2018-19 EPL Match Day 22 Preview — West Ham United (8-4-9) vs. Arsenal (12-5-4)

West Ham United already knew they had a fight on their hands in a bid for a top-half finish while potentially contending for a spot in European play next term.

Now they have another one to keep their top striker in place ahead of Saturday’s derby at home against London rival Arsenal.

POTENTIAL STARTING XIs

The Irons (8-4-9) are currently in 10th place but only three points out of seventh, a spot that could result in a Europa League qualifying round berth depending on the Carabao Cup and FA Cup results. But an unnamed Chinese Super League club – rumoured to be Shanghai SIPG – has thrown a spanner into the works with a £35 million bid for striker Marko Arnautovic.

Arnautovic’s brother Danijel, who also represents him, went public with the Austria international’s desire for the London club to accept the offer, telling TalkSport, “He wants to go to a new market and challenge for titles. This is what he wants. It is his great desire West Ham accept the offer from China.”

West Ham, who bought Arnautovic from Stoke City for £20 million in July 2017, issued a terse statement that read: “Marko has a contract and we fully expect him to honour it. He is not for sale.”

Arnautovic is the joint-leader in goals for West Ham with eight after scoring the opener in their 2-0 FA Cup win over Birmingham City on Saturday. He nearly got into a row with Manuel Pellegrini upon his precautionary removal after 20 minutes due to a twinge in his back, but the Chilean manager would not back down from his decision given the Irons have 17 league matches remaining.

“It is not very important,” Pellegrini said post-match according to the Guardian. “It was better to change him because he is just coming back from an injury. He could continue but it was better to protect him. He was angry for one minute.”

West Ham do not have many true centre-forwards beyond Arnautovic, with Andy Carroll also rumoured to be on the move in the January window. The oft-injured Carroll scored in second-half stoppage time to seal the victory with his first goal since April.

The win also marked the debut of midfielder Samir Nasri, who arrived on West Ham on a free transfer and was eligible after serving an 18-month ban for doping. The one-time Arsenal midfielder played 58 minutes before being subbed out for Robert Snodgrass, and the expectation is the former France international will at worst be among the 18 for this contest.

Arsenal (12-5-4), who are three points behind Chelsea for fourth and three ahead of hard-charging Manchester United, also emerged unscathed in the third round of the FA Cup as they won 3-0 at Blackpool on Saturday. Joe Willock had a first-half brace as Unai Emery overturned seven of his starting XI that won 4-1 over Fulham to ring in the new year.

While West Ham are being dragged into the January transfer window, it appears the Gunners do not have much interest in it. Emery raised a few eyebrows at his Thursday news conference when he announced the club would only add players via loan in this window, which adds to the intrigue of whether midfielder Aaron Ramsey would leave this month.

Ramsey started in the win over Blackpool and has been linked with a move to Juventus, but he and Emery appear to be on the same wavelength regarding professionalism. To Emery, that makes Ramsey available for selection.

“It’s an individual situation rather than the team,” he said about Ramsey. “My idea and focus, I say to him every day, is that we need his performance for us. In the last match I was very happy with him. I asked in the last match at Blackpool if he is OK to help us play and he said, ‘Yeah, coach, I want to play’ and he played with a very big behaviour and commitment to us.

“Every day he’s here with us, he’s working very well. I want his behaviour and his focus to be on West Ham on Saturday.”

The break for the FA Cup allowed Arsenal to start working back to full health as Hector Bellerin, Laurent Koscielny, Dinos Mavropanos, Shkodran Mustafi, Nacho Monreal and Mesut Ozil all resumed training with the first team this week. Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Rob Holding and Danny Welbeck all remain long-term injury absentees, with Mkhitaryan expected to resume practicing next month.

The teams have kicked on to differing levels since Emery recorded his first league win at Arsenal in the reverse fixture in late August. The Gunners ran out 3-1 winners in that match, with West Ham defender Issa Diop’s own goal on 70 minutes snapping a 1-1 deadlock. Arnautovic and Monreal traded goals five minutes apart in the first half, and Welbeck scored in stoppage time to seal the win.

Arsenal have won three on the bounce in all competitions in this derby and are unbeaten in the last seven (5-2-0) overall. The Gunners are also unbeaten in their last 11 trips (8-3-0) to east London since a 1-0 loss at Upton Park in 2006 and 18-4-1 in the last 23 overall meetings.

PUNTERS’ NOTES

Per Bet365, Arsenal are 21/20 favourites to win this London derby, with West Ham 5/2 underdogs to claim all three points amid the distractions of the Arnautovic saga. There are 3/1 odds on the sides splitting the points.

Oddsmakers are overwhelmingly expecting goals, with 8/15 odds on clearing 2.5 goals compared to 6/4 going under that total. It’s also expected both teams will score, with 1/2 odds of no clean sheets compared to 6/4 with at least one.

Arsenal’s strikers Aubameyang and Lacazette lead the line for first goal-scorers at 3/1 and 4/1, respectively. The man of the moment — Arnautovic — is an 11/2 selection and top option among the Irons. Arsenal reserve Eddie Nketiah checks in at 6/1, just ahead of Carroll at 13/2, while his Hammers teammates Chicharito (13/2) and Lucas Perez (7/1) follow.

Aubameyang is a 4/6 pick to score during the match, and Lacazette is even money to do so. Arnautovic is tabbed as a 7/5 option, while Nketiah again pips Carroll and Chicharito, this time at 8/5 compared to the Irons duo at 7/4. Ozil lurks as a 2/1 anytime option and 15/2 pick to make it 0-1.

PREDICTION

Well this is less than ideal for West Ham, isn’t it? After the Chinese Super League had cooled off in recent windows regarding exorbitant offers of Premier League players, here come Shanghai to drop a haymaker of an offer for Arnautovic. The grandstanding between his agent brother and the club (though, to be fair, the club’s terse statement after his Danijels statement almost caused whiplash it came so fast) will be something to watch in the coming days or perhaps weeks.

It is unfortunate because at the very least, West Ham had the appearance of a team that looked like they had a proper 18 for league play and definitely did not lack for options in attack. One almost wonders whether they secretly wished it was Carroll and not Arnautovic being the apple of Shanghai’s eye to finally be rid of the oft-injured forward.

It almos gives the feel that Arnautovic’s anger about being lifted was premeditated, that he and his brother knew this offer was coming down the pike. That’s a conspiracy theory for another day, but something to chew on.

For Arsenal, they are near or at the point where they have their entire first-choice back four for Emery to begin seeing just how good this team can really be. And Emery deserves credit for plugging players in uncomfortable spots and pragmatically flexing between different formations to not only mask deficiencies but keep Arsenal in the hunt for a top-four spot. There is still a gulf in class to the top three, but fourth is most certainly attainable.

