West Ham United and Everton go head-to-head in what promises to be another tough Premier League fixture which could go either way.
The Hammers always present a difficult proposition for visitors to Upton Park, and with Sam Allardyce in charge that tendency isn’t likely to change anytime soon. However, in their last home game against Liverpool they threw away a lead to lose 2-3. Saturday’s task against 6th place Everton will be no less difficult, especially taking into account their growing injury list.
Andy Carroll, Ricardo Vaz Te and the impressive Mohamed Diame are amongst the players keeping West Ham’s physio busy this Christmas.
Everton manager David Moyes is not without his own set of problems. Kevin Mirallas’ remains sidelined with a hamstring injury and Marouane Fellaini starts a three match ban for his errant ways at Stoke City last weekend.
The Toffees attacking strength will be severely weakened without the two Belgians, and historically Everton’s win record is poor when Fellaini is absent. Moyes’ dilemma is whether to replace him with the safe option of former Hammer, Thomas Hitzlsperger, or to give a start to his young hopeful Ross Barkley who could provide more threat to West Ham’s defence.
Matt Jarvis v Seamus Coleman
West Ham’s Jarvis is a tricky customer when at his best and capable of giving the best full-backs a torrid time. Coleman’s weakness is his defending, so Allardyce will be hoping to exploit this to full effect. On the other hand, Jarvis will have to watch Coleman’s bustling runs down the flank which have proved very productive for Everton.
Carlton Cole v Sylvain Distin
The big striker is hardly in the greatest goalscoring form, but his sheer physical presence is enough to keep defenders occupied. If he can bully Distin, it may leave the way open for others to get in at goal. This is easier said than done as the veteran Frenchman still possesses pace and strength in abundance and has been a consistently leading performer during his time in the Royal Blue jersey.
Winston Reid v Nikica Jelavic
New Zealander Reid will have his hands full with Jelavic, who despite not being in the greatest form is always prepared to put himself about and is a handful due to his constant movement. Reid will have to be alert in the box because the Croatian is renowned for his ability to take just one touch to finish a chance.
Ultimately, this will be yet another tight encounter where neither side will want to give an inch to the other. Both teams very much mirror the character traits of their managers in that respect. West Ham’s ability to deal with the Baines/Pienaar combination down Everton’s left side could be the deciding factor.
Everton have scored in 14 consecutive games but have also shipped goals in 12 matches on the spin, so it wouldn’t be a shock to see the trend continue in this encounter.
West Ham’s depleted team will give high-flying Everton a run for their money, but with slightly more quality in the visitors’ line-up, this should be enough to steal the win and give a welcome boost to Everton’s top 4 challenge.
Prediction: West Ham United 1-2 Everton
Where To Watch Online: West Ham United vs. Everton960886