West Ham v Everton – Premier League
West Ham aren’t at full strength as they prepare to host Everton, being without Antonio and Carroll, their two most influential attacking players to injury, while Noble and Byram sit out to bans, the latter being a blow given the shortage of alternative right backs. Masuaku could fill in out of position, but is a weakening, while Calleri looks set to start up front. Reid returns and should start. Despite the injury problems, they will still look to win the game, but with little to play for they may find motivation lacking a bit. At home there’s always incentive to perform in front of an expectant home crowd, while the team will be keen to build on their mini resurgence of late. A draw isn’t a disaster for the squad and they’ll believe they can get one if they play well, but they want a win. Without Carroll they lose their physical threat in the final third, so they’ll have to play with more intelligence and guile in the final third to break down Everton. An open game would suit going forward as they do have pace, but they need to get ahead to have the best chance of winning. From behind, the best they are likely capable of is a point, but they’d open up and take some risks late on.
Everton are without seven to face West Ham, but aside from Coleman, Ramiro Funes Mori and Bolasie, only fringe players are out. Valencia can’t face his parent club, so an unchanged 11 from their last game against Burnley is expected, which is their strongest team. Holgate continues to fill in at right back and though he’s doing well, doesn’t have the same quality as the injured Coleman. Away form has been patchy this season, but they have a lot at stake as they try and keep in touch with the top six. They’ll feel this is an away game they are capable of winning and will want to take advantage of rivals not playing in the league this weekend to apply pressure with three points. A draw won’t satisfy at this stage, even though normally it wouldn’t be a poor outcome here. The approach is going to be quite open and counter-attacking, and with West Ham missing a few important players they’ll feel they can get at their hosts with their strong attacking line. Defensively they’d be quite content to lean back and counter if ahead but if trailing they’re expected to open the game up as it’s not a clash they can really afford to lose if they want to make the top six.
Verdict & Prediction
Everton kept the heat on their rivals with a routine home win over Burnley last time out, continuing a good run of home form. They’ll be very confident traveling to West Ham but haven’t convinced as much on the road this season, winning just one of their last seven on their travels. The belief in the squad is very high, so they will feel they can go to West Ham and win, but there is a lot of pressure as dropping points could signal an end to their top six hopes, with rivals having played fewer games. A draw would satisfy in more cases, but here they’re only looking to win.
Prediction: Everton -0.25
Odds: 1.76 Pinnacle