PREVIEW | EVERTON VS WEST HAM
After a two-week break due to the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, Everton return to action with a clash at home to West Ham United.
It seems a long time ago that the Toffees fought their way to a fully-deserved point in the Merseyside Derby and they will perhaps be secretly counting their blessings they don’t have to visit an in-form Arsenal just yet.
The pause has also reduced the number of games the Blues will be without injured key players Jordan Pickford, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Abdoulaye Doucoure.
Frank Lampard’s side will be hoping to record their first league win of the season in a match versus a West Ham side that have similarly struggled so far.
The Everton boss faces a selection headache when it comes to his midfield at the moment.
As touched upon before, Doucoure has been deemed available to play against the Irons after a month out with a hamstring injury.
However, it is unlikely the Malian will be thrust straight back into the starting XI as he comes up against stiff competition for a place in the Everton midfield.
Alex Iwobi is undoubtedly the first name on the team sheet at the moment amid speculation he will be handed the captain’s armband on Sunday in Pickford’s absence.
Similarly, Amadou Onana has impressed in his last few matches, particularly against Liverpool, so it seems likely he will also start against the Hammers.
The final place in the midfield three is a trickier one to predict but one would assume it will be Idrissa Gana Gueye, who if so will make his first Everton start in three years.
However, Lampard has plenty of other options at his disposal in Doucoure, Allan, Tom Davies and new signing James Garner.
One to watch – Nathan Patterson
Someone who has been winning the hearts and minds of Evertonians so far this campaign has been Nathan Patterson.
The right-back arrived from Rangers for £16m in January and appeared raw and far from first-team ready in one cameo appearance against Boreham Wood last season.
But injury to skipper Seamus Coleman during the off-season handed the Scot an opportunity to prove his worth and he has taken it with both hands.
Each performance has been better than the last and his attacking intent and tough tackling has already made him a fan favourite with a chant already drawn up in his name.
If he puts in a display like he did in the derby two weeks previously, that chant will undoubtedly be ringing around Goodison Park on Sunday.
One to watch – Said Benrahma
It hasn’t been the start to the season most West Ham fans would have anticipated their side making but one plus point has been the form of Said Benrahma.
The Algerian was heavily linked to Everton before swapping Brentford for the East End of London in the summer of 2020.
So far this season, he has troubled defences with his direct dribbling and chance creation, and it is assumed the goals and assists are just around the corner.
The Goodison faithful will be hoping that Sunday’s match won’t be the one in which they arrive.
The Toffees’ home record against West Ham in recent years has not been the best but David Moyes has so far struggled to get his side firing so far this campaign.
Both teams are desperate for three points to kickstart their season and it could very well end up coming down to who wants it the most on Sunday.
And with the newfound character in this Everton side over these last few months, they will fancy their chances.