Everton vs. West Ham: Complete English Premier League Preview
Despite the current whirlwind of attention surrounding David Moyes, Manchester United's newly appointed manager now has to deflect the intense media glare and steer his current Everton side through their final two games.
Visiting Goodison Park amid the commotion is Sam Allardyce's West Ham, hoping to maintain their current residence inside the Premier League's top 10.
The Toffees are currently five points ahead of seventh-placed Liverpool, and staying above their near-neighbours is the only objective left for them this season, with fifth now realistically out of reach.
Form and Previous Meetings
After a flawless league campaign in March, Everton's form has slowed as of late, but the Toffees have still collected a respectable tally of nine points from their previous six games.
Winning has been the primary issue for West Ham, with four draws accompanying a win and a loss in their previous six fixtures.
Head-to-head, Everton are unbeaten in their past 10 clashes with the Hammers, with six wins and four draws since an away defeat back in 2007.
However, in recent meetings the Toffees have found it harder to dispose of the Londoners at home than away, with three of the past four matches at Goodison Park ending in a draw.
Team News and Key Players
There hasn't been any indication of fresh injury concerns at Everton, so other than Phil Neville, Moyes has an entirely fit roster to choose from for his final home game at Goodison Park.
George McCartney and James Tomkins are likely to remain West Ham's only absentees, with Allardyce also fortunate his squad has a relatively clean bill of health.
Everton have been completely bullied by physical forwards this season, conceding an alarming 39 percent of league goals from headers, a remarkable 11 percent more than any other Premier League side. That's why Andy Carroll will be pivotal for the visitors, as an imperious display could well leave the Toffees' back four reeling.
For that reason, Phil Jagielka will be key for the home side. The new club captain has been exceptional this season and will need to be at his very best again to thwart an in-form Carroll.
Potential Starting XIs
Moyes could well stick with the same personnel that secured a point against Liverpool last week at Anfield.
The sentimental side of him may consider giving Tony Hibbert a run out and there is certainly an argument for giving Ross Barkley some more experience now that the season is almost irrelevant, perhaps in place of Leon Osman.
Victor Anichebe hasn't scored for four games now, which may mean Nikica Jelavic is rotated back into the starting lineup, while Marouane Fellaini could drop back into midfield.
After a goalless draw against Newcastle, Allardyce will be tempted to add more firepower to his lineup.
What's your prediction?
Joe Cole was on the bench for that match and should come into contention, as may Mark Noble and Jack Collison. Ricardo Vaz Te and Gary O'Neil are perhaps the most vulnerable starters from that Newcastle game.
With a lot of distractions around Goodison Park, West Ham should come out of the blocks firing, hoping to capitalise on any potential vulnerability.
A fiery half-time team talk from Moyes may then do enough to rouse his troops enough to get a point, but possibly not the win, as this fixture's recent trend of draws has the potential to continue.
Statistics via EPL Index
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