Everton get 2021 underway with a visit from David Moyes’ West Ham United at Goodison Park on New Year’s Day.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side were afforded a few days’ extra rest after their clash with Manchester City on December 28 was postponed, making this their first game since Boxing Day.
West Ham, meanwhile, played their third game in eight days on December 29; a 0-0 draw at Southampton.
Moyes’ side sit tenth in the Premier League but have stuttered lately, with one win in six seeing them fall from fifth place since the end of November.
RBM: Firstly, a year into his second spell at West Ham, how would you rate the job David Moyes had done?
Jacob: I think he’s done really well, first to stabilise a team that looked destined to go down, then to get them into mid-table this season. His signings have also worked out too: Tomas Soucek and Jarrod Bowen have made a big difference.
RBM: Considering West Ham spent much of last season fighting relegation, where do you think they have improved most this term?
Jacob: Defensively - they are harder to play against, and also more resilient.
RBM: Having been fifth at the end of November, West Ham have dropped to tenth after one win in six December games. Despite the recent slump, would a top-half finish still represent a successful season?
Jacob: Yes. The squad is still unbalanced and too short in certain positions.
RBM: Moyes was often depicted at Everton as an overly cautious manager, rightly or wrongly. Has that shown much during his time at West Ham, too?
Jacob: Occasionally, particularly in the harder away games. But also against Brighton at home last week [2-2 draw], when he picked an odd, defensive side.
RBM: Michail Antonio returned from injury in Tuesday’s 0-0 draw at Southampton as a late substitute. Having been developed as a striker under Moyes, what does he offer that West Ham have particularly missed lately?
Jacob: Pace, power, speed, intelligent link-up play, an outlet, a goal threat - all the things Sebastien Haller hasn’t been able to offer.
RBM: The Southampton draw was West Ham’s first clean sheet in seven games. Was there any noticeable change in approach from Moyes there, and do you think he should stick with this game plan on Friday?
Jacob: Not particularly. Craig Dawson did really well on his debut, though.
I’d imagine it will be a similar approach given Everton’s form, but there will be some changes to the team.
RBM: How do you expect West Ham to set up on Friday? Given that Southampton draw was their third game in eight days, do you expect Moyes to rotate here?
Jacob: Yes. If they’re fit we could see Vladimir Coufal, Fabian Balbuena and Bowen return.
RBM: Besides Antonio (if he plays), which of West Ham’s players do you think can cause Everton the most problems?
Jacob: Soucek with his height and ability to burst into the box, and Bowen with his speed, delivery and left foot.
RBM: Finally, what’s your prediction for Friday’s game?
Jacob: An Everton win!
Our thanks to Jacob for his time.