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Michael Taylor 27th Dec 2010 - 11:12

Hammers have a tough task ending home hoodoo

West Ham finally gained an away win under Avram Grant on Boxing Day, their next task is breaking a home hoodoo dating back three years and four games by beating Everton.

Upton Park has become a happy hunting ground for the Toffees over recent years, winning the last four in all competitions in East London, while Everton's unbeaten streak against the Hammers now runs to seven.

It doesn't make for perfect reading for West Ham fans as they try to ease away from the bottom three despite a 3-1 win at London rivals Fulham allowing them to move off the bottom.

On the past few occasions their biggest problem has been stopping Louis Saha, Everton's all-too-often toothless striker that has managed just a single Carling Cup goal this season.

Then again that's been the story of Everton's season so far - an embarrassing lack of firepower from their strikers.

Tim Cahill has had no such problems with a brilliant return of nine league goals from his advanced midfield position but it's about time somebody else chipped in and Saha may feel this is his game - if David Moyes gives him the nod to start.

In his last two appearances at Upton Park the French international has managed three goals, including the opener in the Toffees' 2-1 triumph in November last season.

His chances of starting received a boost as well after yet another of Everton's wasteful strikers, Victor Anichebe saw red at Eastlands, giving Saha the perfect opportunity to get back on track against the Premier League's most porous defence.

The former Man Utd star isn't exactly massive at 6/1 to be first scorer and 7/4 anytime scorer given his terrible record this year but we all know players have favourite grounds and this could prove to be Saha's.

Carlton Cole is one that can back that statement up after notching a first Premier League double in his career at Fulham on Sunday.

The big man was on hand to take advantage of two sloppy pieces of defending as he put the Cottagers to the sword, while he also made it six in his last five against Fulham.

He may have been fortunate in the manner the chances were created but his sharpness in converting them, especially at the end of a first half played for the main part in West Ham's half, will have impressed punters as much as his own manager.

If he can find the net again on Tuesday then we'll pay you out at a generous 13/2 first goalscorer, 15/8 anytime, which has to be a good shout given the defensive inconsistency that has plagued Everton's season thus far.

Another thing West Ham showed on Boxing Day was that they're not going to be forced into defensive, counter-attacking football despite languishing at the bottom of the table.

They caught a few breaks in securing the 3-1 win as Fulham wasted chance after chance in the first half but in the end few could argue they were good value for the win.

Avram Grant will be hoping a few lessons have been learned, especially after the likes of James Tomkins and Danny Gabbidon were left exposed, but the thing that must be heeded is ensuring Tim Cahill is a marked man.

Radoslav Kovac will be essential in carrying out that task, while Scott Parker will be expected to chip in, however I just feel the confidence Everton gained from beating Man City, plus their record at Upton Park, the away side look the best bet.

Everton are 13/10 to win the game, 8/15 about the draw no bet both of which are easy to back, especially when you factor in that Moyes' men had a rest day on Boxing Day and the Hammers gave it their all in a massive London derby.


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