We took a few minutes to trade questions and answers with Royal Blue Mersey and evertonchris was kind enough to answer our questions. See the BTH response to their questions over at the Everton blog for SBNation, Royal Blue Mersey.
Romelu Lukaku has scored every time he has played against West Ham for Everton. Can we finally stop the nine game run tomorrow? pic.twitter.com/vDIJyCLjw5— West Ham Photos (@whufcphotos) April 21, 2017
BTH: How many goals do you expect Romelu Lukaku to score against West Ham this weekend?
RBM: Well, the big Belgian has games of 2, 3, and 4 goals this season, so there doesn't seem like a number that would be out of the question given the instability of West Ham's back line. You might think that slower, more physical defenders have a shot against Lukaku since he's known for being burly, but the fact is he's just really freaking fast, too. If you saw his goal against Burnley last week, poor Michael Keane (a good defender!) got the entire Lukaku experience - backed into, shouldered off, and sprinted around. There's not a lot you can do. I'll say two goals.
BTH: Where do you expect Everton to finish this season, and if they pull off an unlikely, but still possible, run to the Champions League, does that keep Lukaku and Barkley at the club or does that mean that Koeman leaves for Barcelona?
RBM: Laughing at Arsenal is one of the few things that can bring the whole league together, and with that in mind, I think Everton finish sixth. They're in absolutely scintillating form, while the Gunners are...really, really not. Everton and Arsenal play the season's final game against each other, which could be the deciding factor in where each team joins the Europa League qualifying process.
A UCL run would certainly do wonders for keeping the big guns around. Both Barkley and Lukaku are seeking a higher level of football, be it at Goodison Park or elsewhere - they want the club's ambitions to match their own, which makes sense. As for Koeman, well, if Barcelona comes calling, I suspect he'll go no matter where Everton finish in the table.
Everton average a Premier League goal every 10 minutes with Enner Valencia on the pitch at Goodison Park in 2017. (10 goals in 102 minutes) pic.twitter.com/UnuuuHnoHg— Everton Blue Army (@EvertonBlueArmy) April 15, 2017
BTH: Enner Valencia won't be missed by most of the West Ham fans, but he's come on strong for the 2nd half of the season for Everton, with The Liverpool Echo pointing out that the team scores a goal every 15 minutes while he's on the pitch. Has Koeman worked some kind of spell on Valencia or is he just better as a super-sub?
RBM: Valencia fits exactly the profile that Everton need when they're chasing the game or need to break down a defense. He's direct, quick, and not afraid to put in a shot. Koeman usually inserts him just behind Lukaku, and the runs he makes in behind the defense open up all kinds of space for the Belgian to work. He's never going to be a regular starter on a team with Everton's ambitions, but the idea of activating the permanent sale clause in his loan deal is gaining serious steam.
BTH: Besides hanging on to some of your best players despite the constant speculation around their future, what does Everton need in the summer transfer window?
RBM: The biggest needs are a starting center back to play next to Ashley Williams, and competent fullbacks for the bench.
Williams has been good-to-great this year and looks set to start at least one more season, but Phil Jagielka is feeling his age, and Ramiro Funes Mori is good depth but nothing more. It's widely rumored that a deal for Michael Keane is nearly complete, and there's been a few rumblings of a bid for Virgil van Dijk, too.
Given Leighton Baines' age and Seamus Coleman's devastating injury, there are exactly zero backup fullbacks with any serious first team experience. Bryan Oviedo was sold to Sunderland, and Mason Holgate, while talented, is a CB by trade. Kieran Trippier and Cuco Martina are the names to watch at that position.
BTH: What is going on with the new Stadium for Everton? Are fans looking forward to the move, or do they see the disaster down in London as a cautionary tale of getting what you want not always working out?
RBM: Everton recently wrapped up a transaction that will see them take control of the Bramley Moore Docks in Liverpool. That's the confirmed site of the new ground, but beyond that, we don't have a lot of information.
Fans are cautiously optimistic. As you know, it's hard to move on from a famous old stadium, and the grass isn't always greener on the other side, be it with the atmosphere or the resulting financial situations. West Ham United have been the most prominent cautionary tale, particularly the other week when rumors of a running track were brought up.