Onto the hamster wheel of disappointment we go.
The Premier League is back after yet another international break but there appears to be precious little enthusiasm amongst Evertonians.
Toffees fans have been stewing on that defeat at Burnley for the past 14 days, a fourth successive loss that saw the club fall into the relegation zone. Not what we hoped for at the start of the season after yet another summer of heavy investment.
The growing sense of crisis has placed Marco Silva’s job under intense scrutiny.
The prospect of yet another managerial change is not a palatable one, but Silva’s apparent reluctance or inability to change means we could be heading in that direction.
Meanwhile, the fans have again been urged to ‘get behind the players’ and help dig the team out of another hole.
Those rallying cries have been met with a distinctly lukewarm reaction from a weary fanbase tired of constantly being let down. We have been asked to dig deep for years now, both financially and emotionally, only for it to be thrown back in our faces. Why should it be any different now?
The fans will return of course, we always do. But now it is the turn of the players to reward the supporters’ continued faith and loyalty.
To be fair to Silva, tot all of this is his fault. The failure to land a central defender to replace Kurt Zouma and an experienced, proven goalscorer has hamstrung the side, leading to Marcel Brands’ summer recruitment being put under the spotlight.
Silva has also been unlucky with injuries, with new midfield signings, Jean-Philippe Gbamin, Fabian Delph and Andre Gomes all suffering injuries at different stages of the campaign.
Gbamin’s latest setback, ruling him out for three further months, is a big blow as he was seen as Idrissa Gueye’s replacement and one that could unlock Silva’s supposedly preferred 4-3-3 formation. With Gbamin absent, we are likely to again see the much-maligned 4-3-2-1 set-up once more on Saturday. Get ready for the Twitter fume when the team drops.
Gylfi Sigurdsson has also been the subject of intense debate over the past fortnight, particularly on this site. There are plenty of supporters calling for the Icelander to be dropped, perhaps to facilitate a formation change. The stats meanwhile suggest he is still creating plenty of opportunities but our strikers are not finishing them off.
I think it is fair to say that we need to see more from Sigurdsson, but our shot-shy attack means even a change of personnel in midfield may not turn things around.
That increases the pressure on Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Moise Kean, who need to start scoring on a regular basis. That is a lot of responsibility to place on the shoulders of two young players, but we have little choice but to back them and hope for the best.
Manuel Pellegrini has quietly rebuilt West Ham into a side capable of challenging for the top six – if they shake off their nagging inconsistency.
The Hammers have won three, drawn three and lost two so far this campaign, with credible results against the likes of Manchester United countered by a disappointing defeat against Crystal Palace last time out and a 4-0 thrashing at Oxford United in the Carabao Cup.
However, they remain unbeaten in the Premier League away from home and can move as high as third with a victory at Goodison Park.
More than £75m was spent in the summer, including a club-record £45m deal to being in striker Sebastian Haller from Eintracht Frankfurt and £24m on Pablo Fornals from Villarreal.
They have won two of their previous four visits to Goodison, including a 3-1 victory last season. However, prior to that their trips to the blue half of Merseyside brought little more than disappointment, winning just one out of 19 visit stretching back to the mid-90s.
You won’t be surprised to hear therefore that West Ham are Everton’s favourite Premier League opponents, wining more games (25) and scoring more goals (83) against the Hammers than any other opponent.
A rare – but welcome – away day victory for Everton when the sides last met at the end of March. The Toffees were utterly dominant from start to finish and could have won by more, with early goals from Kurt Zouma and Bernard enough to earn the points.
Burnley (A) Lost 1-0
Manchester City (H) Lost 3-1
Sheffield Wed (A – Carabao Cup) Won 2-0
Sheffield Utd (H) Lost 2-0
Bournemouth (A) Lost 3-1
Crystal Palace (H) Lost 2-1
Bournemouth (A) Draw 2-2
Oxford Utd (A – Carabao Cup – Lost 4-0)
Manchester United (H) Won 2-0
Aston Villa (A) Drew 0-0
Everton will be without Jean-Philippe Gbamin for a further three months after he underwent surgery on a thigh injury. Andre Gomes could start though after returning to full fitness following a rib injury.
Fabian Delph is doubtful with a hamstring strain while Cenk Tosun misses out with a minor groin problem.
Seamus Coleman is suspended following his red card against Burnley last time out, meaning Djibril Sidibe is likely to make his first Premier league start.
What they said
Everton boss Marco Silva: “In the tough moments, react and put in more hard work and 100 per cent commitment. We have to be demanding of ourselves every single day.
“When you have tough moments as a football team – and this is a tough moment for us as a club and our fans – we have to do even more and then we will see [results] on the matchday.
“As a team we have to show more, that strong character and personality that will have us playing to our best level again – and achieving what we want in every single match.
“There are more points to win and we have to be really strong to win the next match – then the confidence will come again.
“In the tough moments, you can see the strong character… the strong personality. And how we can be strong as a team.”
West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini: “Everton is always a difficult team to play at Goodison Park and they have very good players. Last season we beat them there 3-1 in a moment that we were similar to they are now. But that was a different season and games are always different. I am absolutely sure that we are going to find an Everton with a high pace, trying to recover as soon as they can from the bad results they have had.
“It will be a very difficult game, it doesn’t matter if they are winning or losing their last games.”
Everton really do find themselves on the edge of a precipice. A fifth successive defeat is unthinkable and would surely mean the end of Marco Silva. Even a draw would do little to quell the murmurings of discontent.
We have all been here before of course, meaning even a victory would do little to convince me that things will improve in the long term.