West Ham United-Everton Preview
Carlo Ancelotti says Everton have not abandoned their principles, but rather tweaked their approach, after a run of four straight Premier League victories amid an injury crisis.
Lucas Digne, James Rodriguez, Allan and Richarlison have all been out over the course of the last month, yet the Toffees have won their last four league games, following a run of just one win from seven.
To cope with a growing absentee list, Ancelotti switched to a solid defence of four centre-backs, and Everton have not conceded from open play during their winning run.
West Ham and former Toffees boss David Moyes are the first visitors to Goodison Park in 2021, with Ancelotti able to welcome back Richarlison for Friday's meeting.
James, Digne and Allan are all scheduled to return in January, but Ancelotti insisted he has not decided to switch Everton's style of play for good.
"In the last games we've increased our consistency, we were strong defensively, solid. But every game is its own story," he said. "It's true that we've changed. We didn't change our style or philosophy but in some games we've changed the strategy. I think that the fact that this squad is able to adapt to the different situations is good. We have had to adapt because we lost important players."
To Moyes' frustration, Everton have had extra time to prepare for West Ham's visit, due to their game with Manchester City having been postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak in Pep Guardiola's squad.
"We don't want to complain about the fixture list, but the integrity of the game is really important, as we're always being told," Moyes said. "Let's hope the integrity of the game continues to be upheld and teams get things done fairly and we'll see how it is."
Everton – Gylfi Sigurdsson
Sigurdsson netted Everton's late winner against Sheffield United on Boxing Day. The Iceland playmaker has been involved in more Premier League goals against West Ham for the Toffees than any other opponent (two goals, two assists).
West Ham – Said Benrahma
Benrahma was denied a late winner against Southampton, when he failed to beat Alex McCarthy. The former Brentford star has been limited to just two league starts this season, but his pace and creativity – and fresh legs – could be a real asset from the off against Everton.
• Everton have won more Premier League games (26) and scored more Premier League goals (86) against West Ham than they have vs any other side in the competition.
• However, Everton have won their first league game in just one of the last seven calendar years (D2 L4), losing each of the last three in a row since beating Southampton 3-0 in 2017.
• Since his Premier League debut in February, no player has scored more headed goals in the competition than West Ham's Tomas Soucek (four), while since the same date, only Oli McBurnie (13) has managed more headers on target than the Czech international (10).
• Everton have won their last four Premier League games and are looking to win five in a row in the competition for the first time since April 2014 (seven). They last won three consecutively at Goodison Park between March-September 2019, a run of six that began with victories against Chelsea and Arsenal.
• Since leaving Everton in 2013, West Ham boss Moyes has lost all four of his visits to Goodison Park to face his former side in all competitions by an aggregate score of 1-12, including a 1-4 loss in the EFL Cup this season.
Updated December 31, 2020