West Ham head to Goodison Park on Sunday, where they will be looking to record their first victory of the season as they face Marco Silva’s injury-hit Everton side.
After a miserable start to the Premier League campaign, the international break could not have arrived at a better time for the Hammers. The break has given them time to regroup and work on a couple of new things, following a disappointing last-minute home defeat against Wolves two weeks ago.
West Ham team news
Manuel Pellegrini revealed on Friday that Jack Wilshere will definitely not be available for the trip to Merseyside, as the midfielder is struggling with an ankle problem that he picked up a couple of days ago. The Chilean boss said that Wilshere will have a scan on the injury, to determine the full extent of the issue. West Ham may also be without Chicharito for the trip to Goodison, who is a doubt after suffering from illness during the week.
Elsewhere, long-term absentees Andy Carroll, Winston Reid and Manuel Lanzini remain sidelined, although the latter is believed to be making good progress with his comeback.
It would be no surprise to see Pellegrini again make changes this weekend, with just about every spot up for grabs after a woeful start to the campaign. Łukasz Fabiański should maintain his place in goal, following a decent start to the season despite the results. Meanwhile, Pablo Zabaleta could be drafted in to add more experience to the defence, with Angelo Ogbonna also desperate for a recall to the side.
Wilshere’s absence in midfield means that there is at least one place up for grabs in the centre of the park. Captain Mark Noble revealed that he has sought the help of specialists for the back problem he has been suffering from in recent weeks, but that he is hopeful of making the Everton trip. After a less than impressive performance against Wanderers, it would be no surprise to see Carlos Sánchez drop out of the side, perhaps in the favour of Pedro Obiang.
In the forward positions, Pellegrini will be hoping to see a lot more from his side. While Marko Arnautović is almost certain to lead the line, maybe Andriy Yarmolenko will be given his first Premier League start on the right-hand side, at the likely expense of Robert Snodgrass.
What has the manager had to say?
In his pre-match press conference in the build-up to the trip to Merseyside, Pellegrini was asked about how confident he is in himself and his squad after the recent poor results, to which he said:
“I don’t think that because you lose four games you must not be confident. It’s the opposite and, in this moment, I trust what I do more than ever because it is not the first time I have done this same work and it’s not the first time in my career we have had some bad results.
“All the clubs I have managed have had some bad results at one moment in the season. It’s not good to start with some bad results, but we are absolutely confident that we’re going to reverse it. I am not worried about the statistics. I am worried about finding the right team to play well and to win the game.”
The West Ham boss was also questioned about the threat that Everton will pose, but it seems as though he is more focused on preparing his own side for the clash:
“We don’t know what happens with Everton and who or who isn’t injured for them. We will see how many valuable players will not play on Sunday. The thing that can help West Ham will be to play well, to not lose so many balls, to have a high pace during the whole game and to have the players working well with each other, because we have a lot of new players, to adapt our mentality to play in a different way.
“It is important that we add points soon, but the pressure will be the same whether we are winning or not winning, because my own pressure is the same, which is to improve as a team, improve as a club and to play well, but if we do not add points, then that pressure will be high.”
Everton team news
Although Marco Silva’s squad is still massively depleted, the injury crisis within the Everton side appears to have eased slightly. Winger Theo Walcott could be in line for a return to the starting line-up, while Idrissa Gana Gueye, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Bernard may also all be available to face the Hammers.
Defender Yerry Mina, who arrived from Barcelona in the summer for a large transfer fee, returned to training this week, alongside James McCarthy who has been sidelined since January after suffering a broken leg.
The Toffees will still be without a number of key players, though, as Richarlison remains suspended, while Phil Jagielka, Michael Keane and Andre Gomes are all still absent through injury.
Toffees’ key man
Although Theo Walcott still remains a slight doubt for the fixture, he could well be Everton’s key man on Sunday. Over the years, the winger has proven to be a thorn in the Hammers’ side, having scored six goals to go alongside three assists in his last nine meetings against the club.
Walcott is a real threat in attacking areas, as he regularly ghosts in off the right wing into goalscoring positions. The forward’s quick feet and ability to take on full-backs could prove to be a real problem for Irons’ defence. In recent weeks, West Ham have struggled in wide areas and, if he is fit, Walcott will look to exploit that weakness at every possible opportunity.
The Hammers have a relatively average recent record against the Toffees, having recorded victories in just two of the last six meetings between the two sides.
In the 2015/16 Premier League season, the two teams played out a 1-1 draw at Upton Park, before West Ham went on to win 3-2 at Goodison Park later on in that season. The Hammers’ fortunes were not quite as good during the following campaign against Everton, as their opponents managed to take four of the six available points. The Toffees recorded a 2-0 home victory and then went on to draw 0-0 away to the Irons, in what was a rather dull encounter.
When the sides met last season, West Ham were stuffed 4-0 on Merseyside, in a game where Wayne Rooney scored an outstanding goal from the halfway line. The Hammers got their revenge at the London Stadium, though, as they went on to beat Everton 3-1 on the last game of the campaign, courtesy of two goals from Manuel Lanzini and yet another strike from Marko Arnautović.