WILL DYER (@w2Dyer) finally gets some relief from previewing Manchester clubs. This Super Sunday kicks off with Everton hosting West Ham, the Toffees are win-less in four, does that run end here?
Everton v West Ham | Sunday 13:30 | Sky Sports 1
A welcome change then from previewing Manchester clubs. Everton are without European football this season and as a result this is their first Sunday game. Their 11th placed finish last season simply wasn’t good enough for a club with such an array of talent on the books.
In came Ronald Koeman in June and the experienced Dutchman has already had a great impact. He’s only 53 but has already been in management for almost two decades and has proven himself in the Premier League with two fine seasons in Southampton.
The Toffees have hit a bit of a blip with no win in their last four matches but they are still sixth. They face West Ham at Goodison Park this weekend, where they are unbeaten so far through four matches against Crystal Palace, Middlesbrough, Stoke and Tottenham.
Everton’s eight goals conceded is a defensive record bettered only by Tottenham. The capture of Ashley Williams was a brilliant move in my opinion and I would argue that this side will do better with him than they would with John Stones.
Stones might go on to become the world class defender everyone his tipping him to be but last season was a poor one for him and Everton clearly needed a change at the back.
The late sucker punch from Scott Arfield at Turfmoor would have hurt Everton fans. They dominated the game with 66% possession and spent much of it in Burnley’s half creating good chances but it wasn’t to be.
The 4-3-3 formation is working well with Yannick Bolasie’s excellent wing play and great crossing ability helping Romelu Lukaku no end. On the other side of the pitch we are seeing a much improved Kevin Mirallas, he had a season to forget last year under Roberto Martinez.
All in all, I think we have an Everton team that will be incredibly hard to beat at Goodison and should finish in the top 8 consistently under Koeman’s tutelage.
The same cannot be said for West Ham United for whom this was supposed to be their dream season. Instead they sit 15th after some dire performances and are under fire from, not just the media and fans, but the general public for crowd trouble both in the stadium and in the Stratford area.
The woes have eased thanks to back-to-back 1-0 wins against Sunderland and Crystal Palace. They have Manuel Lanzini’s to thank for much of that. The little Argentinian had a brilliant debut season and continues to make intelligent runs and predict the ball well.
Simone Zaza has hardly set the world alight. Six games gone and he’s still yet to open his account. The striking position has been a troubling one for the Irons in recent seasons; Diafra Sakho started well but faded, Enner Valencia too, Andy Carroll’s injuries.
Instead the Hammers have had to rely on midfielders for goals; Michail Antonio, Dmitri Payet and Manuel Lanzini have all obliged but when your strikers aren’t doing their job it’s not conducive to winning football matches.
I think we should expect a similar story for West Ham on Sunday. Everton are looking good in all areas of the pitch and the visitors have defensive problems too, so much so that Cheikhou Kouyate had to play in a back three last weekend; the man must have no idea where he is on the pitch at times as he’s played seemingly every position under Slaven Bilic.
The sale of James Tomkins to Crystal Palace was a massive mistake for me. I struggle to see how this unsettled Hammers defence will cope with Romelu Lukaku. The big Belgian forward has haunted West Ham throughout his time with Everton; scoring in seven of his last eight appearances against them. For that reason, you simply have to back him at odds-against to notch in this one; 21/20 with Betfair.
The only notable absences for Everton are Leighton Baines and James McCarthy but Bryan Oviedo is a wonderful replacement at left-back and youngster Mason Holgate also showed great promise earlier this season.
With Everton playing a three-man midfield McCarthy hasn’t really been missed as Gareth Barry, Ross Barkley and Idrissa Gueye have been excellent. Everton can also opt for Tom Cleverley and may well do that with the onus probably on them to be on the front foot in this tie.
Gueye has been another brilliant signing. After just five games the Senegalese midfielder had made an astounding 31 tackles, eight more than any other player and 17 more than any Everton player had made at the same stage last season.
He cost Koeman just seven million from Aston Villa and could be as influential for Everton as N’Golo Kante was for Leicester City. Everton are 5/6 with Betfair to win this game and I’m happy to back that. I was tempted to boost this by combining it with a home clean sheet but West Ham have scored in every away game so far this season and things do look to be moving in the right direction for them.