It would not be surprising to see Ramsey start over Ozil, but there has to be a stick-or-twist moment with the former Germany international decides he is on board or starts plotting his next move. It’s laudable to hold everyone accountable, but Emery cannot keep citing “matchups” as a reason to keep his most creative playmaker off the 18-man roster at times.

This is the first time West Ham have had to deal with an external distraction, but to Pellegrini’s credit, he did well to right the ship after a self-created one with his side’s four-loss start in league play that included the defeat at the Emirates.

Arsenal, though, look primed to take advantage of the circus around Arnautovic and should power through for three points here.

PREDICTED FINAL SCORE: West Ham 0, Arsenal 2.

OTHER EPL MATCH DAY 22 PREVIEWS:

Brighton and Hove Albion (7-5-9) vs. Liverpool (17-3-1)
Leicester City (9-4-8) vs. Southampton (3-7-11)
Chelsea (13-5-3) vs. Newcastle United (4-6-11)
Tottenham Hotspur (16-0-5) vs. Manchester United (11-5-5)

2018-19 EPL Match Day 13 Preview — West Ham United (3-3-6) vs. Manchester City (10-2-0)

Pep Guardiola must find a new left back as Manchester City return from the international break minus Benjamin Mendy heading into their match Saturday at West Ham United against former manager Manuel Pellegrini.

POTENTIAL STARTING XIs

(Editor’s Note — The expectation is for Gundogan to start for Bernardo Silva)

Mendy, who is tied for the team lead with five assists — which is also good for second in the Premier League – suffered a left knee injury that required surgery while on international duty with France in Nations League play. It is not the same knee that required reconstructive surgery last season, and Mendy is expected to be sidelined at least a month.

Luckily, the bottomless pockets of Manchester City (10-2-0) means Guardiola does not lack replacement options at the position. The top two options are Fabian Delph and Oleksandr Zinchenko, both of whom have played there earlier this season when Mendy dealt with niggling injuries. Another option for Guardiola is to switch Danilo from right back, with the Brasil international fully healthy after suffering an ankle injury in the October international break.

Delph is likely the frontrunner for the spot, having captained the England side in their 3-0 victory over the United States in a friendly during the break.

“I have no doubts about Fabian. He was important for us last season and he will be again this season,” Guardiola told Man City’s official website earlier this term.

City maintained their unbeaten start with a 3-1 victory over Manchester United at home before the break. While the Citizens moved 12 points clear of their eternal rivals by claiming the first Manchester derby, they have yet to create separation from the top of the table as fellow unbeatens Liverpool and Chelsea are two and four points back, respectively.

Sergio Aguero, who scored in the win over United and has netted eight of his team-high nine goals in league play, also has a pair of assists in the last two league contests and four overall. City have a Premier League-best 36 goals while conceding just five, matching Liverpool for the best mark in the top flight.

Like City, West Ham United (3-3-6) also have some issues with injured personnel at outside back. Ryan Fredericks, who limped off late in the Irons’ 1-1 draw at Huddersfield Town prior to the break, has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a shin injury. Fredericks adds to a lengthy long-term injury list that already includes summer signing Andriy Yarmolenko, Manuel Lanzini, Winston Reid, and Carlos Sanchez.

The good news for Pellegrini is he will have midfielder Jack Wilshere and forward Andy Carroll available after both missed lengthy spells due to injury. Midfielder Mark Noble also returns after serving a three-match ban for a direct red card, but fellow midfielder Robert Snodgrass must sit out this match due to a yellow card accumulation.

This will be Pellegrini’s first match against Manchester City following his awkward departure after the 2015-16 season. It was the Chilean who announced to the public the team had reached an agreement for Guardiola to replace him in late January, completely taking the edge off a City side who were challenging Leicester City for the Premier League title. While his Champions League semifinal appearance that season remains the club’s high-water mark Guardiola has yet to match, their exit at the hands of Real Madrid was so meek It caused chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak to level public criticism.

The Irons come out of the international break looking to push their league unbeaten streak to four matches. West Ham have settled since Pellegrini’s switch to a 4-1-4-1 formation with Declan Rice serving as a shield for the back four, and the Ireland international is thriving in the role Pellegrini has made for him.

“In this position, I also get to play and go forward with the ball,” he explained to the team’s official website. “I don’t try to over-complicate anything. I just play what I see, because once I started overcomplicating things and giving the ball away, there’s nothing worse than having to chase back for the ball so, when I get the ball, I just look to get my head up and give it.”

West Ham have taken four points in their first five matches against the “Big Six,” though the losses to Liverpool and Arsenal came as part of their 0-0-4 start that necessitated Pellegrini’s switch in formation.

Manchester City have won five on the trot in all competitions over West Ham United and posted a 4-1 victory in last season’s corresponding fixture. Leroy Sane, Gabriel Jesus and Fernandinho scored goals, and ex-City defender Pablo Zabaleta contributed an own goal.

The Citizens are 8-5-7 at West Ham in the Premier League era in all competitions, but they have lost just two of the last 14 (8-4-2).

PUNTERS’ NOTES

Per Ladbrokes, Manchester City are 1/4 favourites to keep their hold atop the Premier League table for another match day and beat their former boss. The odds of the Irons claiming a point similar to how they did versus Chelsea are a healthy 24/5, while the chances of pulling off the shock scoreline of the season and handing City their first loss are 11/1.

City are expected to score goals coming out of the international break, with odds of a win and more than 2.5 goals scored at 4/6. A 0-1 or 0-2 scoreline offers a 13/4 return, with a low-scoring draw of 0-0 and 1-1 checks in at 7/1. For the Irons supporters, a victory regardless of goal total carries 16/1 odds.

Aguero, as expected, is the top option to open the scoring at London Stadium, getting 13/5 odds. He leads a line of City players that runs seven strong from Gabriel Jesus at 3/1 to David Silva at 7/1 as the pair bracket Raheem Sterling (4/1) and Leroy Sane and Riyad Mahrez (9/2). Marko Arnautovic is West Ham’s first listing at 17/2, while the sentimental can take Andy Carroll at 9/1 as the Irons striker is slated to make his season debut.

Aguero (4/6) and Jesus (3/4) are better than even money to put one past Lukasz Fabianski, with Sterling, Mahrez and Sane just off that standard at 11/10, 5/4 and 11/8, respectively. Carroll is again the pick of the West Ham litter for an any-time goal at 23/10, with Carroll and Chicharito a joint-second at 13/5.

PREDICTION

There is never a good time to catch Manchester City, but coming off an international break qualifies as one that could work to West Ham’s advantage as the Citizens work off the rust from the international break and go through their gears. There will be some intrigue to Pellegrini’s first match against City since that awkward parting of the ways, but that is more for West Ham players to use as motivation in contrast to the curiosity of how he will be received at the Etihad.

