On Sunday West Ham will make the trip to the dreaded Goodison Park where we have only won twice since 2005. The season might still be young, but with West Ham rooted to the bottom of the Premier League and pointless, this is a must-win game for the Hammers already.
Meanwhile, Everton have started the season well, undefeated after four games, Toffees fans seem happy with their team in seventh position. Marco Silva has drawn early praise for getting the best out of Richarlison.
Ahead of Sunday’s crucial game we caught up with our sister site, Royal Blue Mersey for the Everton perspective on a massive game:
1. Richarlison has had a great start to the season and scored a great goal for Brazil. How does his suspension affect Everton’s chances of winning?
It clearly doesn’t help. He was brilliant for us against Wolverhampton and Southampton and adds the pace and trickery out wide that we desperately lacked last season. Bernard and Ademola Lookman are both good options to replace Richarlison, but neither are fully match-fit yet.
I have no idea who will play left-wing on Sunday, and it doesn’t help that Theo Walcott, who has played right-wing all season, could miss the game with a rib injury, either.
2. Given that David Moyes has his most successful spell at Everton, would you have him back if Marco Silva doesn’t work out?
Absolutely not. I didn’t have a lot of time for David Moyes because I found him an incredibly negative manager; his tactic for defending leads would often be to bring on an extra centre-back which backfired on numerous occasions, and his comments about Everton playing Manchester City being like taking a knife to a gunfight rightly irritated a lot of fans.
I feel in a way he’s in the same boat as Sam Allardyce with his defensive approach, if a lot more tolerable. But Everton would not get any closer to the top four under Moyes than they will with Marco Silva, or have done with Roberto Martinez and Ronald Koeman.
3. How do you feel about Wayne Rooney’s bright start to the MLS?
I’m pleased for him. It’s clear from the way Silva wants to play that Rooney just wouldn’t have the legs to suit the system; even under Allardyce last season it felt like Rooney was being played more because he’s Wayne Rooney, rather than because he could offer the team something.
The impact he’s had in the MLS so far has been brilliant; it’s been great to watch.
4. Hammers fans consider Everton to be a bogey team after some tough recent losses. How do Toffees fans perceive Sunday’s game?
There’s probably a quiet confidence among fans given West Ham’s dreadful start and because we’re usually strong at home. But with Richarlison, Seamus Coleman, and possibly Walcott and Idrissa Gueye unavailable, there’s maybe a little wariness, especially after how poor we were in the 1-1 draw at home to Huddersfield Town last time out.
5. Who is the West Ham player you are most keen to contain?
I would’ve said Manuel Lanzini if not for his knee injury, because he always plays well against us and I think he’s your best player. But with him out of Sunday’s game, probably Marko Arnautovic, who also has a decent record against us, and is clearly excellent technically.
Another I’d be nervous about is Andriy Yarmolenko, if only because he terrorised our defence for Dynamo Kiev in the Europa League in 2014/15. I’m aware he’s been benched for most of the season so far, though, so hopefully that continues this weekend.
6. Which Everton player are you hoping to carry the attack in the absence of Richarlison?
It’s hard to say because our list of absentees continues to grow. Richarlison has played on the left wing all season, and we don’t really have a natural ready-made replacement. Dominic Calvert-Lewin filled in there against Huddersfield but is clearly a striker, not a winger, and now looks a doubt for the game anyway.
In terms of who our most dangerous attacking player is, Gylfi Sigurdsson has begun the season better than most and I expect a big performance from him on Sunday.
7. What is your score prediction from Everton v West Ham?
I’m going to say 1-1, as I never feel confident about playing sides lower down the table – especially after that nightmare Huddersfield game – and because we’re missing too many crucial players. I also expect West Ham to have improved after a two-week break.
This is a must-win game for us, though, and I’d obviously be delighted to be proved wrong.