Toffees to get stuck into hapless Hammers
Everton entertain West Ham at Goodison Park with the two teams in vastly contrasting runs of form.
David Moyes' men come into the game after a run of five games unbeaten, keeping five clean sheets in the process.
Their post Christmas form has been very impressive, lifting them up the league and back into Europe League contention. Everton fans will hope that the season is not one of ‘what could have been' after a bad start to the season due mainly to a terrible run of injuries that deprived Mr Moyes of many of his first team.
The Toffees have been particularly impressive at Goodison. A win against West Ham would be their eight straighth victory at home, their longest run of victories since an eight-match winning streak in early 1990.
Conversely, Gianfranco Zola and his West Ham players are in desperate need of a change of luck. They are hovering ominously over the relegation places after a disastrous sequence of six straight losses.
Despite containing the likes of England internationals Robert Green, Matthew Upson and Carlton Cole as well as the influential Scotty Parker, the Hammers have only won once all season away from the Boleyn Ground.
A defeat away on Merseyside would mark the worst succession of league results since 1967 for the men from East London.
The betting for this game reflects the contrasting fortunes of both teams. Everton are heavy favourites and are priced at 4/9 on the outright market. The visitors meanwhile are afforded odds of 7/1, which is still only likely to be looked up by the most ardent West Ham fan.
The form of Louis Saha (7/2 First Goal Scorer) has been a major factor in Everton's success. His 13 league goals so far have been an excellent basis for the likes of Steven Pienaar (9/1), Tim Cahill (9/2) and the fit again Mikel Arteta (7/1) to add to Everton's goal tally.
Hammers' boss Zola wishes he could count on that kind of attacking options. Carlton Cole (8/1) must try to rediscover his early season form to try and shoot his side away from the relegation zone. His colleagues Mido (10/1), McCarthy (11/1) and Diamanti (9/1) must also find their shooting boots starting at Goodison.
At the other end of the pitch for West Ham Robert Green has now conceded 15 goals in his last six games, three of those coming against relegation rivals Wolves last week. He now comes up against an Everton attack averaging almost two goals a game throughout that same 6 game period. Therefore an attractive punt could be on the Total Match Goals - Over 2.5 is an appealing 8/11.
Everton won the reverse of this fixture 2-1 at Upton Park in November and the same score line in favour of The Toffees at odds of 7/1 may not be a bad option. The game here last season ended 3-1 to the home side, a repeat of that score pays out at 10/1.
My personal recommendation for this game is for the Toffees to completely dominate from start to finish. Moyes' boys are marching forward towards that target of a top six finish and I can see nothing but them adding three points towards that. The double result of Everton/Everton has enticing odds of 11/10.
Everton are also 4/5 to keep a clean sheet and with the ever reliable Leighton Baines and Phil Neville either side of Jagielka and Distin then I can't see a way through for West Ham.