Mendy’s injury may result in a more focused defensive effort for Man City, though Delph has seamlessly contributed from the left back position when called upon previously. The injury to Bernardo Silva makes room for Ilkay Gundogan, who had a goal and an assist in 28 minutes of action off the bench in City’s two matches before the international break.

Such is the life of a big-money team that runs two deep at every position (except goalkeeper… maybe) where Guardiola can simply plug in quality pieces at every position

Marko Arnautovic will challenge Aymeric Laporte and John Stones, and then there is the possibility of seeing Carroll for the first time this season. What he can contribute is unknown, but all the same, the hope is he stays healthy for a prolonged period fo time to try and contribute.

PREDICTED FINAL SCORE: West Ham United 0, Manchester City 2.

OTHER EPL MATCH DAY 13 PREVIEWS:

Tottenham Hotspur (9-0-3) vs. Chelsea (8-4-0)
Fulham (1-2-9) vs. Southampton (1-5-6)
Bournemouth (6-2-4) vs. Arsenal (7-3-2)
Watford (6-2-4) vs. Liverpool (9-3-0)

2018-19 EPL Match Day 12 Preview — Huddersfield Town (1-3-7) vs. West Ham United (3-2-6)

Huddersfield Town are not concerned about winning style points, they just want the wins and the points that come with them.

After making their long-awaited breakthrough last weekend, the Terriers look to go into the international break with back-to-back victories Saturday when they host West Ham United.

POTENTIAL STARTING XIs

Huddersfield Town (1-3-7) were the last Premier League team to notch their maiden victory, getting a 1-0 triumph over Fulham on Monday in what was likely the first of many six-point relegation belters for David Wagner’s side. The lone goal came just before the half-hour, courtesy of Cottagers defender Timothy Fosu-Mensah, who deflected Christopher Schindler’s header into his own net.

The goal ended a 233-minute scoreless drought dating to Schindler’s equaliser against Burnley in a 1-1 draw on Oct. 6, a staggering 658-minute goalless stretch at home, and snapped a 15-match winless spell (0-5-10) in all competitions dating to their 1-0 victory over Watford in April last term. The victory lifted the Terriers to the top of the drop in 18th place, trailing Newcastle United on goal difference, while another three teams above them are within two points.

“Everybody is very happy. We worked very hard and we deserved all the points,” midfielder Aaron Mooy told HTTV. “Today we were solid, everyone worked hard to keep the ball out of the net and if you keep clean sheets then you have a good chance of winning the game.

“When you’re 1-0 up with 10 minutes to go, you have to work as hard as you can and every player did that. We deserved it, we didn’t stop working.”

The victory means the three changes manager David Wagner made – restoring defender Terence Kongolo now that he’s 100 percent healthy and recalling midfielder Florent Hadergjonaj and striker Steve Mounie – will likely to carry over. The Terriers did catch a break when midfielder Philip Billing did not pick up a fifth booking in the win over Fulham, with the yellow card instead going to Isaac Mbenza.

Huddersfield, though, still must find a spark for an offence that have a league-low five goals and have yet to strike more than once in 22 matches across all competitions dating to a 4-1 victory over Bournemouth in February. Additionally, three of the four goals scored by Wagner’s side have come from defenders and none from strikers.

West Ham United (3-2-6) are looking to end an astounding 65-match run in league play without back-to-back victories that dates back to January 2017 when Slaven Bilic was still in charge of the Hammers. They took the first step with a 4-2 victory over Burnley last weekend that took away some of the disappointment of being bounced by derby rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the Carabao Cup.

Felipe Anderson had his best match since signing with West Ham in the summer, recording a brace and netting the go-ahead goal on 84 minutes. Marko Arnautovic opened the scoring for the Irons and then assisted on Chicharito’s insurance marker in stoppage time. Pellegrini is as eager as anyone associated with West Ham to start a winning streak, but the primary reason is to start climbing the table as opposed to history.

“It’s important we make it back-to-back Premier League wins on Saturday because we need to recover points,” Pellegrini said at his Thursday news conference. “I think our start to the season was so bad that we need to recover some points, but if we think we are going to do it just because we are playing against Huddersfield that is not in a good season, I think we are going to make a big mistake.”

“It’s a team that fights for every ball as if it is the last one and just won its first game and lost against Liverpool just 1-0, so I think we are going to have to play a complete game in defending and attacking if we are going to win the game.”

West Ham have righted themselves with 11 points in eight matches after Pellegrini’s switch to a 4-1-4-1 formation in which Declan Rice shields the back line. The 19-year-old Ireland international – still being wooed by England to join their senior side – is one of two key young players on the team with winger Grady Diangana, who has filled the spot created by the long-term injury to Andriy Yarmolenko.

“He must continue learning because his position in the team is a very tactical position and filled by a very intelligent player, but I think he has a lot of potential,” Pellegrini said of Rice to the club’s official website. “He is a mature player for his 19 years because he is always listening. If you see young players, at the beginning they try to do what they think is best, but I think that Declan is always listening to us and what we are talking to him about what he must improve.”

The Irons will again be without midfielder Mark Noble, who will serve the second of his three-match ban for a direct red card received at Leicester City.

West Ham did the double over Huddersfield last term, including a 4-1 romp in the corresponding fixture. Arnautovic had a blinding 15-minute spell after the interval in that victory, scoring the go-ahead goal almost straight out of the locker room before setting up a brace for Manuel Lanzini in a five-minute span.

PUNTERS’ NOTES

Per Ladbrokes, West Ham are the pick to win this match with 5/4 odds, with a draw (21/10) just ahead of Huddersfield making it back-to-back wins themselves at 23/10.

The Irons are a 16/5 pick to win this match with more than 2.5 goals and a 10/3 selection to post a 0-1 or 0-2 scoreline. A draw with under 2.5 goals actually has the shortest listing at 27/10, while the home Terriers are getting little love as a victory on either side of the 2.5 threshold has 5/1 odds.

Hammers strikers Arnautovic and Chicharito are joint-top for first goal honours, with both 4/1 selections to make it 0-1. The odds of there being no goal-scorer ranks a surprisingly high third at 11/2, just ahead of Huddersfield’s Laurent Depoitre and Steve Mounie (6/1). Despite his brace last week, Anderson is laying in the weeds as a first-goal selection with 8/1 odds.

Arnautovic edges out Chicharito as the favourite for a goal over the course of 90 minutes, with the Austria international getting 6/4 odds compared to the Mexico international at 8/5. Depoitre is against Huddersfield’s top option behind the no goal-scorer at 12/5, though this time Mbenza is the second pick among Terriers players at 9/2.

PREDICTION

There is a difference between “must-win” and “need to win.” For this game, Huddersfield are dangerously near the former category, though viewing this match as one “not to lose” may be more accurate given how closely grouped the bottom six teams in the table are. More than a need for a result, Huddersfield have to get offence from their attacking players. Billing is the only non-defender to score for the Terriers this season, and that goal came eight matches ago in the draw versus Everton.

For West Ham, this is a “need to win” if they do have serious intentions on finishing in the top half of the table, something everyone agrees this side can do based on the talent it accumulated in the offseason coupled with the fact Pellegrini’s tactics and 4-1-4-1 shape are taking hold. Even without Noble in the midfield, West Ham can still play down the flanks through Anderson and Diangana, while Arnautovic is capable of creating his own success as evidenced by his first goal versus Burnley.

The Hammers are capable of getting a result on the road — they were deserved winners at Everton in September — and if they avoid playing down to Huddersfield and taking the match by the scruff of its neck, they should be able to go into the break on a positive note.

PREDICTED FINAL SCORE: Huddersfield Town 0, West Ham United 1.

OTHER MATCH DAY 12 EPL PREVIEWS:

Leicester City (5-1-5) vs. Burnley (2-2-7)
Liverpool (8-3-0) vs. Fulham (1-2-8)
Chelsea (8-3-0) vs. Everton (5-3-3)
Manchester City (9-2-0) vs. Manchester United (6-2-3)

2018-19 EPL Match Day 9 — West Ham United (2-1-5) vs. Tottenham Hotspur (6-0-2)

Still ravaged by injury, Tottenham Hotspur look to remain within striking distance of the Premier League lead Saturday when they make the short trek to London Stadium for a derby encounter with West Ham United.

POTENTIAL STARTING XIs

Spurs (6-0-2) are fifth in the table, trailing Arsenal on goal difference, but are only two points out of first place behind the logjam of Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea. The Lilywhites, whose hopes for advancing in the Champions League are precarious after losses to Inter Milan and Barcelona, limped into the international break playing without regulars Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen, Jan Vertonghen, Mousa Dembele and Serge Aurier.

Vertonghen looks like he will be sidelined the longest, with December a target date of return for the central defender and Belgium international. Alli has been ruled out of this match and next week Champions League tilt with PSV Eindhoven, but Eriksen and Dembele could feature in this contest. Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino avoided a further thinning at the midfield position when Kenya international Victor Wanyama’s hamstring injury was not as serious as first feared.

Still, Spurs do not lack for quality among those who can play in the middle of the park. Eric Dier and Harry Winks were crucial contributors to England’s UEFA Nations League victory over Spain during the international recess, and Erik Lamela is more than capable of providing a creative spark in attack underneath star striker Harry Kane.

“I’m happy because I’m feeling good and I’m featuring in lots of games,” said Lamela, who has four goals and two assists in his last six matches across all competitions, to the club’s official website. “I’m happy to be playing and I’m enjoying it.

“The difference is that I started this season at the start of the summer while last year at this stage I was still recovering from my hip surgery. I started last season in November (he returned at Leicester on 28 November). At the beginning I was still having a few problems, which is normal when you come back from surgery, but now I feel more comfortable.”

While Lamela looks to continue his fine form, Kane continues to lay claim to being among the world’s best strikers. The England international had two assists in the 3-2 victory over Spain, showing tactical nous in tormenting standout defenders Sergio Ramos and Nacho Fernandez and plowing through the fatigue of an arduous calendar year between Tottenham’s two-track domestic and Champions League responsibilities around England’s run to the World Cup semifinals last summer.

Kane has recorded a brace in three of his last six matches against West Ham and had the match-winner in last term’s corresponding fixture as Spurs held out for a 3-2 victory. The star forward has seven goals in nine matches versus West Ham while playing for the Lilywhites.

The momentum West Ham United (2-1-5) had been building after a slow start under new manager Manuel Pellegrini came slightly undone before the break with a 1-0 defeat at Brighton and Hove Albion. That ended a four-match unbeaten streak in all competitions, highlighted by a win over Manchester United and draw versus Chelsea, and the Irons will look to kick on and improve on their 15th-place standing in the table to avoid a potential relegation scrap later this term.

Striker Marko Arnautovic also continued his fine form during the international break, scoring the winner for Austria in a Nations League victory over Northern Ireland, but perhaps more important for West Ham is the European side played only one competitive match during the recess, allowing their striker some extra rest before resuming his role leading the line for the Hammers.

While getting goals is important, stopping them is equally vital, and keeper Lukasz Fabianski is eager for the challenge of the Spurs as he faces them in a derby atmosphere with a second side. The Poland international made five appearances versus Tottenham while with Arsenal and is excited to get another positive result at home.

“We just have to prepare ourselves well during the week and have a good game on Saturday, and make sure that the fans will be proud and happy after our performance,” he told the team’s official website. “You can see that we have improved, especially playing at home and the recent results here have been very good so hopefully that will continue this Saturday.”

After shipping 10 goals in losing their first four league matches, West Ham have conceded three in the last four. The Irons will also set out to improve a poor track record in London derbies as they have gone 1-6-3 in their last 10 such contests dating back to the start of last season.

West Ham have held their own against Tottenham in recent seasons, going 6-2-4 in the last 12 across all competitions dating back to 2013-14. The Irons have scored in all but one match during that stretch and netted two or more in seven of those contests.

PUNTERS’ NOTES

Per Ladbrokes, the short-handed Spurs are the oddsmakers’ choice to emerge with three points and are established as 20/23 favourites. The odds of a draw are 27/10, slightly better than the Irons emerging with their seventh win in 13 matches between the teams at 29/10.

It is not surprising goals are expected in this contest, with 13/8 odds for a Tottenham victory with more than 2.5 goals. There are similar 17/4 odds for Spurs clamping down for a 1-0 or 2-0 victory and a 0-0 or 1-1 draw, while West Ham are 9/2 picks to claim a victory with more than 2.5 goals. Not many are expecting Fabianski and the Hammers to stifle the Spurs, with 17/2 odds for a 1-0 or 2-0 victory.

Despite not scoring for England during the international break, Kane showed enough to be the favourite to score the first goal of the match with 13/5 odds. Spurs reserve forward Fernando Llorente is 4/1, just ahead of West Ham top pick Arnautovic (11/2). There’s a grab bag from both teams at 13/2, with Lucas Moura, Heung-Min Son and Chicharito all listed just ahead of Lamela (7/1).

