Everton face another tough test away to West Ham at Upton Park on Saturday afternoon. Everton are coming off a bruising encounter away to Stoke, a match which ended 1-1, not the worst result, but having led 1-0, Everton fans were left frustrated at yet another draw, a result which saw them slip to 6th in the table. The hosts are also coming off a draw, West Ham managed to hold onto a 0-0 draw away to high flyers West Brom, a result which cemented their impressive start to the season. Both sides could do with the 3pts, more so Everton, who have aspirations of a top 4 finish and need the 3pts to try and retake 4th from Tottenham. For West Ham, fans will be expecting a good performance and hopefully 3pts to harbour any hopes of European football next season for the Hammers.
Everton and England international centre back Phil Jagielka reflected on the draw against Stoke last weekend and on the upcoming match against West Ham saying
We were very happy once the final whistle had been blown,”
“It is always tough at Stoke, they play to their strengths and we had it tough at times because we are not the biggest of teams. It was not a bad result, we could`ve kept a clean sheet and seen the game out but a point was not a bad result.
‘We think this weekend will be pretty similar.’
West Ham assistant manager and former Evertonian Neil McDonald had this to say about Everton’s season so far
‘ I think they have been brilliant. They are obviously very organised under David Moyes and they have got some fantastic players who give everything for one another. The game on Saturday will be tough but we have been very good at home and only lost twice to Arsenal and Liverpool. We look forward to playing anybody at home but they have started well and are in the top half for a reason so like I said it will be a tough game. ‘
West Ham Team News:
For West Ham it is a bit of whoever is fit will play, The club has a long injury list, and as a result of this, last weekend could only name 6 substitutes on the bench. The casualties include Mohamed Diame (hamstring), Andy Carroll (knee), Yossi Benayoun and Ricardo Vaz Te, all of whom will miss the Everton match. In some relief for the Hammers, youngster Jack Collison could be in line for a return after he featured for West Ham’s U/21 side on Monday.
Possible Starting XI: Jaaskelainen, O’Brien, Collins, Reid, Demel, Noble, Nolan, Taylor, Jarvis, O’Neil, Cole
Player to watch: Kevin Nolan
He isn’t everyones cup of tea (especially Evertonians) but he is a very dangerous footballer. Technically, isn’t the most gifted player, but makes up for it with his attitude and work ethic and given space and time in the penalty box he will make Everton pay. Very dangerous from crossing and set piece situations, so Everton defenders are going to need to keep a close eye on Nolan, because if he is given a chance in the penalty box, it will end up in the back of the net. If Everton can keep their captain quiet, it will go a long way to securing the 3pts for Everton.
Everton Team News:
The main headline from the Stoke match was of course the headbutt from Everton star Marouane Fellaini, that headbutt sees him serve a 3 match ban and will miss the match against West Ham. Moyes has indicated that injured trio Kevin Mirallas (hamstring), Victor Anichebe (hamstring) and Phil Neville (knee) are all progressing well and was very tight lipped about whether they could play a part in this match, however, one would think all 3 are a serious doubt for the match.
Possible Starting XI: Howard, Baines, Jagielka, Distin, Coleman, Gibson, Osman, Pienaar, Barkley, Naismith, Jelavic
Player to watch: Steven Pienaar
With the big Belgian being absent for the next 3 games, a lot of the pressure will fall on the South African. Hasn’t been at his best since he made the move to Everton permanent, but he has been regaining some of the form that we saw at the back end of last season. His combination with Leighton Baines will be pivotal to Everton’s hope of 3pts, with a massive hole in the middle of the park thanks to Fellaini’s absence, Everton will need to rely heavily not he left hand combination for chances. If these two are allowed to run the game at their own pace, then Everton will be walking away from Upton Park with the 3pts.
Match Facts & Stats
1. Everton are currently 8 games unbeaten against the Hammers, with 4 wins and 4 draws.
2. Everton have scored in their last 14 league matches, their longest run since the beginning of the Premier League. Although, they have conceded in the last 12 games.
3. Since last season, Everton have only won 17% of games when Fellaini has been absent, as opposed to 41% when he has played
4. Everton have hit the woodwork 13 times this season, 2nd only to Real Madrid in the 5 major European leagues.
5. West Ham have only won once in their last 6 games.
This will be another tough and physical match for Everton. West Ham are short a couple of key players, but the same can be said for Everton. Fellaini will be a huge loss, but I still think this Everton side have enough quality to live without him for the 3 games. Fingers crossed a couple of the injured players can come back, but not holding my breath. For me, I see yet another draw for Everton, this time 2-2, with Jelavic and Naismith scoring for Everton and Cole and Nolan for West Ham. COYB!!! ENOUGH OF THESE DRAWS, WE NEED THE 3PTS LADS!!!!!!