Everton vs West Ham United key battles

Everton lock horns with West Ham United at Goodison Park in an important Premier League fixture on Saturday.

Monday saw the Toffees handed four points back from the Premier League, their original ten-point deduction being cut to six upon appeal. That lifts them out of the relegation zone, albeit their form has deserted them in recent weeks with just one win in ten. Sean Dyche’s side took a valuable point from the 1-1 away draw with Brighton and Hove Albion at the weekend.

Meanwhile, the Hammers will look to build on Monday’s impressive 4-2 win over Brentford at home. They had endured a forgettable 2024 until that point and David Moyes will hope the win against Brentford gets his team’s season on track.

That said, here are the three key battles to watch out for on Saturday.

#Jarrod Bowen vs Jarrad Branthwaite

Jarrod Bowen bagged his first career hat-trick in style on Monday, helping West Ham beat Brentford 4-2. He scored twice before the break and completed his hat-trick three minutes past the hour mark with a deft header past a helpless Mark Flekken. The England international, West Ham’s best player this season, displayed his ruthless finishing to take his tally to 14 Premier League goals for the season.

Due to Bowen’s red-hot form in front of goal, Everton cannot afford to give him a yard of space in and around the box. Thus, Jarrad Branthwaite will have to be on guard if he aspires to pocket his English compatriot in this clash.

Branthwaite has been a rare bright spark in an otherwise torrid campaign for Everton. He has been impressive alongside James Tarkowski in central defence for the Toffees, catching the attention with his ball-playing ability, reading of the game and aerial prowess. Facing Bowen will be a big test, and if Branthwaite can keep him quiet for the majority of the game, West Ham’s chances of getting a result in Merseyside will become high.

#Lucas Paqueta vs Ben Godfrey

Bowen grabbed the headlines on Monday with a superb hat-trick but it was the return of Lucas Paqueta which really made West Ham tick.

Paqueta, just like Bowen and Kudus, is extremely crucial to the side and it wasn’t surprising that the Hammers struggled in his absence in 2024 until the Brentford game. The Brazilian playmaker played his first match since returning from a calf problem and made a huge impact in a much-needed win for West Ham.

In Moyes’ 4-2-3-1 system, Paqueta is expected to start again on the left flank. Monitoring his movements in the final third could prove to be a tough job as Paqueta is extremely skilful on the ball and can create opportunities out of nothing. Therefore, Ben Godfrey will have his task cut out.

Nonetheless, Godfrey has started the last five games at right-back and demonstrated his robustness while defending. He has a good turn of pace as well to deal with tricky and quick wide players. Hence, if the Englishman can keep Paqueta under wraps, West Ham’s attack could struggle.

#Amadou Onana vs Tomas Soucek

The midfield will be where the game will most likely be won or lost. Amadou Onana started on the bench at the weekend but could be recalled into the starting XI at the expense of Idrissa Gueye against West Ham. Combative in nature, the Belgian will look to dictate the tempo of play from the middle of the park and get into the opposition’s box to score goals.

Playing alongside Garner in the double pivot, Onana will be face-to-face with West Ham’s Tomas Soucek. A towering presence, Soucek will relish the prospective battle with Onana and look to get the better of his adversary. All in all, it will be an intriguing battle between two giants and this contest will surely be decided on fine margins.

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