Kane is better than even money to continue tormenting West Ham, with 3/4 odds to score during the match. Llorente (11/8) and Arnautovic (17/10) again round out the top three options while Chicharito, Son and Moura are all 2/1. Down the list a little further at 23/10 after helping Ukraine win promotion to Group A of the UEFA Nations League play is Andriy Yarmolenko, who has not scored in three league matches since his brace against Everton to account for his two goals with the Irons.

PREDICTION

While Chelsea-Manchester United is the marquee match of Saturday’s slate, this contest has the potential to be the most entertaining. Even with the spate of injuries Tottenham have endured, the offensive triangle of Kane, Moura and Lamela has more than enough class and quality to give a still inconsistent Irons back line plenty of issues. The potential return of Eriksen gives Pochettino the flexibility to use either a 4-4-2 like he did against Cardiff City or a 4-2-3-1 in which both Son and Moura are wide and Kane is up top alone.

The challenge for Spurs will be to control possession through the middle of the park since West Ham tend to operate their offense through the flanks with Yarmolenko and Felipe Anderson. Just like Kane to West Ham, Arnautovic will give Alderweireld and Sanchez some issues up front.

The man of the moment in this contest could be West Ham defensive midfielder Declan Rice as he continues to settle into his role in front of the back four. It has stabilised the Irons — they have given up three goals in their last four league matches since Pellegrini switched to a 4-1-4-1 formation, but Kane’s wiles and Son’s industry will make this an intriguing game of cat and mouse in West Ham’s final third.

PREDICTED FINAL SCORE: West Ham United 1, Tottenham Hotspur 2.

OTHER MATCH DAY 9 PREVIEWS:

Chelsea (6-2-0) vs. Manchester United (4-1-3)
Manchester City (6-2-0) vs. Burnley (2-2-4)
Wolverhampton (4-3-1) vs. Watford (4-1-3)
Arsenal (6-0-2) vs. Leicester City (4-0-4)

2018-19 EPL Match Day 7 — West Ham United (1-1-4) vs. Manchester United (3-1-2)

For all the talk of the captain’s armband around Carrington and Old Trafford this week, a circus ringmaster’s hat may be the next appropriate piece of fashion to be discussed as the fractious relationship between Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba and manager Jose Mourinho spilled out into the open ahead of Saturday’s match’s at West Ham United.

POTENTIAL STARTING XIs

While the two have circled round each other to varying degrees starting almost the moment after Pogba lifted the Jules Rimet trophy with France at the World Cup – aided by the words, actions and inactions of Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola and United executive chairman Ed Woodward – this week has taken the relationship, or lack thereof, to a new level or low depending on perspective.

It began with last weekend’s 1-1 draw against Wolverhampton which ended a three-match winning streak in all competitions for United (3-1-2). Pogba set up Fred’s first-half goal but was also responsible for the giveaway that led to Joao Moutinho’s equaliser for Wolves.

United were on the back foot for much of the match against the promoted side, something Pogba noted to the BBC post match in which he said, “We are at home, and we should play much better against Wolves. We are here to attack. … When we play like (that) it’s easier for us.”

That tweaking of Mourinho’s tactics led the manager to stripping Pogba of his vice captaincy in front of his teammates on the practice grounds one day before United crashed out of the Carabao Cup 8-7 on penalties Tuesday at home to Championship side Derby County, run by Frank Lampard — one of Mourinho’s star midfielders at Chelsea.

After the loss – in which Pogba did not play as part of a prearranged plan by the two parties – Mourinho downplayed any talk of a rift while confirming his action without explanation, saying “The only truth is that I made the decision for Paul not to be second captain any more. It was exactly the same person who decided Pau was the second captain – myself. No fallout at all, just decisions I do not have to explain.”

On Wednesday, video emerged of a tense exchange between the two at Carrington, with details later coming out Mourinho was upset over an Instagram post Pogba made that reached his social media account 30 minutes after the loss to Derby County. That, however, blew over without incident when it became clear that the WiFi at Old Trafford – which English journalists all have pointed out is notoriously inconsistent – led to the delay in the video posting in what optically looked at an inopportune time.

Yet as Mourinho put out one fire, another emerged with his surprising criticism of defender Phil Jones, whose missed penalty in the eighth round consigned United to defeat and was the only attempt among the 16 by both sides stopped. After the match, Mourinho said “Going after the sixth and seventh I knew we would be in trouble with Jones and Eric (Bailly).”

While this sideshow rages on, one point Mourinho repeated Tuesday after the draw versus Wolves rang true – United currently are lacking a killer instinct to finish teams off. The red card to keeper Sergio Romero did United no favours, and it took Marouane Fellaini’s stoppage-time equaliser just to get the match to penalties.

Whether Pogba is restored to the lineup is a question only Mourinho answers. “The Special One” though has issues at both right back and left wing. For the former, summer signing Diogo Dalot appears ready to supplant veteran Antonio Valencia, whose lack of effectiveness going forward is overshadowing his steady play along United’s back four.

Up front, Alexis Sanchez was an unused substitute Tuesday night – the second time in three matches he did not play, though he was left behind for United’s Champions League opener on the artificial pitch at Young Boys. With Marcus Rashford having completed a three-match ban for violent conduct and eligible to return, Mourinho may shuffle his attackers as Tuesday goal-scorer Juan Mata, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard are also among the options with Sanchez and Rashford to flank Romelu Lukaku in United’s 4-3-3.

The drama surrounding Pogba and Mourinho has sucked up all the oxygen in that facing what appears to be a resurgent West Ham United squad is completely secondary. After opening league play with four losses on the trot, the Irons (1-1-4) have taken four points from their last two matches and ended Chelsea’s 100 percent run with a scoreless draw last Sunday.

In fact, it can be argued West Ham should have taken all three points, but Andriy Yarmolenko missed a wide-open header late as the Irons sorely missed the presence of injured striker Marko Arnautovic.

Much of West Ham’s resurgence can be attributed to the introduction of Declan Rice in a holding midfielder role in front of the back four. There was also a strategy to lay deeper against Chelsea, something that could repeat itself again in this match given Man United’s attacking options.

“It is obvious that we have improved, otherwise we would not have taken four points in these last two matches,” midfielder Pedro Obiang told the club’s official website. “We have to improve more to meet the expectations that we have about us. We are doing it little-by-little, week-by-week.

“The expectations with the new signings and the new coach are very big. We had a bad start and now we have to organise ourselves little-by-little.”

That organisation on the offensive side finally came to fruition Wednesday when West Ham demolished last-place League Two side Macclesfield Town 8-0 at home. Grady Diangana had a brace in his senior Hammers debut while Ryan Fredericks, Robert Snodgrass and Lucas Perez all added their first goals with the club.

“We played with intensity and we tried to continue playing in the same way,” a pleased Pellegrini said. “A lot of the time when you play against a lower league team you don’t play with the same pace, and you think you can walk to victory but we were very professional.”

