Five Talking Points – Everton

Five Talking Points


The major topics for discussion as West Ham United prepare to host Everton in the Premier League...


1. Stop Lukaku, stop Everton?

Romelu Lukaku
Romelu Lukaku’s goalscoring record for Everton against West Ham United is scarcely believable – The Belgium powerhouse has netted in ALL NINE appearances he has made for the Blues against the Hammers.

After joining Everton from Chelsea in 2013, Lukaku has faced West Ham in seven Premier League appearances, scoring a single goal in each and registering three assists. Of the 13 goals the Blues have scored in those seven games, therefore, the forward has been directly involved in ten!

Put simply, if West Ham can stop the 23-year-old on Saturday, they stand a good chance of stopping Everton.


2. New home, new fortune?

There is a joke among Everton fans that, whenever the Blues are suffering from travel sickness, a trip to east London serves as the perfect remedy.

In 2014/15, the Blues arrived on a two-match losing run… and won 2-1.

In 2013/14, Everton arrived having won just one of their opening four Premier League matches… and won 3-2.

In 2012/13, Everton had won just twice in eleven Premier League fixtures when they visited the Boleyn Ground… and won 2-1.

In 2009/10, Everton were without a win in four Premier League matches when they travelled to Upton Park… and won 2-1.

The Blues have not lost at the Hammers in the Premier League since 21 April 2007, going unbeaten in eight visits since.

West Ham United will therefore hope a change in home ground will result in a change in fortune!


3. Absent friends

Slaven Bilic faces a selection headache on Saturday, with no fewer than seven senior players unavailable. Andy Carroll, Pedro Obiang, Gokhan Tore, Angelo Ogbonna and Michail Antonio are all injured, while Mark Noble and Sam Byram are suspended.

With Winston Reid returning and Diafra Sakho available, Bilic may be tempted to go with three centre-backs, considering the personnel at his disposal. However, with Everton certain to play with Romelu Lukaku as a lone striker, that system may not be his preferred option.

With Byram out, Cheikhou Kouyate could move to right-back, but Noble’s absence will make Bilic loathe to move the Senegalese out of midfield. So, if Bilic goes with a flat back four, Havard Nordtveit could start at right-back.


Adrian or Darren Randolph?
4. A change between the sticks?

Slaven Bilic has been asked this week if he is considering making a switch in goal, following Darren Randolph’s difficult afternoon at Sunderland last weekend.

Having already swapped his Premier League stopper once this season, replacing Adrian with Irishman Randolph following the Spaniard’s mistake in the 1-1 draw with Stoke City at London Stadium in November.

The manager insists one bad game does not make a bad goalkeeper, but the very fact that he has done it once means it would not be a total shock if he opted to make a change between the sticks against Everton.

Adrian, of course, has great memories of his gloveless penalty shootout success against the Blues back in January 2015, so facing Romelu Lukaku and company would certainly hold no fears for the former Betis man.


5. The magical 40 points

Victory on Saturday would take West Ham to the mythical, magical 40-point mark and surely mean the Hammers will be playing Premier League football next season.

Swansea City can reach 43 points if they win all five of their remaining fixtures – but they face Manchester United and Everrton – while Hull can get to 45 and Bournemouth to 50, with all three still to face bottom side Sunderland during the run-in.

However, the likelihood of all three, plus Middlesbrough, Crystal Palace and Burnley, all passing the 40-point barrier, is remote.

Indeed, the bookmakers make the Hammers a 100/1 shot to go down, and those odds would lengthen considerably if Slaven Bilic’s team beat Everton.