Sunday 30th October 13.30 GMT
In terms of form, it has been a very up and down season for Everton. With new manager, Ronald Koeman, installed over the summer, they hit the ground running and quickly breathed a new confidence and enthusiasm into fans and club alike.
An opening day draw with Spurs was followed by a five match winning streak which did much to banish the ghosts of the previous seasons’ travails. They were scoring goals to beat the band and playing clever, effective football.
All was rosy in the garden.
Keep your eyes on the road
Then a strange thing happened, the coach seemed to take his eye off the ball. Everton played host to Norwich in the League Cup and Koeman decided to rest a number of first team players. There’s nothing too cavalier about that, you might argue but the loss that night appears to have winded them as it was the beginning of a winless five match run which includes three defeats.
Koeman’s decision against Norwich saw the team take their foot off the pedal and they haven’t been able to get back up to speed since. Last weekend’s loss to Burnley is surely proof enough of this.
In the other corner, it looks as if West Ham have finally found said pedal. Their much-ballyhooed move to a shiny new stadium didn’t produce the results their marketing departments would have envisioned. Manager, Slaven Bilic, seemed helpless to arrest the slide, tweaks to formations and player positions proving futile. Unrest and discontent from their disgruntled home support added to the air of misery and angst.
Back in the game
However, a good win away to Crystal Palace allowed them to regain some composure and they followed up that result with another two wins, the latest of which was a deserved victory over Chelsea in the League Cup. Of late, Bilic has settled on a three man defense which has been the foundation of their recent success. Such a move was desperately needed given the four goals they conceded last month against West Brom, of all teams! Further good news comes in the shape of Andre Ayew, their summer purchase from Swansea having been injured to this point. Optimism flows anew.
It’s a different kettle of fish altogether for Everton. Confidence can’t be high and the muscle memories of listless performances from last season are still present. They need a win and they need it bad but will they be able to break through an obdurate West Ham rearguard? This column isn’t sure although we do expect the Toffees to dominate the game. Yannick Bolassie is the kind of tricky player whose off-the-cuff skills might be exactly what the doctor ordered in this regard. West Ham will threaten when they get the chance but they will need to make sure that Dmitri Payet is supported throughout, a difficult task when on the back foot. It might not be pretty but this column expects Everton to get back on track and take the three points. BetWay have a price of 5/6 for the home win.