Arnautovic is expected to be restored to the starting XI, with Michail Antonio the most likely candidate to make way for the Austria international. Arnautovic has combined with Yarmolenko to score all five of West Ham’s goals in league play.

Manchester United took four points in last season’s means, including a scoreless draw in the corresponding fixture. West Ham United are winless in their last five (0-2-3) in all competitions versus the Red Devils and have not scored in 358 minutes in league play against them since Diafra Sakho’s goal  a 1-1 draw Nov. 27, 2016.

West Ham have just one win in their last 19 league matches (1-5-13) against Manchester United, a 3-2 victory at Upton Park on May 10, 2016. The Irons, though, are 1-4-2 in the last seven top-flight matches between the clubs.

PUNTERS’ NOTES

Per Ladbrokes, Manchester United are comfortable 4/5 favourites to return home with three points. The odds of a draw at 13/5 are slightly better than West Ham pulling off a surprise win at 13/4.

Oddsmakers believe there will be goals scored as Manchester United are 7/4 favourites to win with more than 2.5 goals scored compared to 17/5 odds for a 1-0 or 2-0 scoreline. A 0-0 or 1-1 draw has 15/4 odds, while an Irons win over 2.5 goals is listed at 6/1 odds and a victory for the hosts under 2.5 checks in with 8/1 odds.

Lukaku leads the line for first-goal scorers at 10/3, with Rashford getting 5/1 odds to make it 1-0 upon his return to the fold. Martial (11/2) has moved ahead of Sanchez (6/1) on United’s pecking order for the first goal of the match, and the Hammers have both Arnautovic and Chicharito listed as 6/1 odds to get the home side off to a positive start.

For those who think Manchester United can get a 1-0 lead via penalty and are willing to take a flyer on Pogba, the France international is getting 15/2 first-goal odds.

Lukaku is near even-money to score over the course of the 90 minutes at 23/20, with Rashford lurking at 17/10. Martial and Sanchez have 2/1 odds to beat Irons No. 1 Lukasz Fabianski, with West Ham strikers Arnautovic and Chicharito at 2/1.

PREDICTION

Before all the breathless speculation about who will emerge as the winner of this cage match between Pogba and Mourinho, one thing needs to be said straightaway: This is not that big of a deal unless Pogba is dropped from the starting lineup. THEN the argument can be made about Mourinho possibly losing the plot and the dressing room.

Talk all you want about where Pogba may go in the January window in the unlikely event Woodward acquiesces to Raiola’s wishes, refresh the toteboard on the odds of Mourinho’s survival as often as you like, if No. 6 is out there Saturday afternoon, how much has really changed for Manchester United?

In some respects, Mourinho’s side have become a poor man’s Tottenham Hotspur — United are a team with a defined ceiling that right now can be argued will not be good enough to finish in the top four.

Crashing out of the Carabao Cup is in irritant mostly restricted to Mourinho because he likes pointing to silverware as proof positive he is coaching United the right way. Losing to Lampard is an additional aggravating factor. About the only certainty regarding United is they play their best when challenged — evidenced at Burnley, evidenced at Watford.

This is a team that needs to be away from Old Trafford this weekend and are fortunate enough the schedule-makers aligned in their favour.

It is too early to buy on West Ham, solid back-to-back games aside. Pellegrini played a smart tactical game against Chelsea considering he did not have Arnautovic available, and the two low banks of four removed the issue of Noble’s lack of pace that could have been a factor had the Irons tried to stand toe-to-toe with their derby rivals. There is never any shame in taking a point, but lament for failing to grab all three is understandable.

Arnautovic does return, but it will be interesting to see just how effective he is as a hold-up forward since West Ham are lacking a defined playmaker without the injured Jack Wilshire to get him the ball. The matchup on the right as West Ham attacks between Yarmolenko and Luke Shaw will be one to watch given how Manchester United are still not a completely cohesive unit at the back and rely more on De Gea’s shot-stopping skills than actual defending.

A better opponent could have caught out United on this game amid the media circus, but even with their mini resurgence, West Ham are not that side at this moment. It will be another day Mourinho keeps the wolves at bay, but whether Pogba helps is the million-pound question.

PREDICTED FINAL SCORE: West Ham United 0, MANCHESTER UNITED 1.

OTHER MATCH DAY 7 PREVIEWS:

Arsenal (4-0-2) vs. Watford (4-1-1)
Newcastle United (0-2-4) vs. Leicester City (3-0-3)
Wolverhampton (2-3-1) vs. Southampton (1-2-3)
Chelsea (5-1-0) vs. Liverpool (6-0-0)

2018-19 EPL Match Day 6 Preview — West Ham United (1-0-4) vs. Chelsea (5-0-0)

Chelsea maintained their 100 percent start in beginning their Europa League adventure with a victory, but Maurizio Sarri wants his side to be closer to perfection as they resume Premier League play Sunday with a London derby at West Ham United.

POTENTIAL STARTING XIs

The Blues (5-0-0), who lead the Premier League on goal difference over Liverpool, kicked off play in the second-tier continental tournament with a 1-0 victory at Greek side PAOK on Thursday. Willian’s goal in the seventh minute stood as the match-winner with Chelsea dominating the proceedings, but the lack of finishing beyond the Brasil international’s goal left Sarri pondering his attacking options going forward.

“We were in control of the match for 90 minutes,” Sarri told Chelsea’s official website. “We had a lot of opportunities, we missed them, so I am really happy with the three points and the performance but not the result, because when it is time to kill the match, we have to kill the match.”

Some of the lack of finishing can be attributed to Alvaro Morata, who led the line but failed to put any of his seven shots on target. The Spain international’s lone goal came against Arsenal on Aug. 18, and it would not be surprising to see Olivier Giroud restored to the starting XI after he assisted on pair of goals in last weekend’s 4-1 romp past Cardiff City.

“Morata has to gain confidence with one, two or three goals. I am not able to give him confidence,” Sarri noted. “In this game he had three or four opportunities, he was unlucky. I hope in the future I can try to help him, but the confidence comes only with goals.

“But I have to say also that for the first time this season he was very ready in the box. He was on the ball, he was active.”

Also expected to return to the starting lineup is Eden Hazard, who did not make the trip to Greece along with central defender David Luiz and midfielder Mateo Kovacic. Luiz should also return to the back four, but Kovacic was forced off versus Cardiff with a knee injury, which makes room for either Ross Barkley or Ruben Loftus-Cheek to join Jorginho and N’Golo Kante in the midfield.

Though Pedro suffered a shoulder injury late in a collision with PAOK keeper Alexandros Paschalakis, Sarri said the injury was minor and the Spaniard should be available. If not, Willian would slide into the right forward role in Chelsea’s 4-3-3 formation.

