Everton will be looking to increase the pressure on the sides above them this weekend as they travel to face West Ham United at the London Stadium.
Four of the top six will be in FA Cup final action, which provides the hosts with an opportunity to close the gap on the sides above them. A win on Saturday will lift them to 5th in the table for the time being at least and it will further increase the gap that they have over the rest of the league.
Although West Ham are nearly safe, they will be looking for a strong performance after a string of poor displays during recent weeks. After a superb first season under Slaven Bilic, this has been a campaign to forget for the Hammers.
It was meant to be one of progression as they moved to the London Stadium and started the season in the Europa League. However, it quickly turned to disaster and the sale of Dimitri Payet in January underlined that the club weren’t going to push on any further.
Regardless of the long-term future of their manager, this summer will require another rebuild in East London.
On the other hand, Ronald Koeman has enjoyed a superb first season at Goodison Park and he has made Everton the best team outside the top six. They could yet finish in the top six, while a Europa League spot looks all but confirmed.
There were eyebrows raised at a lot of the transfer business they did last summer, but it has paid off, with the capture of Idrissa Gueye being particularly impressive.
They will look to finish the season strongly and carry the positive momentum gained into the summer.
After a run of five straight Premier League defeats, West Ham have taken four points from their last two matches to decrease fears of relegation. However, their performance against Sunderland last weekend suggested that there were still problems to address on the pitch.
The Toffees have won four of their last six league matches, scoring 16 goals in the process.
They have been on fire at Goodison Park and they will expect to score more goals this weekend as Romelu Lukaku pushes on for the golden boot.
However, their away form hasn’t been as good. In fact, they haven’t won on their travels since the end of January and that should provide West Ham with a lot of confidence.
Havard Nordtveit could be the player to come in at right back to replace the suspended Sam Byram, while Diafra Sakho is likely to come in from the cold to start up front.
For the visitors, it is difficult to see Ronald Koeman making any changes after another dominant home performance against Burnley.
West Ham Everton
Andy Carroll and Michail Antonio will both miss out with groin and hamstring injuries respectively.
Winston Reid could be back in contention after recovering from a groin injury.
However, Pedro Obiang, Angelo Ogbonna and Gokhan Tore will all be on the sidelines.
Meanwhile, Sam Byram will be missing through suspension.
Muhamed Besic and Aaron Lennon are bout doubts for this weekend, while Ramiro Funes Mori, Seamus Coleman, James McCarthy and Yannick Bolasie remain out injured.
Match Prediction: West Ham 1-3 Everton
Everton have struggled on their travels recently, but West Ham continue to underperform on a weekly basis.
Those three points against Swansea City are looking valuable now as without them, the Hammers could be in real danger of getting relegated.
The Toffees should take the three points this weekend as it is difficult seeing the West Ham defence stopping the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley.
This summer is going to be a massive one for the London club and they may need to part ways with popular manager Slaven Bilic.
Sam Allardyce deserves credit for Cenk Tosun treatment
The Turkish international has four goals in his last three games.
Everton can now start building for next season, with the win v Stoke City this weekend. Despite their early season woes, Everton have survived, with the 2-1 win against the Potters Everton have moved to the traditionally safe 40 point mark. One man who is also finally finding his feet at Everton is Turkish striker Cenk Tosun. He scored both of Everton’s goals in the important win.
Signed from Besiktas in January the Turkish international was sidelined by Sam Allardyce early on at Goodison Park. Tosun, who according to Sky Sports cost £27 million, was often named among the substitutes with Oumar Niasse preferred up front. Allardyce explained he was easing Tosun into life in the Premier League, much to the annoyance of some Everton fans.
However, it appears to have worked. Speaking after the game yesterday Allardyce had this to say about his striker:
“The confidence he has gained now from us taking him out early doors [has helped], when everyone was saying ‘you’re not playing him’ – you know, the usual rubbish you get from outside the football club. But, of course, they don’t know. I do, they don’t. We wanted to get him fitter and more used to the players he was playing with.”
It has to be said, Allardyce might be right. Tosun has been brilliant in recent weeks. Adding to his two goals against Stoke the 26-year-old has scored in the recent defeat v Burnley and win against Brighton. Tosun, who scored eight times in 16 league games for Besiktas this season, is finally finding his feet.
Allardyce’s plan all along was to ensure Tosun did not have a struggle early on. If Tosun had been thrown into the first-team, which was playing poorly, with immediate effect it could have been detrimental.
