The summer transfer speculation is already well and truly under way at many clubs around the Premier League, but Everton have hogged more column inches than most. While Lukaku has spoken of his desire to leave the club and the chairman has stated his intentions to invest in Koeman’s vision for the club, there is good reason to expect many photos of players happily holding shirts in the coming months. What Everton players are now showing though, is that many of them are happy to fight for their future in this side and this positive effect on the club has seen their form continue to bloom while many other teams stutter and fall.
PREDICTION: West Ham United 1 - 4 Everton
With the Hammers unable to defend a lead and likely to be without their main striker after Carroll again succumbs to injury, the signs are looking distinctively grim for Slaven Bilic’s men. Add to this the fact that Everton continue to shine and dismiss teams in the lower half of the table with ease while Lukaku appears addicted to scoring against the London side having scored in each of his previous nine games against them, I can see a few goals flying into the net at the London Stadium but not in a way the locals will be happy with.
Another defeat for West Ham? Give us your prediction in the comments section below.