West Ham United (1-0-4) relieved some of the pressure on Manuel Pellegrini last weekend with a 3-1 victory at Everton, moving off the foot of the table and into 16th place. Andriy Yarmolenko justified his manager’s faith in being given his first start with a first-half brace, and Marko Arnautovic sealed the win with a goal just after the hour.

“I said at the start that Andriy needs a few weeks to get used to playing in the Premier League,” Pellegrini said at his Thursday news conference. “He has a lot of quality, we know that, but in this league you can’t just play with quality. You need pace and be prepared tactically to be an important part of the game.

“He demonstrated against Everton that it was the correct moment. He did it very well. After this performance, we must demand him to give more, because he’s able to be a top player for us.”

The Ukraine international may have to lead the line since Arnautovic is carrying a knock to his knee and may be relegated to the reserves list for this game. Fellow striker Chicharito Hernandez is still feeling the effects of a virus and also unlikely to feature, and midfielder Jack Wilshire is out due to an ankle injury.

Wilshire’s absence led Pellegrini to use a 4-1-4-1 set-up in which teenager and Ireland international Declan Rice played in front of the back four, forming an effective midfield triangle with Mark Noble and Pedro Obiang. Another option for this derby would be to start Michail Antonio as the lone forward and keep Yarmolenko underneath.

“A derby has a little bit more importance, of course,” Pellegrini said. “I know, here in London, there are a lot of derbies with different teams. Our first at home is against Chelsea, the team at the top of the table, so I think that is one more motivation to try to beat them.”

West Ham took four of the six points between the sides last term, including a 1-0 victory at London Stadium on a goal by Arnautovic six minutes in. The Irons have just three wins in the last 24 league matches between the teams (3-5-16).

PUNTERS’ NOTES

Per Ladbrokes, Chelsea are solid favourites to continue their perfect start as they are listed at 6/10 odds to win. A draw is a 3/1 option while West Ham are longshots to protect their pitch at 17/4 odds.

Oddsmakers fancy a Chelsea win with more than 2.5 goals, listing it as the most likely outcome with 6/5 odds. The Pensioners also have 15/4 odds to win the contest by a 1-0 or 2-0 scoreline, while a draw with either zero goals or two returns 19/4 odds. For those liking the Irons, there are 13/2 odds for a win over 2.5 goals and longer 12/1 odds they will post a clean sheet while winning 1-0 or 2-0.

The Chelsea trio of Hazard, Morata, and Giroud are joint-favourites to score the first goal of the match at 4/1, with Pedro lagging behind them at 11/2. Despite his injury, Arnautovic remains the top choice for the Hammers at 13/2, sharing those odds with Willian. Yarmolenko is listed at 17/2 to stake West Ham to a lead for the second straight contest.

Oddsmakers are all but convinced Hazard will continue his goal-scoring run as he leads the line with 23/20 odds for a marker over the 90 minutes. Morata and Giroud are right on his heels at 5/4, while Pedro (13/8) and Willian (2/1) round out Chelsea’s usual suspects. Arnautovic is the top pick for West Ham at 19/10, trailed by Chicharito (2/1), Lucas Perez (12/5), and both Yarmolenko and Antonio (13/5).

PREDICTION

Chelsea are the only team in Premier League history to have won their first five league matches and claim the title, doing so in 2005-06 and 2009-10. This time around, it will obviously be more difficult given the class of both reigning champions Manchester City and Liverpool, but the early returns on the Pensioners are they are at least viable for a top-four finish and could give the aforementioned squads a run for the trophy.

Sarri took no chances in Greece, fielding as strong a side as possible given his decision to leave Hazard, Luiz and Kovacic behind. Playing Barkley the full 90 minutes with Kovacic injures was an interesting decision by the Italian, more so in light of Pedro’s injury, even if it is not deemed serious. An intriguing option would be to play Willian behind Hazard in the 4-3-3 set-up if Pedro is healthy, but given how Sarri appears comfortable plugging in players at certain spots, it would not be surprising to see Barkley remain the starter and have Ruben Loftus-Cheek see his first action as his understudy.

This has the feel of match where Giroud finally moves the goal meter, having played a brilliant hold-up role last weekend versus Cardiff City while Hazard ran riot. Given the back line issues the Irons have had all season, Chelsea would be wise to funnel their attack through the pair. The France international’s low-maintenance ways and the Belgian’s nous in the final third have given Sarri all the time he needs to unlock the riddle of getting Morata going.

One wonders if Pellegrini will tinker with what worked after the Irons looked so appealing in thrashing Everton at Goodison Park. Arnautovic’s knock could throw a spanner into the works, but the Chilean at least does not lack for replacement options thanks to the £100 million spent in the offseason. Yarmolenko will have to be at his best to help keep Marcos Alonso from roaming forward from his left back position, and Anderson will at least need to be cognizant of Cesar Azpilicueta’s long-ball skills on the other flank.

While Rice performed well as the holding midfielder in front of the back four versus the Toffees, it would not be surprising to see Pellegrini shift to a 4-2-3-1 set-up in which the Ireland international teams with Noble or Obiang to form a bulwark against the Chelsea middle three.

This should be an entertaining derby, but Chelsea look too irresistible right now, especially against a West Ham back line that have yet to prove themselves in back-to-back matches and yet to record a clean sheet.

PREDICTED FINAL SCORE: West Ham United 0, CHELSEA 2.

OTHER MATCH DAY 6 PREVIEWS:

Burnley (0-1-4) vs. Bournemouth (3-1-1)
Crystal Palace (2-0-3) vs. Newcastle United (0-1-4)
Manchester United (3-0-2) vs. Wolverhampton (2-2-1)
Arsenal (3-0-2) vs. Everton (1-3-1)

2018-19 EPL Match Day 5 Preview — Everton (1-3-0) vs. West Ham United (0-0-4)

(Writer’s Note: This preview can be seen in a text-only format at the STATS Hosted Solutions site. I am adding edits, projected starting lineups, odds-related picks and a final score prediction for the match for this website.)

The arrival of Manuel Pellegrini was supposed to usher in a new era at West Ham United, one where the east London side would finally realise their potential as a leviathan and begin climbing the ranks of the Premier League.

POTENTIAL STARTING XIs

Coming out of the international break and into Sunday’s match at Goodison Park versus Everton, however, it has been more of the same old, same old as poor play and off-the-pitch dysfunction have ruled the day.

The Irons (0-0-4) are the only team in the top flight without a point, having shipped 10 goals in their defeats. With Pellegrini came an aggressive spending spree in the summer transfer window as 11 new players arrived with a cumulative cost of nearly £100 million. The results, though, have been uneven at best as Pellegrini has struggled to find his best four at the back and the midfield of newcomer Jack Wilshire and holdover Mark Noble have failed to influence matches offensively.

