Following the Birmingham postponement Everton head to Upton Park looking for consecutive victories in the Premier League for only the second time this season. Following a 3-1 win at Fulham on Boxing Day their opponents West Ham will be in buoyant mood which sets things up nicely….
West Ham Recent Form
The Hammers come off the back of an impressive win at local rivals Fulham and will be full of confidence going into this encounter. Their home form is pretty patchy befitting a side who have spent the bulk of the campaign at the bottom of the table. Thus far they have won 2, drawn 3 and lost 4 of their 9 home games. At the back they shown great naivety bordering on ineptitude with the worst defensive record in the league with 32 goals shipped already. Even with our poor strike rate we would have to fancy our chances of slotting at least once.
West Ham Strategy & Intel
West Ham have adopted a 4-2-3-1 system for the bulk of the campaign, with an occasional variance to 4-4-2 when in possession. In their last outing the Hammers played with Carlton Cole as the main target man with Freddy Piquionne playing less advanced and the attacking width supplied by Stanislas and Sears. Scott Parker and Radoslav Kovac provided the anchor function in midfield. In defence Danny Gabbidon and Tal Ben Haim, 2 centre backs by trade, occupied the fullback slots and whilst the Hammers looked fairly solid because of this, neither player provides a threat in the opposition half as say, Leighton Baines does for us. You can see from the Hammers most recent home game below, both fullbacks play withdrawn with neither player’s average position across the half way line.
Diagram A – West Ham average position from last home game – fullbacks number 3 & 20 have a limited attacking brief.
The Hammer’s recent home games have averaged 273 passes per game which is a fair bit below our season average passing per game marker of 350. Grant’s outfit play some decent stuff and will create opportunities, shown by the fact they are rated 8th in the Premier League’s table of shots per team. Their accuracy is poor however and they are ranked 19th in terms of shots on target with an accuracy of 34%. In comparison our average is around the 40% with Manchester United leading the way with an impressive 47%.
In Scott Parker they have a classic old school midfield general, equally adept at the defensive and attacking sides of the game. This is in contrast to the modern delineation in midfield duties between a defensive midfielder or the ‘Makelele’ role and the attacking midfielder whose role is to create like Arshavin. Parker is the Premier League’s top tackler with an impressive 61 tackles won this campaign. Going forward, he also has four goals and 2 assists to his credit. The below chalkboard shows his passing in the most recent home game. Notice how he travels all over the pitch which is a reflection of his box to box style.
Diagram B Scott Parker: Box to Box Midfielder
Everton strategy and approach
With Phil Jagielka and Steven Pienaar both back in contention we certainly have options in terms of selection. We have a great record at Upton Park with 4 consecutive wins with Louis Saha having a great record against the East Londoners with 5 goals in his last 4 outings against this opposition. I would expect us to face early pressure and we will need to quell this and impose our passing game as soon as possible. West Ham’s defenders are not the most comfortable on the ball, and I would expect us to attempt to capitalise on this by pressing high up the pitch. If we can do this well and dominate, I expect us to get a positive result
This will be an entertaining encounter with both sides liking to get the ball down and play. West Ham will give us time and space to play and this should give us the chance to go at them and get the 3 points. I’m going for a 2-1 victory for the Blues.