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Everton will usher in the new year with a tough game against West Ham at Goodison Park on Friday.

The Toffees were scheduled to play two games this week, but a COVID-19 outbreak in Manchester City’s bubble meant that their game on Monday was postponed, giving Carlo Ancelotti’s team a decent rest before the visit of the West Ham.

The Hammers, however, last played Tuesday night and head to Goodison Park with just 72 hours of respite as game congestion continues to be a threat.

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December 29, 2020

A win for Everton would keep all four rather surprising top hopes alive heading into 2021, especially considering they are yet to play City as a result of Monday’s postponement. For West Ham, it’s an opportunity for them to get off to a good start to the season and stay in the top half of the table.

When is the Kick Off? Friday january 1
What time is the start? 17:30 (GMT)
Where do you play? Goodison park
TV channel / Live broadcast? BT sport 1
Referee? Kevin friend

Richarlison
Richarlison leaves the field against Manchester United | Visionhaus / Getty Images

Summer signing James Rodriguez will be unavailable against West Ham due to injury, but Carlo Ancelotti is hopeful to have the Colombian back for his FA Cup tie against Rotherham on January 9.

Richarlison is available once again after recovering after being retired against Manchester United under concussion protocol. However, Allan and Lucas Digne are not available to the Toffees. The former is expected to do so in late January, while the latter is preparing to return to training after an ankle ligament injury.

For visitors, David Moyes runs out of Arthur Masuaku for the trip to Merseyside after knee surgery. The 27-year-old is expected to return in late January.

Michail Antonio returned to the court as a late substitute against Southampton, but Moyes has expressed caution about his return to the side.

Everton: Pickford; Holgate, Mina, Keane, Godfrey; Doucoure, Davies; Iwobi, Sigurdsson, Richarlison; Calvert-Lewin.

West Ham: Fabianski; Coufal, Dawson, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Rice; Bowen, Lanzini, Soucek, Fornals; Lounges

The Toffees have racked up some impressive wins in the league despite exiting the Carabao Cup at the hands of Manchester United last week.

A close three-point fight for Sheffield United on Boxing Day was Everton’s fourth consecutive league win, a streak that includes wins over Arsenal, Leicester and Chelsea.

And while Rodriguez’s absence is not ideal, Gylfi Sigurdsson has stepped forward in his absence, scoring the winner against the Blades. Dominic Calvert-Lewin also continues to impress and remains on the hunt for the Premier League golden boot; his 11 strikes put him in second place and only behind Mohamed Salah.

On the other hand, it has been a somewhat turbulent race for West Ham. Moyes’ team has lacked creativity in recent weeks and despite coming back against Brighton twice, they should have started the game much better. It was a similar story against Southampton this week, where the hosts had the best chances of winning the game.

Here’s how each side has fared in their last five games.

Everton
Sheffield United 0-1 Everton (26/12)
Everton 0-2 Manchester United (23/12)
Everton 2-1 Arsenal (19/12)
Leicester 0-2 Everton (16/12)
Everton 1-0 Chelsea (12/12)

West Ham
Southampton 0-0 West Ham (29/12)
West Ham 2-2 Brighton (27/12)
Chelsea 3-0 West Ham (12/21)
West Ham 1-1 Crystal Palace (12/16)
Leeds United 1-2 West Ham (12/11)

Everton will no doubt be frustrated by the postponement of their match against Manchester, knowing that they would have fans present and were facing the Citizens on a roll.

However, the rest will prove vital. In an age where clubs play games without an end, Everton have a few more days to prepare can only do them good.

Alex Iwobi
Everton hasn’t played since Boxing Day | Visionhaus / Getty Images

West Ham still lacks that creative bite in attack and seems more focused on not losing games currently, but preparing for that with tired legs against a rested side will be too much.

Prediction: Everton 2-1 West Ham




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