West Ham travel to Goodison Park on Saturday in the hope of extending their unbeaten run to six matches and ending a seven-year barren spell against Everton.
The high-flying Hammers have failed to beat the Toffees in their last 13 encounters, with their last victory coming way back in 2007. But if they emerge triumphant from Merseyside, beating Roberto Martinez’s side at their own game, the reinvented West Ham will be providing another big statement of their credentials.
Sam Allardyce’s outfit have enjoyed their joint-best start to a Premier League campaign, sitting pretty in fourth place with 18 points from eleven matches. Everton, however, have looked sluggish in comparison to last term, only managing to win three games so far – only one of these was at home.
West Ham could be without four key players for this tough encounter. Stewart Downing and Diafra Sakho both picked up injuries while on international duty and may not be fit enough to start, which would be a huge loss considering how influential the two have been this season.
Furthermore, Enner Valencia and Winston Reid also suffered setbacks while playing for their respective countries and they are also doubts for Everton.
This provides a major headache for Allardyce and will be a real test of his side’s strength-in-depth, which has been talked up a lot over the course of the campaign.
Everton have a long injury list themselves and up to ten players could be out, including Leighton Baines, James McCarthy and Gareth Barry. While Seamus Coleman, Steven Pienaar and Kevin Mirallas will be assessed prior to the game.
CARROLL MUST START
With Sakho likely to miss the match and Valencia a doubt, Andy Carroll should surely be handed his first start of the season. The striker played and scored in a behind-closed-doors match with Fulham over the international break and will be thriving to get back in the action following his recovery from ankle surgery.
Carroll would be able to wreak havoc on an Everton defence that conceded 16 goals in their opening seven matches, the Toffees have, though, let in just two in their last four Premier League outings. But considering they could be forced to make several changes at the back it would be the perfect match for Carroll to return.
The game will be won or lost in the midfield and West Ham are certainly stronger in that department this season. Alex Song, Cheikhou Kouyate and Mark Noble are a formidable force across the centre of the park and with Everton struggling with injuries it will be extremely tough for them to get a hold of the game.
Also, being possibly without their two full-backs, Coleman and Baines – arguably the best pairing in the league last season – Carl Jenkinson and Aaron Cresswell will perhaps be free to bomb forward more and help provide Carroll opportunities.
If the Hammers are to end their barren run against Everton now would be the perfect time for them to do it.
Predicted West Ham XI
Adrian, Jenkinson, Reid, Collins, Cresswell; Noble, Song, Kouyate, Amalfitano; Valencia, Carroll
Everton 1-2 West Ham