West Ham vs. Everton
Venue: London Stadium
Kick off: 4:30PM
West Ham United take on Everton in the Premier League today, with the hosts looking to maintain pressure on Leicester City and Chelsea in the Champions League qualification positions.
Everton’s own top-four aspirations appeared to come to a crashing end after the home defeat to Aston Villa last weekend, but Carlo Ancelotti will still be aiming to compete in Europe next season.
After two successive defeats to Newcastle United and top-four rivals Chelsea, West Ham bounced back with an impressive 2-1 win at Burnley on Monday.
David Moyes picked an unusually attacking side, with Manuel Lanzini handed a deep-lying midfield role alongside Tomas Soucek behind a front-line of Said Benrahma, Jesse Lingard, Pablo Fornals and the returning Michail Antonio.
After Chris Wood had converted a 19th-minute penalty having been fouled by Soucek, Antonio proved to be the difference-maker on the day for the Hammers.
The threatening forward equalised two minutes later by rising above Matthew Lowton to power a header past Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope, before sliding onto Benrahma’s fine cross to flip the first half on its head.
Moyes’s improving outfit dominated the proceedings on their way to a crucial victory, having 22 shots and 56 per cent possession across the 90 minutes as the 58-year-old’s bold lineup paid dividends.
They will desperately be hoping that Newcastle United and Manchester City can do them favours earlier in the weekend against Leicester and Chelsea respectively, with West Ham potentially requiring four wins from their final four games to retain a realistic chance of qualifying for the Champions League for the first time in the club’s history.
Moyes, of course, took Everton into the Champions League by finishing fourth with the Toffees in the 2004-05 campaign, albeit before disappointingly crashing out to Villarreal in the qualifying rounds in the subsequent season.
After winning their first four league matches this season, Everton fans were dreaming of competing at Europe’s top table once again, but an inconsistent home record appears to have put an end to those ambitions.
Indeed, last weekend’s 2-1 defeat to Villa was their eighth in 17 league matches at Goodison Park this season, which is in stark contrast to their extremely impressive record of 10 wins and three draws from 16 matches on the road.
The Blues had shown good spirit to level through Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s trademark header after Ollie Watkins had opened the scoring in an entertaining first half, but their lack of attacking quality or mental determination to find an important winner after the break was extremely disappointing.
Ultimately it was punished, too, by Anwar El Ghazi’s fine 80th-minute strike from distance. The loss leaves Ancelotti’s side in eighth place and nine points behind Chelsea, albeit with a game in hand, so a Europa League qualification position is about the best they can hope for, with a win against West Ham today a huge step towards achieving that.
West Ham possible XI: Fabianski, Coufal, Dawson, Diop, Cresswell, Soucek, Lanzini, Bowen, Lingard, Fornals, Antonio.
Everton possible XI: Pickford, Coleman, Keane, Godfrey, Digne, Doucoure, Allan, Gomes, Sigurdsson, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin.