Everton vs West Ham predictions: Hammers hoping to build momentum
Everton and West Ham have made stuttering starts to the season and will be eager to get a much-needed win on the board when they clash at Goodison Park on Sunday.
This fixture will stir the emotions of opposing managers Frank Lampard and David Moyes, with both having broken into the big time while at the clubs they are now trying to defeat.
While at West Ham, current Everton manager Lampard rose through the academy and all the way into the England team.
Opposite number Moyes enjoyed some of his finest managerial moments with the Toffees, having led Everton to a fourth-placed finish in 2004-05.
Both have experienced sobering starts to the 2022-23 campaign, however, with West Ham and Everton each struggling to escape the lower reaches of the Premier League.
And in the unforgiving environment of top-flight football, neither manager will have any room for sentiment — both would happily get one over a fondly-remembered former club in order to relieve the pressure that is building in their current post.
Everton have struggled with injuries throughout Lampard’s eight-month tenure and the Toffees manager was hit with another blow a fortnight ago when goalkeeper Jordan Pickford was ruled out until after the international break with a thigh injury, so Asmir Begovic will take his place.
Pickford joins centre-backs Mason Holgate (knee), Ben Godfrey (fractured fibula) and Yerry Mina (ankle) on the sidelines, while winger Andros Townsend remains out following his anterior cruciate ligament injury in March.
In better news for Lampard, central midfielders Abdoulaye Doucoure and new signing James Garner have both recovered from injury and there is an outside chance that striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin could also return from the knee injury that has kept him out all season so far.
Moyes has fewer injury problems, with defensive pair Nayef Aguerd and Ben Johnson his only absentees.
However, the West Ham manager may be concerned about fatigue within his squad.
Key players Declan Rice, Vladimir Coufal, Thilo Kehrer and Lucas Paqueta all started away in Denmark on Thursday night in the Hammers’ Europa Conference League clash against Silkeborg and Moyes will be tempted to again shuffle his pack to keep players fresh.
West Ham did the double over Everton last season, with their 1-0 victory on Merseyside making it three wins in their last four league trips to Goodison Park.
That away day success made up part of the Hammers’ impressive run of results when visiting the Premier League’s lesser teams, with Moyes’ men winning seven of their 10 trips to opponents who finished in the bottom half, losing only one such encounter.
And while Everton were not usually pushovers on home soil last term — the Blues beat Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United at Goodison and held Tottenham to a 0-0 draw — Lampard was playing a more compact, defensive style as he focused on survival rather than implementing his favoured high-pressing approach.
That more conservative system saw Everton concede only 1.44 expected goals a game in 2021-22 — a mid-table level of defensive performance — but this season they are conceding an average of 1.78 expected goals per game, making them second only to Nottingham Forest in terms of shutting out opposition chances.
Neither team is likely to be at their best for this match and not just because the pair are struggling for form in the Premier League.
West Ham have had little time to prepare due to their European commitments, while for Everton, the loss of Pickford and several defensive players further undermines a back line that has struggled to keep opponents quiet.
The potential return of Calvert-Lewin may encourage supporters but in reality, the striker will need time to get up to full speed following such an extended absence.
More important is the Toffees’ midfield make-up and Lampard must decide whether to trust his high press to come good or instead shut up shop by playing a couple of deep-lying defensive midfielders.
The former would seem a dangerous option against a West Ham side who may have struggled to find their shooting boots this term but remain one of the most effective counter-attacking teams in the Premier League.
Moyes’ men have also tightened up considerably since their sloppy start to the season and will be confident of holding firm against a toothless Toffees side.
With the Hammers boasting the direct passing ability to cut through an often open Everton midfield, it would be no surprise if the East Londoners earned a fourth win in five league trips to Goodison.