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Everton vs West Ham: The Opposition View

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We spoke to Hammers fan Dan Coker ahead of Saturday’s crucial clash at Goodison

Everton v West Ham United - Premier League
West Ham beat Everton 3-1 at Goodison Park last season
Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Getty Images

Everton welcome West Ham United to Goodison Park on Saturday lunchtime, with manager Marco Silva under extreme pressure after four consecutive league defeats.

Silva himself has described the clash with the Hammers as a ‘must-win’, and has reportedly been given the next three games to save his job.

While Everton languish in the relegation zone, West Ham have enjoyed a far better start to the season, and sit in eighth with 12 points.

Though, Manuel Pellegrini’s side have not won any of their three games in all competitions since beating Manchester United last month, including a 4-0 EFL Cup drubbing at Oxford United and a late home defeat to Crystal Palace.

Prior to Saturday’s game, we spoke to Dan Coker, Hammers fan and writer at West Ham Till I Die:

RBM: Firstly, how much would you say West Ham have improved on last campaign in the opening eight games of this season?

Dan: The most obvious improvements from the first eight games of last season to the first eight of this campaign are our points total and the quality of football. We were pointless and rock bottom after four games of 2017/18 but have managed to pick up points early on this season. This has been particularly impressive considering the dreadful start to the season, the 5-0 home defeat to Manchester City. They can do that to any team but our confidence could have folded in the wake of that – we’ve recovered well. Some of the football we played at home against Norwich was fantastic and the goal we scored against Crystal Palace came at the end of a sumptuous move which would have been shown on repeat for months if a Guardiola team had scored it. What we lacked last season, and what we need to show this season, is greater consistency in performances and results.

West Ham United v Manchester United - Premier League
West Ham have started this season promisingly
Photo by Rob Newell - CameraSport via Getty Images

RBM: After a tenth-placed finish in his first season, and a solid start to this year, what is the general consensus among West Ham fans about the job Pellegrini is doing?

Dan: I think we’re very pleased. We had a difficult transition to our new home, on and off the pitch, but Pellegrini has recorded our first top-half finish since the move and has got us playing better football than we were in the brief period we had under David Moyes – having said that, Moyes did a good job for us and did what he was brought in to do. Pellegrini’s biggest strength so far has been his performance in the transfer market – bringing in players like Anderson, Haller and Yarmolenko has improved us, while Fabianski and Balbuena have been real bargains. He has shipped out most of the dead wood – players who were on big money (Hernandez), were too often injured (Carroll) or just didn’t show enough commitment (Arnautovic) and the squad seems to be a lot happier as a result.

RBM: Andriy Yarmolenko, who scored against Everton for Dynamo Kiev and twice against us last season, has already netted three times this season having not previously played since last October due to an Achilles tear.

Have you been surprised by how much of an impact he’s had since returning from such a serious injury?

Dan: Not really. He’s obviously a very talented player who we were really unlucky to lose for so much of last season. He has a goal in him and we always have that threat with him on the pitch – it’s just a wonder teams still allow him to get the ball on that devastating left foot!

Everton FC v FC Dynamo Kyiv - UEFA Europa League Round of 16
Everton have been aware of Yarmolenko since his Dynamo Kiev days
Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images

RBM: Similarly, Everton had been linked with Sébastien Haller, who already has four goals since his summer move to West Ham. How much of a difference has he made to the team?

Dan: At the risk of tempting fate, the main difference he’s made is that he’s a striker who’s available to play – and a quality one at that. We’ve had such bad luck with centre-forwards, going back to Dean Ashton, that we don’t tend to count our chickens when it comes to strikers at West Ham! Carroll was an asset on his day but wasn’t available enough; Arnautovic was converted to a striker by Moyes but had his head ultimately irreversibly turned by China; Hernandez was just never a striker who could play up top on his own. Haller is strong, can hold the ball up, brings others into the game, is good in the air and makes the right sort of runs to pick up tap-ins in and around the six-yard box. We’ve been impressed so far – hopefully he can stay fit!

RBM: Given West Ham’s two league defeats this season have both come at home, as well as the unrest among Everton fans at the moment, do you think this game could suit them better as the away side?

Dan: Possibly but it’s always difficult for us to get anything at Goodison Park. There was a long spell when we only won there once every 11 years – in 1972, 1983, 1994, 2005 and 2016 – before our win on the blue side of Stanley Park last season gave us a welcome end to that particular run. We’ve had moments in our away games this season where things could have gone the other way – VAR disallowing a Brighton goal, Will Hughes missing an open goal before we went 2-1 up at Watford, Callum Wilson squandering a one-on-one before we equalised at Bournemouth. We’ve teetered on the edge a bit in our away games but come out with results and points, which is very un-West Ham! If a team ever needs a result though, or a striker needs a goal, West Ham often turn up and oblige – hopefully Pellegrini can help us move away from that though!

Everton FC v West Ham United - Premier League
Pellegrini (right) could heap more pressure on Silva (left) at Goodison on Saturday
Photo by Arfa Griffiths/West Ham United FC via Getty Images

RBM: With goalkeeper Łukasz Fabiański sidelined with a hip injury, summer signing Roberto has featured in West Ham’s last three games. Have his performances done much to inspire confidence?

Dan: I’m not sure he’s inspired confidence but he’s done OK. Fabianski’s are big gloves to fill so it’s a tall order for our Adrian replacement to step up but he’ll get our support. He didn’t have the best of nights at Oxford and was largely blameless against Palace, a dodgy kick before their second goal aside, but did make a good block from Wilson at Bournemouth which allowed us to go down the other end, score and nick a point.

RBM: How do you expect West Ham to set up on Saturday?

Dan: Roberto in goal; back four of Fredericks, Diop, Ogbonna and Cresswell; Rice holding midfield; Yarmolenko, Noble, Lanzini and Anderson as a four behind Haller.

Aston Villa v West Ham United - Premier League
Youngster Declan Rice has established himself as a mainstay in West Ham’s side
Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

RBM: Which of West Ham’s players do you think could cause Everton the most problems?

Dan: Hopefully Anderson can capitalise on Coleman’s suspension and have an influential game on the left. Yarmolenko seems to enjoy playing against the Toffees in the same way Lukaku used to love playing us. Haller will hope to give Michael Keane a tough afternoon. Lanzini’s had a really good start to the season too having been another who missed much of last season with a serious injury.

RBM: Finally, what’s your prediction for Saturday’s game?

Dan: The form book suggests I should be optimistic but Goodison has never been a happy hunting ground for us and I’m a realist by nature. My prediction will be a 2-0 Everton win – but I hope for better.

Our thanks to Dan for his time.