West Ham United Under-23s lead coach Dmitri Halajko has called on his side to deliver a complete performance when they travel to Everton on Monday evening.
The young Hammers collected their first three points of the season in their last Premier League 2 outing, a battling performance which bore a 2-0 win over Manchester United U23s at Rush Green a fortnight ago.
Having created plentiful chances in their outings prior to that first win, however, there remains plenty for Halajko’s team to draw encouragement from in the first half of the season.
Breaking down those performances, Halajko told whufc.com that a combination of their characteristics would give West Ham U23s the best possible odds of securing victory in Merseyside on Monday night.
He explained: “I think there are bits from the Manchester United performance that we need to take forwards – certainly the character and the personality we showed in that game – but then I also think there are bits from other games we want to apply as well.
“In the Liverpool game [a 4-2 home loss last month], the goals we scored were fantastic, and we played some great football on the ball that day.
“At Portsmouth [a 1-0 win at Fratton Park], we kept a clean sheet and it was a really firm display – we didn’t look like conceding.
“If we can put all of those elements from our recent games together into one performance, then it’ll be a really good one - and we know we have the ability to do that.”
As the season nears its halfway mark, Everton U23s – managed by former fans’ favourite player and Director of Academy, David Unsworth – sit in ninth position in Premier League 2, just six points ahead of the Hammers.
You don’t get four harder games [than we currently have], so that will be great for our learning and development and hopefully we’ll pick up some results
As with West Ham, Everton’s inconsistent results have belied occasionally strong performances, with the Toffees having defeated champions Chelsea 2-0 last month at Haig Avenue – home to Stockport FC, and the venue of Monday night’s game.
That victory was Everton’s only win in their last six matches in all competitions, with a number of tight scorelines going against them in a highly competitive league table.
For Halajko and West Ham U23s, therefore, the trip to Everton marks another huge moment in a challenging – but exciting – run of fixtures prior to this season’s festive break.
“The lads are looking forward to it,” Halajko confirmed.
“I don’t think you get a harder run of four fixtures than Manchester United, Peterborough United [in the Papa John’s Trophy], Man City and Everton – and both of those latter two away from home.
“You don’t get four harder games than that, so that will be great for our learning and development and hopefully we’ll pick up some results and put in some good performances as well.”
West Ham United U23s take on Everton U23s on Monday 14 December in Premier League 2. Kick-off is at 7pm; you can follow all the action with our live blog on whufc.com from 6.30pm.