West Ham are on a 3 game winning streak. It sounds nice doesn’t it? It’s the sort of thing I could get used to. Being a lifelong fan however has taught me that we’re just as likely to get an absolute battering as we are to continue our winning ways.
That being said, our next victims/conquers are Everton. Our last trip to Goodison Park was highly eventful with the Toffees taking a comfortable 2-0 lead, despite being down to 10 men, before Slav’s side stepped up and scored 3 goals in the final 12 minutes of the game to gain the 3 points.
We asked our sister-site and Everton blog Royal Blue Mersey a few questions ahead of Sunday’s clash and Calvin answered the call.
What's a successful season for Everton?
A spot in European football at the very least. We are well aware that this is a rebuild season with Ronald Koeman just coming on board this summer. The good start early probably deceived us a bit that we're ready to be in the top six again, but we've since come back down to earth.
With the new ownership and Ronald Koeman now in place, where do you see Everton in 5 years?
If you take a look at Tottenham over the last five years, that is a good model for Everton to follow. Consistently finish in the top six, build a squad with plenty of depth, bring on young players from the Academy, and challenge for a Champions League spot on a regular basis.
That would be a good platform to develop on and eventually get to the position where we can finally go looking for the keys to the hardware cabinet which we haven't bothered to open since 1995.
Just how good is Ross Barkley? How far can he go?
Ross Barkley is a very frustrating player. There are oodles of talent there, it is quite visible. However, he just can't seem to find any consistency in his game. He wants to be an attacking midfielder, yet doesn't put in the workrate required of that position. With how Koeman wants this team pressing, he's going to have to get better pretty quickly because the manager's patience is wearing thin.
He can go as far as he wants and is willing to work for. That there is the issue, as he is his own limiting factor. Fans have been happy to give him multiple chances to show what he's made of, but right now at this point, he barely deserves to start.
How would you rate your summer and what are the priorities in January?
Koeman is slowly building a team in the mold he has laid out, but wasn't able to get all the players he wanted in the summer transfer window. Players like Yannick Bolasie and Idrissa Gueye have added steel to the backbone of the side, while Ashley Williams has brought in some much-needed defensive solidity which was badly lacking in previous years.
More depth all over the pitch would be the biggest requirement in January. A young goalkeeper who will be the future starter, some speed and talent at the fullback positions, creativity in the attacking midfield areas and a quality backup to Romelu Lukaku in front of goal.
Who are the players we should be looking out for most on Sunday?
Gueye was Man of the Match for multiple early games as his tackling and ball interception skills have shone. Watch for him to shadow Dimitri Payet for long periods on Sunday. Bolasie's hard-running and wily passing has opened up opposing defences, so watch out for him to find openings where Lukaku can pop up, with the Belgian quite enjoying playing against the Irons in recent years.
What would be your West Ham/Everton combined XI?
Coleman Reid Williams Cresswell
Antonio Noble Gueye
Bolasie Lukaku Payet
Finally and most importantly, thoughts on Enner Valencia and the deal which took him to Goodison Park?
It did look very haphazard and last minute didn't it? Can't say it's really worked out either, he hasn't necessarily played any big minutes as Lukaku has played most of the games and the only times Valencia has been on is when the Blues are chasing an equalizer.
Seems like we may yet have to suffer the fate of Enner Valencia returning to West Ham. Damn.
Big thanks to Calvin and Royal Blue Mersey for answering our questions. We did the same thing on their blog with myself in the firing line. Make sure to go over there and check it out!