Everton and West Ham will feel they have something to gain but much more to lose when they meet in the Premier League on Wednesday.
While a victory may alleviate the pressure until the next fixture comes around, defeat will almost certainly confirm either club as genuine relegation candidates this season. Usually, such must-not-lose encounters end in stalemates where both sides accept a point apiece.
So are we in store for a midweek draw, or is there evidence to suggest one side will be left bitterly disappointed? Here’s everything you need to know ahead of the 8pm kickoff…
Look away now, West Ham fans. From their 42 Premier League encounters to date, the Hammers have beaten the Toffees on just seven occasions. That includes an incredibly concerning run of just one victory since 2007, which came during Slaven Bilic’s first season in charge.
Furthermore, only three of those wins were at Goodison Park, where Wednesday’s visitors have produced a miserly 16 goals in their last 21 top flight outings. Accordingly, the Irons average less than one goal per game against Everton in the Premier League, have suffered three times the number of red cards and have kept just five clean sheets.
The Toffees will take huge confidence from their 62% win rate against West Ham on their own patch.
Michael Oliver’s presence on Wednesday night should probably concern West Ham more than the home side. Everton have produced more tackles and committed more fouls than the Hammers this season but Oliver has shown relative leniency on both fronts, ranking in the bottom half of the Premier League’s 18 referees for fouls per tackle and fouls per game.
Poor discipline, on the other hand, has already cost West Ham dearly at times this season – they’ve picked up the most yellow cards and second-most red cards of any Premier League side – and Oliver is one of the Premier League’s quickest to book those he deems as perpetrators. Clearly, the Irons will need to clean up their act or Oliver could prove to be a decisive factor in the match.
If there’s one positive for the visitors though, it’s that just 27% of the matches Oliver’s officiated this season have ended in home victories.
Facing an ever-expanding injury list and and a whole host of big names hopelessly out of form, David Unsworth will feel his hands are somewhat tied heading into Wednesday’s game.
Inevitably, the much-maligned Cuco Martina will likely be called upon to fill in for Leighton Baines after the left-back suffered an injury against Southampton, while Ashley Williams could start with Michael Keane also a doubt.
Further up the pitch, meanwhile, we’re predicting an entirely different front three from last time out, with Wayne Rooney, Sandro Ramirez and Nikola Vlasic starting ahead of Gylfi Sigurdsson in the No.10 role.
West Ham, meanwhile, aren’t expected to make too many changes from last time out when they pulled off a respectable draw against Leicester City.
With James Collins and Jose Fonte still out and Arthur Masuaku proving his deadliness further forward against the Foxes, David Moyes doesn’t have much to play with in regards to his backline.
Likewise, Andy Carroll remains the standout strike option in the absence of the injured Javier Hernandez, so the only expected change is Andre Ayew, who has grabbed the joint-most Premier League assists of any Irons player this season, taking the place of Marko Arnautovic who is a doubt for this one.