West Ham travels to Liverpool on Wednesday night to face an Everton side that will no doubt be their hardest test in the League Cup so far.
Everton have had a much better start to the season than West Ham, winning all five games that they have played. To get the ‘Inside Track’ on the Toffees, GSH spoke to Matt Townsend of Everton fan site Prince Ruperts Tower.
1. Everton have started brilliantly this season, what has changed?
First, Carlo Ancelotti. Bringing in a manager of undoubted world-class credentials has transformed the profile and pulling power of the club.
Second, him getting in the players he wants. When he joined in December, he inherited Marco Silva’s team and many of those players especially in midfield were bang average. Now he’s brought in three excellent players that he knows and/or wanted and they have transformed the team’s engine room.
Third, James Rodriguez. The Colombian has added a new dimension to the team’s attacking quality.
Fourth, shifting to a 4-3-3. I’ve long thought that was the best formation to use and now Everton are lining up that way and it’s working very well maximising the effectiveness of the players, including some of those who were already in the squad.
2. How seriously are the Toffees taking the League Cup this year?
I think we’re taking every competition seriously and being out of Europe means that the domestic cups are even more important just to win some silverware again. Also, it’s the one trophy the Toffees haven’t won so would be nice to get that monkey off the back.
3. How good is James Rodriguez?
It’s early days, but so far, he’s been outstanding. He seems to have settled into the side and the Premier League incredibly well. His technical ability, flair and creativity is on another level to the sort of player we’ve had, probably on a different level to what most clubs in the league have to be honest. I thought it was a gamble signing him, happy to be proven wrong so far. I just hope he can stay fit!
4. What have you made of West Ham so far this season?
There seems to be a lack of direction and ambition at the club, maybe trying to do things in the cheap, which was highlighted this summer by letting Grady Diangara leave for West Brom. The Hammers were always a club that seemed to be well-run and had a constant conveyor belt of local talent but that seems to have dried up. And I don’t think they’ve ever really settled in the new stadium.
On the positive side, David Moyes does seem to be making a difference, the team’s form is improving and that was a very good win against Wolves at the weekend. West Ham, like Everton traditionally, always were a club that played good passing and attacking football.
Moye’s style is more direct, it worked for Everton fifteen odd years ago when we were most worried about relegation and simply had to survive but in the end, I think it only takes you so far. West Ham will want to consolidate and then try and move on from there.
5. Will Everton make any more signings?
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We need to get another centre-back in because of injuries to Holgate and Branthwaite, then maybe if we’ve shipped a few unwanted players out and there are enough funds there might be another attacking player, a wide player or striker but that’s far from certain.
6. Who worries you most in the West Ham line-up?
Michail Antonio and Jarrod Bowen are in good form and both look dangerous. I also thought Sebastien Haller would have a greater impact after he signed, he needs a big season this term I think for the Hammers to do well.
7. What football can west ham fans expect from Carlo Ancelotti?
Under the Italian, Everton have been much more solid and well-organised but now he has the quality grafted onto a disciplined side, the Blues are playing some really expansive attacking football.
I think Ancelotti will pick more of his first-choice side, Rodriguez might play as we’re getting into the serious end of the competition and expect Everton to have a lot of the ball and create plenty of chances. I would imagine there will be goals we don’t really do 0-0 draws now!
8. What weaknesses are there in the Everton side that West ham can exploit?
One area Everton are still really vulnerable is defending set-pieces, so that’s something West Ham are strong in and they could exploit it.
9. What is your match prediction?
I think Everton will win, the Blues have a great record against West Ham, but this will be a very good test of how far the Toffees have progressed under the new regime.
10. Score Prediction?
I’m going to say 3-1 Everton win but I’m not usually very good with predictions.