West Ham went into the break on a 1-0 loss to new boys Wolverhampton, and the hope is the time off has cleared everyone’s heads and the Irons can reboot themselves for this stretch of games to get off the foot of the table.

“Everyone was disappointed after the Wolves game,” fullback Ryan Fredericks admitted to the club’s official website. “We’ve been working hard over the international break and we’re confident of a much better performance and hopefully a better result on Sunday.

“There is no thought of letting things go. Some hard truths were spoken after the Wolves game and everyone wants to do the best for the club and the best for themselves. The plans the club had at the start of the season, we expected things to go better than this and for us to be higher up the table, so it’s up to us all to work hard and put things right on the pitch.”

That means finding a secondary scoring source beyond Mark Arnautovic, who has scored both of West Ham’s league goals and only one in the run of play through 360 minutes. Who lines up with Arnautovic in that starting XI has become a puzzling source of frustration to the Chilean as The Times reported Thursday a Twitter account with the handle ExWHUemployee has been posting the lineups publicly before Pellegrini has told the players.

Pellegrini’s usual M.O. is to tell the players four hours before kickoff, but the only people he talks to before meeting the players regarding the lineup are team owners David Sullivan and David Gold. It’s another headache for a team that spent most of the international break fighting a public battle with the landlords of London Stadium over things from putting a claret-coloured surround on the track around the pitch to the naming rights for the stadium since there is still no rights partner.

Everton (1-3-0) are not without their troubles both on and off the pitch, but the bigger worry for gaffer Marco Silva heading into this contest is the staggering amount of first-team players unavailable for this contest. At the top of the list is star winger Richarlison, who will complete his three-match ban for a red card following his headbutt of Bournemouth’s Adam Smith on Aug. 25. Defender Michael Keane is sidelined with a small fracture of his skull suffered in that 2-2 draw, and right back Seamus Coleman is out indefinitely after breaking his right foot while on international duty with Ireland.

Centre back Phil Jagielka and midfielder Andre Gomes are also not expected to be available due to injuries and holding midfielder Idrissa Gueye is likely a match-time decision due to a knee injury. Winger Dominic Calvert-Lewin also picked up an ankle injury with England’s Under-21 side and could miss out on this match as well.

One of the players who has been pressed into duties with all of these injuries, defender Mason Holgate, has made the most of his increased playing time, something likely to continue with Everton’s spate of injuries and Carabao Cup commitments in addition to league play.

“You see a lot of new signings come in but when the club comes out and say they see a future for you here, it gave me a lot of confidence,” said the 21-year-old Holgate to Everton’s official website. “They believe I can come in and do the job – and hopefully that’s what I’ve been doing so far.

“Despite the players that are out, we are still going to field a good team and I feel we are going to still do well,” the centre back added. “In every position, we have two or three players who can play there comfortably. On our day, we can beat anybody.”

The off-the-pitch problems continue to swirl around Everton’s full-court press to prise Silva from Watford after they fired Ronald Koeman last term, with an independent inquiry to determine if Everton were “tapping up” Silva now underway. The two clubs have been embroiled in a bitter dispute for nearly a year when Everton made repeated offers to give him the job last November, with Watford’s ire rising with each offer they had to spurn.

There was a thought the teams settled the issue when Richarlison moved from Vicarage Road to Goodison Park for £40 million to be reunited with Silva – a figure many believed to be well above market value for the Brasil international – but Watford filed a formal complaint and escalated the affair.

Everton could face anything from a hefty fine to a potential points deduction depending on what the inquiry fines, which includes obtaining any contact from Everton owner Farhad Moshiri through the club’s front office with Silva. It is the first case in which talk of points being deducted has arisen since Chelsea made an illegal approach for Ashley Cole in 2005 and had a suspended three-point deduction in addition to a £300,000 fine.

The home team won both matches last term, with Everton smashing four without reply by West Ham as Wayne Rooney recorded a hat trick. The Irons have just three wins in 23 matches (3-4-16) in the blue section of Merseyside in the Premier League era and one league win in the last 11 visits (1-3-7).

PUNTERS’ NOTES

Per Ladbrokes, Everton are solid favourites with 21/20 odds, while the odds of West Ham either winning or notching their first point of the season are both 5/2.

The Toffees get 2/1 odds for a win and more than 2.5 goals, while a draw under 2.5 goals returns 17/4. An Everton win under 2.5 goals checks in at 4/1, just ahead of a 0-0 or 1-1 draw (15/4).

Tosun is the front-runner for the first goal of the match at 4/1, followed by Oumar Niasse (9/2) and Arnautovic (11/2). Despite his illness, Chicharito is still on the board at 11/2, while Calvert-Lewin and Wolcott are just behind the Mexico international at 13/2.

Tosun is listed at 7/5 odds to score over the 90 minutes, while Niasse (8/5) and Arnautovic (9/5) lurk in the top three. Walcott is getting 21/10 odds, and Lookman offers an intriguing 5/2 odds to open his scoring account on the season after just 33 minutes of action versus Huddersfield Town in his league debut.

PREDICTION

“This charming man” has a lot of problems in east London. The humour of the club’s former employee putting out accurate lineups before Pellegrini tells his players who is in the starting XI has the feel of “That’s so West Ham.” It is the kind of culture Pellegrini has been fighting since his arrival, and the fact this story has gained traction shows just how much of a fight there still is for him to wage.

A lot of this, though, could be solved with the salve that cures all ills — winning. West Ham appear to have the same disconnect Arsenal have, a leaky back line and a promising attack with a midfield that is hit or miss. The fact West Ham have a former Arsenal player as part of that existing problem only adds to the parallels. The Irons need Anderson to take a game by the throat, and they need Yarmolenko to start proving his worth on the pitch.

Everton are going to be a patchwork lineup for this week and likely next week as Silva may have to change over half his preferred outfield. Kenny will be tested severely at right back as he will likely get first crack at filling Coleman’s spot, and Lookman will finally get his chance to show Silva he is deserving of more time with Richarlison out along with Andre Gomes.

It was not a good sign there were stories floating around about Pellegrini being bought out after four matches and no points, and even with Everton short-handed, the empty run could continue at Goodison Park. Tosun is due to score a goal, and that may be enough for Everton to secure at least one point. The bigger issue is this may be the game where Pickford steals the other two for the Toffees.

Predicted Final Score: EVERTON 1, West Ham United 0.

OTHER MATCH DAY 5 PREVIEWS:

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Liverpool
Manchester City vs. Fulham
Newcastle United vs. Arsenal
Watford vs. Manchester United