Everton return to action in the Premier League this afternoon at Goodison Park against West Ham United, and Frank Lampard will be hoping that his team can pick up their first league win of the season after going unbeaten with draws in their last four games.
The Toffees lost twice to their opponents when they met last season, although David Moyes’ side have found themselves in a poorer state of form than Everton over the current campaign so far and currently sit 18th in the table.
As a result, Lampard must do everything he can to capitalise on West Ham’s struggles by deploying the best threat to the visitors later today, but he will be without one of their standout performers.
Jordan Pickford picked up a thigh injury in the Merseyside derby after being named Man of the Match for his outstanding performance against Liverpool, with the goalkeeper joining Ben Godfrey, Yerry Mina, Mason Holgate and Andros Townsend on Everton’s injury list.
Despite Pickford’s absence, there is a silver lining for Lampard as Abdoulaye Doucoure and Dominic Calvert-Lewin returned to full team training last week and could be in contention to start against the Hammers, alongside the now match-fit James Garner.
With all considered, this is how Football Fancast expects Everton to line up against West Ham…
We expect to see just two changes from the team which started against Liverpool, with one very important returnee in the middle of the park.
With Pickford injured, we expect that Asmir Begovic will take the starting role as Everton’s number one whilst the England goalkeeper recovers, while Lampard will be hoping that both James Tarkowski and Conor Coady can continue their solid defensive partnership to give the second in command ‘keeper the cover that he needs.
The only tactical change we expect to see in the starting line-up is the return of Doucoure in place of Tom Davies alongside Amadou Onana and Alex Iwobi, who both retain their starting positions in the midfield three.
We expect Lampard to shake things up in the middle of the park by ditching the £32k-per-week Davies to inject a proven attacking threat into the midfield and give better support to Neal Maupay so that the Toffees can squeeze as much creativity and goalscoring opportunities as possible out of the game ahead.
Doucoure scored two goals, delivered four assists and created three big chances over 30 league appearances last season, along with making 2.5 tackles and one clearance per game, proving that he can offer both assistance with the defensive play and could give more support to the attack.
Although we don’t predict that Calvert-Lewin or Garner will start, it would not be surprising to see both players coming off the bench, especially if the Toffees are chasing a goal for a win or needing some fresh legs in midfield.