Head-To-Head: West Ham
Sharpy and our Hammers expert assess this weekend's key battles.
Everton travel to West Ham on Saturday looking to follow up last week's 1-0 win over Chelsea and also maintain their impressive record at Upton Park.
The Blues have won four of their past five league encounters in East London, and were victorious last campaign with Steven Pienaar scoring the winner in a 2-1 triumph.
Ahead of the latest clash, we speak to Everton legend Graeme Sharp and West Ham journalist and author Kirk Blows to help us assess the key battles which could decide the game...
BETWEEN THE STICKS
Sharpy says: “Tim is Mr. Consistent and always has been. You need to trust your goalkeeper and everyone in the team trusts him. He’s had more competition in goal this season with Joel arriving and he’s performing fantastically as always. He was also outstanding for the USA last week by all accounts, so he's enjoying a really good start to the season.”
Blows says: “Jussi has started the season very well so far. He’s kept three clean sheets in the first four games and I think his performance in the 0-0 draw against Southampton last weekend was certainly the best.”
AT THE BACK
Sharpy says: “Sylvain won't mind me saying that he's getting on a bit now but he is such a fit boy. He’s performed excellently alongside Jags and they’ve formed a great understanding in their time together. He’s big, aggressive and so quick for his age - and he’s started the season so, so well. Another Mr. Dependable.”
Blows says: “Maiga has struggled so far this season but I don’t think he’s comfortable leading the line. It’s not a role he’s suited to. But he is a good player who can score goals. He's just more comfortable playing in a front three.”
IN THE MIDDLE
Sharpy says: “You have to take your hat off to Leon, as he’s performed fantastically well for the Club and truly deserved his England call-up last season. He’s getting on the ball plenty, playing well and he won’t have given up on winning another call-up in this World Cup year.”
Blows says: “He’s always the first name on the team sheet for the manager and he’s played further forward so far this season because of the lack of options West Ham have had. I think the same will happen once again on Saturday with Kevin playing close to the striker.”
IN THE PAST
Sharpy says: “Rats was a great player and the most successful captain in the Club’s history. He first came in at left-back before moving to his preferred position of centre-back and he was fantastic for us. He had an abundance of pace, he was decent in the air and he had a great international career. It's a shame for him that Wales weren't qualifying for major tournaments around that time or he would have had a lot more caps.”
Blows says: “Bobby was such a good defender, he’s a club icon and his legend continues to this day. People revel in the fact he’s highly revered and new fans, who were born after his death, as well as all the old fans truly respect his image.”