One game without a goal becomes two, then three, then four and so on. Instead Everton ensured that Tosun was comfortable in the team set-up and fit for Premier League action.
Now they are reaping the benefits with Tosun in fine goalscoring form.
If he can keep up his current form it will not be a surprise if he manages to find his way to double figures for Everton this season. That would be a phenomenal feat and one which would certainly validate Big Sam’s often criticised decision.
Everton have found their Romelu Lukaku successor in Cenk Tosun
The Turkish international has now scored four goals in his last three matches.
Cenk Tosun arrived at Everton with a big reputation after performing well for Besiktas in the Champions League.
The striker scored four times and contributed two assists during the group stages of the competition. It was hoped that he could be the player to fill the Romelu Lukaku shaped hole at Goodison Park after he joined for £27 million.
The 26-year-old didn’t make an immediate impact in England, failing to score in his first four matches and found himself out of the starting eleven for a period.
Sam Allardyce remained committed to his big money signing in public, but said that he would remain on the bench until Everton were safe, as shown by this quote reported by the Liverpool Echo:
“He is struggling with the pace of the Premier League which happens to more players than it doesn’t to who come in in January,”
“There are more that struggle than actually succeed. As time goes on and the more we get closer to our safety the more we can release and see what he’s got.”
The manager was true to his word and as the club has moved closer to survival, he has given more minutes to his big-money striker.
It seemed fitting that it was Tosun that scored the goals to take the club to 40-points with a victory over Stoke City on Saturday. There was never any real threat of the Toffees getting relegated, but it will be a relief now they have got to that points mark.
Everton had a one-man advantage for the majority of the match against Stoke City after a first-half red card was given to Charlie Adam. Even after the dismissal, it was a hard-fought game and the visitors didn’t have it all their own way. They didn’t get their first goal until the second-half and it came as a result of a goalmouth scramble.
Tosun showed good anticipation and composure to give his side a lead. His first effort was saved and another shot came in from a team-mate before it fell at his feet to finish the move. It wasn’t the most beautiful goal, but it will be a pleasing one for the striker as he was in the right place at the right time.
It was his second that was a more technical goal as he diverted a diving header past Jack Butland to secure the three points for Everton. He wouldn’t have had the confidence to score it earlier in his Everton career, but it is clear that he is finding himself at Goodison Park and is now offering the threat that he did in Turkey.
The Turkish international has now scored four goals in his last three matches and he is ready to finish the season with a flourish.
Although Everton now have little to play for, it is important that Tosun does adjust to English football ahead of next season. If he didn’t, it would leave the club with a problem over the summer as they would need to decide whether to stick or twist with their striker.
Now, that doesn’t seem like it will be an issue. Everton supporters shouldn’t get too excited, but Tosun has shown during the last few weeks that he has the ability to be Romelu Lukaku’s replacement at the club. He has good awareness in the final third and a goal-scorer’s instinct that could see him score 15 or more Premier League goals every season.
Jack Wilshere’s Everton arrival would surely spell the end for Morgan Schneiderlin?
The Everton midfielder has been a source of frustration at Goodison Park.
The Times has reported this weekend that Everton could be willing to pay a fee of £8 million in order to secure the signature of Jack Wilshere in the summer. That would be in the form of a lucrative signing-on fee to convince him that he should leave his boyhood club.
Wilshere has been offered a new deal at the Emirates Stadium, but it involves a pay-cut. The 26-year-old is said to not be interested in such a deal and could leave Arsenal this summer.
Everton would be a perfect location for the England international but for one Toffees player, it would surely spell the end.
Morgan Schneiderlin has had a troubled time since joining Everton.
The January 2017 signing from Manchester United had an excellent start to life at Goodison Park. However, this season he has been poor and become extremely unpopular with club’s fans.
Considering Ronald Koeman and Steve Walsh sanctioned a £22 million move, as reported by the BBC, for the French international, it has not been money well spent.
Wilshere’s signing would undoubtedly spell the end for the Frenchman. However, the reality is, regardless of Wilshere’s potential arrival, Everton should consider moving Schneiderlin on this summer.
His position at the club is looking increasingly untenable. Fans would rather see youngsters like Tom Davies, Callum Connolly, Beni Baningime or currently loaned out Mo Besic get a chance ahead of the 28-year-old.
If Everton can recoup the fee they spent on Schneiderlin it would be good business from the Toffees.
Wilshere’s arrival would be welcomed, but replacing Schneiderlin with any talented midfielder should be a priority for Everton if they are to improve on their performance from this season in 2018/19.
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