Writing these previews often jinx what’s going to happen in the most Everton of fashions – last week for an example, reminding readers we haven’t conceded two goals in a league game before Scott Arfield scored the winner in the 90th minute to make it 2-1 to Burnley. So I thought I might as well do another preview for our next match, West Ham. They may have not had the best starts to the campaign, but they’re unbeaten in 3 and have won their last 2. This will be a hard match in a must-win situation for Everton. Here is my preview.
The Gaffer: Slaven Bilic (Win Ratio: 51.56%)
The Croatian man enjoyed spells at both West Ham and Everton as a player, as well as appearing many times for his native country. As a manager, he is even more exciting. In his first season in the Premier League he took ‘The Hammers’ to higher heights, achieving Europa League qualification, achieving the highest points total in the top division for 30 years (62 points) and a new record for goals at West Ham (65).
The numbers game is a key factor in his philosophy, sending many players forward and defending as unit, all together. Bilic’s team has a complete arsenal of attacking options and are very, very organised when facing the big clubs, victories away to Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool last season. This season hasn’t been the same fairytale and at times they have looked shocking defensively. A victory against a good side should trigger their start to the campaign.
West Ham Analysis: Formation and Style
Saturday’s visitors are a very physical side, Kouyate, Reid, Ogbonna and Nordveit all dominant when it comes to aerial duels. West Ham have won 18.1 aerial duels on average per game this season, which comes as no surprise. They are an aggressive side, bullying players off the ball and committing fouls, they’ve received 25 cards from referee’s this campaign, only Watford have more.
Bilic’s attacking philosophy is to generate as many shots as possible. To do this he has given West Ham a category of different attacking options and the depth in the squad to change it up. This can be from set-pieces or through the middle.
Previously against Everton, West Ham totally exposed us on the wings. They produced 35 crosses against us, scoring two headers. With the way we’ve been defending headers and crosses in general, this is a weak spot and Bilic will probably be looking too expose us from this again.
West Ham usually line-up in a 4231, Antonio and Payet playing as wingers rather than player-makers. Byram and Masuaku play as wing-backs, constantly overlapping, allowing them to cross and make more options for the winger. They aren’t afraid to change it up either, also appearing in a 433, 343 and a 352 formation this season.
Defensively, there have been times that they have been awful. Only Hull have conceded more than they have, and when the midfield have been beaten, tracking back and removing danger is no existent. Fast, attacking football has caught them out, just watch the amount of times Southampton got through with no issues in their last defeat.
Everton have been poor and against sides that are physical and fit, we tend to struggle. Koeman was spot on in his press conference, saying we need to be more productive but also to stay calm and be prepared – that goes out to supporters to. I’m not going to panic, we are used to stubborn, same old tactics, when it wasn’t working at Southampton, Koeman changed it up and they started to win games.
Despite this, we need to start going back to winning games. We made diabolical errors in both of the goals we conceded and we can’t afford to do the same this weekend. Coleman and Oviedo look very vulnerable at this moment in time, failing to stop crosses coming into the area. Creativity wise, we haven’t looked good either. Feeding Lukaku is absolutely crucial but it seems as if we don’t do it enough. There has been way to many times when the midfielder has just took the shot which ends up in the Upper Gwladys, when we have one of the best strikers in the league. Feed to Rom and he will score.
We cannot underestimate West Ham. I’m a big Bilic fan and he has built something great and exciting, similar to Martinez in his first season. There have been times when they’ve looked very poor when defending, but they still have a big attacking threat, creating 106 chances this season and yes that is more than us.
Overall, it’s a must win game for both teams. West Ham haven’t lost in their last three but a victory over us will definitely kick-start their season. Everton haven’t won in five games in all competitions, scoring just four times in the process. We are 4 points away from 5th spot and a defeat is very likely to increase that amount.
Everton are without Enner Valencia (thank god) due to FA rules regarding loan deals. Both Leighton Baines and James McCarthy are still out, alongside Gibson and Besic.
The visitors are without full-backs Bryam and Masuaku, joining the sidelines next to Tore, Carroll and Sakho.
Everton predicted line-up (433): Stekelenburg, Coleman, Williams, Jagielka, Oviedo, Gueye, Barry, Barkley, Deulofeu, Bolasie, Lukaku.
West Ham predicted line-up (4231): Adrian, Nordtveit, Reid, Collins, Arbeloa, Kouyate, Noble, Antonio, Lanzini, Payet, Zaza.
We have a good record against West Ham, especially Romelu Lukaku. In fact, we’ve only lost twice in 10 years against them and have scored in every game we’ve played against them since April 2007. This is the best West Ham team assembled during that time; we are up against it on Saturday. It’ll be an interesting match.
Prediction: Everton 1-1 West Ham
Up the Toffees.
Stats via whoscored and squawka.