West Ham’s FA Cup run gets off to a tough start as they prepare to visit Goodison Park on Tuesday evening to face Everton.
Both sides go into the third-round clash following their worst runs of form in the Premier League this season.
Sam Allardyce’s outfit, who were in the top four on Christmas Day, have lost twice and drawn once since which has seen them drop down to seventh. Everton, on the other hand, have not been in great form all season, but four defeats on the bounce is extremely poor and Roberto Martinez could make several changes.
The Hammers are keen to do well in the cup this season but the draw has not been kind to them. They have already lost at Everton in the league and Allardyce is expected to field a strong side to ensure that doesn’t happen again.
West Ham will be without Senegal forward Diafra Sakho and midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate, though, as they head off on international duty for the Africa Cup of Nations, while Alex Song could yet be a late call-up for Cameroon – all of whom are big losses.
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Enner Valencia is likely to start up front with Andy Carroll and Mark Noble should return to the starting lineup. Kevin Nolan could also come into the side.
Everton could recall both Romelu Lukaku and Samuel Eto'o up front but Antolin Alcaraz is suspended following his late red card at Hull. The dependable Tim Howard remains sidelined with a calf injury.
Goodison Park has never been a particularly happy hunting ground for West Ham over the years and Everton seem to relish the prospect of facing the east London outfit.
However, the Merseyside club are in rotten form and since beating the Hammers back in November they have lost six of their eight Premier League matches and in four of those games they have failed to find the net.
In contrast, West Ham have lost just two of their last eight and those were against Chelsea and Arsenal, which is hardly a disgrace.
The Irons can go into the encounter confident of progressing to the next round as Everton should be there for the taking. It is certainly a great time to play the Toffees but they will have to ensure they give them no encouragement.
WEST HAM: PREDICTED XI
Adrian, Jenkinson, Reid, Tomkins, Cresswell; Noble, Nolan, Amalfitano, Downing; Valencia, Carroll.
Everton 1-2 West Ham