Verdict: Home win
Best odds: 13/10
As the race for the top four places in the Premier League heats up, West Ham United and Everton are set to do battle for vital points at the London Stadium on Sunday, in the 35th round of the 2020-21 campaign.
West Ham United
It’s certainly been an exciting season for the Hammers. Many are surprised to see their current table position, but in truth, the expectations at the club seem to have been gradually raised over the last couple of years; in fact, probably since they moved away from Boleyn Ground to make the London Stadium their new home in 2016. They don’t seem happy with mere survival in the Premier League anymore, they want more.
Still, to be well in with a chance of qualifying for the Champions League so late in the season is probably more than they had hoped for at the start. David Moyes has obviously put together a quality team, perfectly capable of maintaining runs of good results over longer periods.
West Ham are currently in fifth place with 58 points, five less than Leicester City in third, three less than Chelsea in fourth, two more than Tottenham Hotspur in sixth, and four more than Liverpool in sixth, though the fallen champions have a game in hand on all of them.
In their last six matches, the Hammers drew 3-3 at home against Arsenal, beat Wolverhampton Wanderers away by 2-3, beat Leicester at home by 3-2, lost by the same scoreline away to Newcastle, lost at home to Chelsea by 0-1, and beat Burnley away by 1-2.
It remains to be seen if midfielder Declan Rice recovers from his knee injury in time for this game, but even if he does, he’s not very likely to start. Other injury doubts include captain Mark Noble, and defenders Angelo Ogbonna and Arthur Masuaku.
Having scored twice at Turf Moor last week, Michail Antonio is nailed-on to lead the attacking line, probably with Jarrod Bowen in support along with Manchester United loanee, Jesse Lingard.
The situation at Everton appears somewhat different to that at West Ham. They have plans to move to a new stadium as well, but even though they are reportedly making significant progress in securing the necessary paperwork, the construction of the venue set to be built on Bramley-Moore Dock in Liverpool and to hold 52,888 seats is yet to begin.
Meanwhile, Everton appointed Carlo Ancelotti as manager back in December 2019, and expectations understandably grew apace, but their supporters will have been disappointed that the team still seems unable to engage in serious battle for Champions League football. They even made some arguably big-name signings last summer, bringing in the likes of James Rodriguez, Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure, but even though a top-four finish hasn’t yet been ruled out with certainty, it seems highly unlikely.
The Toffees are currently eighth with 52 points, nine behind Chelsea in fourth, six behind the Hammers in fifth, four behind Spurs in sixth, and two behind Liverpool in seventh, though they have a game in hand on all of them except their Red neighbours. Obviously, securing a place in the Europa League will be challenging enough.
The most worrying aspect of the situation at the moment is arguably their recent form. Their last six matches saw them lose at home to relegation battlers Burnley by 1-2, draw 1-1 at home against Crystal Palace, play a goalless draw away to Brighton and Hove Albion, draw 2-2 at home against Spurs, luckily beat Arsenal away by 0-1, and lose at home to Aston Villa by 1-2.
Ancelotti’s team was struck by misfortune in the warm-up ahead of the Villa clash when Rodriguez, initially named to start, had to pull out due to a calf injury. The Colombian playmaker is still unavailable, and his place is likely to be taken by Gylfi Sigurdsson.
On the other hand, Doucoure is back in the fold for the first time since March, as is centre-back Michael Keane after missing the last two games. With Keane back in contention, Mason Holgate might lose his place in the team if Ancelotti decides to go with four at the back.
Upfront, Dominic Calver-Lewin and Richarlison are practically certain to start. Whether there’ll be a place for Alex Iwobi probably depends on the formation as well.
It seems the Hammers are on a run of form too good for the Toffees to deal with at the moment, and anything other than a home win and a boost in West Ham’s top-four hopes would be a surprise.
Verdict: Home win
Best odds: 13/10
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!