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West Ham v Everton: Lukaku can propel in-form Toffees to another three points

Ronald Koeman wants his Everton team to be more clinical in the final third
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With the hosts hit by more suspension and injury woes, Andrew Atherley sees a golden opportunity for Ronald Koeman's side to continue their push for a top-six finish...

"The Hammers' overall record against the elite top seven is W0 D2 L9, which includes a 2-0 defeat at Everton in October. The Toffees were in a rough patch before and after that match, which indicates they will be even harder to stop now."

Recommended Bet
Back Everton to win at [2.26]

West Ham v Everton
Saturday 22 April, 15:00

West Ham
The Hammers inched a little closer to safety with last week's 2-2 draw at bottom club Sunderland, taking them to 13th on 37 points. They are nine points clear of the relegation zone with five games to play and that may be enough already, but reaching the 40-point mark would bring some comfort.

Mark Noble is still suspended and Sam Byram also has to sit out the match, having been sent off at Sunderland. Cheikhou Kouyate could move from midfield into Byram's right-back position, with Edmilson Fernandes continuing to deputise for Noble and Havard Nordtveit brought in alongside him in midfield.

Andy Carroll is out with a groin problem and, with Michail Antonio sidelined for the rest of the season, Slaven Bilic will be hoping Diafra Sakho is ready to start up front.


Everton
The Toffees briefly went fifth with last week's 3-1 home win over Burnley but they were overtaken again by Manchester United and Arsenal. Those two rivals have both played two games fewer than Everton but the push for a top-six finish is still on, with Everton on 57 points with five games to play (already a 10-point improvement on their final total in the last two seasons).

Ronald Koeman is set to name an unchanged starting line-up, although Enner Valencia (brought on at half-time against Burnley in a tactical switch) will be unable to play any part due to the conditions of his loan deal from West Ham.


Match Odds
West Ham got into trouble with a run of six straight defeats before gaining vital points against relegation-zone teams in their last two games (a 1-0 home win over Swansea followed by their draw at Sunderland). Their only other wins in 2017 were both 3-1 away (at Middlesbrough and Southampton).

The victory at Southampton rates as easily their best result of the season and none of their other nine wins was against a team currently in the top 11. At home, where their form has been disappointing in their new stadium, their record against the top 11 is W0 D2 L6.

The Hammers' overall record against the elite top seven is W0 D2 L9, which includes a 2-0 defeat at Everton in October when Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley scored second-half goals. The Toffees were in a rough patch before and after that match, which indicates they will be even harder to stop now.

Everton's strong run started before Christmas and their Premier League record is W11 D4 L3 since their last defeat by one of the lower-ranking teams (3-2 away to Watford on December 10). Their only losses during that run have been against Liverpool (twice) and Tottenham.

The concern is whether Everton are clinical enough on the road. Although their last defeat by a team outside the top three was four months ago, they have drawn three out of five on the road against teams below them since then.

Even after the 1-1 draw against Manchester United in their last away game, Koeman was critical of his players' efficiency in the final third after they wasted several opportunities on the counter-attack to secure the win before United snatched a stoppage-time equaliser from the penalty spot.

If Koeman has worked on that area and got his players to be more clinical, Everton should win here. The 'if' is there until they do it but they look a risk worth taking against the ordinary and now more weakened hosts.


Over/Under 2.5 Goals
The Hammers show a marked bias towards over 2.5 goals (20 out of 33, 61%) and even more so against the top seven (eight out of 11, 73%), which reflects their failure to keep a clean sheet against one of the elite clubs (in fact, all of their six clean sheets have been against teams below them).

One of the elite clubs who failed to push the score over 2.5 goals against West Ham was Everton in the reverse fixture and once again much will depend on whether Koeman's team take their chances.

However, seven out of 12 have gone over 2.5 goals when the Toffees have scored on the road and overall a higher score is the more likely outcome.


The Lukaku factor
The speculation over whether Lukaku will leave Goodison Park in the summer must be troubling for Koeman, as the Belgium striker has been central to Everton's success this season. He leads the Premier League scoring chart on 24 goals and has scored in 12 of Everton's 16 wins.

Lukaku has been a constant thorn in West Ham's side and Opta's stats tell us he has scored in each of his nine previous appearances against the Hammers for Everton (all competitions, nine goals in total).

The latest of those goals against West Ham was the opener in the reverse fixture and overall he has scored in 11 of his 18 appearances against bottom-half teams.

That makes him a decent bet to score at [1.81] and the Anytime Wincast with Lukaku to score in an Everton win is worth considering.


Ref Watch
Roger East gets a relatively rare outing in the Premier League, only his ninth of the season. His first five games all had high card counts, including two sendings-off, but he has been quieter since his return to the top flight at the end of January.


Recommended Bet
Back Everton to win at [2.26]


Opta Stat
Both teams have scored in each of the last seven Premier League games in which the Hammers have hosted Everton, although this is their first meeting at the London Stadium. Both teams to score is [1.65].

***


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Andrew Atherley 2016/17 Season P/L

Staked: 33pts
Returned: 39.97pts
P/L: +6.97pts

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