Matchday: Toffee and Hammer

Three in a row for the Hammers or a return to Merseyside misery?

Everton West HamLast season’s victory at Everton put the seal on a season long respite from the traditional northwest travel sickness with a once in a lifetime haul of three wins and a draw from the away-day excursions to Liverpool and Manchester. Defeat by Manchester City means that it is a feat that cannot be matched this time around but today is an opportunity to see if the cure was purely temporary.

West Ham go into the game looking for a third league win on the bounce (four in all competitions) while Everton after a bright start to the season under Ronald Koeman have not won any of their last 5 outings. Victory at Goodison last March was the last time West Ham won three league games in a row and so the omens are good but remember they usually lure us with hope and leave us disappointed.

“So he is always scoring against us, unfortunately, so that’s also going to be interesting. It will be a great game. They need points. We need points.”

– Slaven Bilic on Lukaku

The game last season was the classic game of two halves (or more accurately a game of the first 78 minutes and the final 12). For most of the match we were poor against an Everton side who were reduced to 10 men just after the half hour until some strange Martinez substitutions handed the initiative to the Hammers with three late goals and an unlikely 3-2 victory. Re-live the entertainment below and for the ‘twitchers’ among you there is a rare sighting of Carroll and Sakho on the pitch at the same time.

Head to Head

Everton have dominated the encounters between the two clubs and until last March had been unbeaten against West Ham in 15 matches. If history is anything to go by a visit to Goodison usually ends in a heavy defeat; Everton having averaged 2 goals per game on their own turf..

P

W

D

L

F

A

Sequence

Home

63

23

17

23

95

92

DLDLLD

Away

61

11

13

37

50

122

WDLLLD

124

34

30

60

145

214

Team News

No new injury concerns for West Ham and no return to fitness from any long term treatment room residents as yet. It would be a major surprise if the team that started against Chelsea was not the same one that starts today but with Adrian back between the sticks. It would mean that the striker conundrum remains unresolved but allows room for the many suddenly in-form midfield players which now also appears much better balanced as a unit. We will most probably see a further 20 minute run-out for Andre Ayew as he continues his return to full match fitness.  The slight concern of three at the back is against fast breaking teams who are strong on the flanks. Definitely something to watch out for against Everton although Koeman is far more cautious than his predecessor and has focused on improving his team’s defensive capabilities with some, although not total, initial success.

“Overall I’m happy with the defensive organisation but I’m not happy with the offensive aspect. We need to improve and be more clinical and have more productivity.  That’s what we need to change.”

– Ronald Koeman

Everton are without dirty James McCarthy and Leighton Baines is apparently doubtful. We can hope that Lukaku stubs his toe or slips over in the shower this morning otherwise we will need to score at least twice to claim all three points.

As ever I am hoping for a win but would settle for a point in a game where I believe both teams will score.

The Man in the Middle

Today’s referee is Anthony Taylor from just down the road in Greater Manchester. He was also in charge of this fixture last season where he sent off Kevin Mirallas for two bookable offences; another positive and enticing omen. Taylor was also holding the cards in our season opener at Chelsea in August when he failed to wave one in the direction of eventual match-winner Diego Costa following his assault on Adrian.