Everton travel to the London Stadium to take on West Ham United on Saturday afternoon looking to leapfrog Arsenal, yes Arsenal, albeit they have played two games more than the north London club. The Merseysiders are in scintillating form at home, having won their last two games and scoring seven goals in the process.
Meanwhile, West Ham have seen better days as they have mustered only one win in their last five and that was a 1-0 win against relegation-threatened Swansea. Romelu Lukaku, the league’s top goalscorer, heads into this game in outstanding form.
Ronald Koeman has chopped and changed many times this season, occasionally opting to play a three man defence which has sometimes backfired (read: Chelsea 5-0 Everton). But overall, the Dutchman has done well at Goodison Park since his move from Southampton in the summer.
Injuries and suspensions
Defenders Ramiro Funes Mori and Seamus Coleman are both out for the season with a knee injury and a broken leg respectively. Everton will be buoyed by the return of Mohammed Besic, James McCarthy and Aaron Lennon. But the lack of match fitness might hinder their chance of getting game-time. Winger Yannick Bolasie is also out for the season. He is progressing well after sustaining a knee injury back in November.
Here is the predicted line-up against West Ham; they line up in a 4-3-2-1 formation.
Joel Robles has managed nine clean sheets in 18 league appearances this season. He has been Koeman’s first choice for a while now. He will start in goal for the Toffees on Saturday.
Mason Holgate has been one of the four academy starlets to make their debut this campaign. He has done a good job. Although Holgate can’t possibly match the attacking impetus offered by Seamus Coleman, the youngster has filled in very well.
Everton stalwart Phil Jagielka has seen a lot of game-time since the injury to Argentine Funes-Mori. He will partner Welshman Ashley Williams, who came back from suspension last weekend and also grabbed an assist.
Leighton Baines will resume his role in the full-back position. His attacking instincts will come to the fore against West Ham.
Morgan Schneiderlin has been immense for Everton since his arrival in January. He’ll start in front of the defence and play centrally in the three-man midfield.
Tom Davies‘ rise has been nothing short of remarkable. The manager has persisted with the talented midfielder and has been rewarded handsomely.
Everton have relied upon Idrissa Gueye’s performances this season. They noticeably looked open to threats in counter attacks when the Senegalese had gone away for the African cup of nations in January but his return has added more balance to the team.
One of the more popular of Everton’s players, Ross Barkley has shrugged off disciplinary issues and has performed brilliantly this season. The Englishman has recorded eleven assists this season. He will look to add to that on Saturday evening.
Kevin Mirallas has been overshadowed by another Belgian in Everton this season, but he is back to his best after a tough start to life under the new manager.
No surprises here, as Romelu Lukaku resumes goalscoring duties again this weekend. Rampant and lethal at home, the Belgian has also managed just eight goals away from Goodison Park this season. He will look to set that record straight at West Ham.