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Everton-West Ham United Preview
Looking to find the positives amid a season of failed expectations, both Everton and West Ham look to move themselves further from the relegation scrap Saturday when they clash at London Stadium.
Neither side are in a dire situation, but the match does mean more to West Ham (6-4-11), who are in 16th ahead of resurgent Watford on goal difference and only one point above the drop. The Irons have lost eight of their last 11 in league play (3-0-8) and can make the clase they deserved better on Jan. 10 when they lost 1-0 at Sheffield United.
West Ham nearly grabbed a point with a last-gasp equaliser, but VAR ruled midfielder Declan Rice had handled the ball in the buildup to Robert Snodgrass' goal in stoppage time. Rice was understandably incandescent after the match, telling Sky Sports: "I've just watched it back. He has knocked the ball into my hand. If you are running with your arms like that with the rules as they are now it is handball but it is not intentional. It is a kick in the teeth. I can't get over it, he knocked it into my hand. It is not intentional handball.
"I think it is the thoughts of every Premier League player, not just me - pretty much every one doesn't want to have VAR in the game," Rice continued. "There have been so many decisions this season that have been absolutely crazy."
West Ham have split their two matches in league play since David Moyes returned for his second stint in east London, though he is looking to help the Hammers improve their home form. The 4-0 win over Bournemouth in his debut ended a four-match losing streak at London Stadium, and they have won back-to-back league matches just once this term.
"I think we've got a lot of confidence we took from our home game where we beat Bournemouth 4-0, so we want to take that into the next game," Moyes told the club's official website Friday ahead of facing his former club. "We have to try and find that form, that level again, and hopefully we can do that.
I think winning our home games will be vital between now and the end of the season. We've got to get ourselves away from the position we're in, so every home game is vital - as is every away game, but I think your home games give you that added advantage. We have to try and make that work for us."
Moyes may gave recent returnee Darren Randolph his debut between the sticks as Lukasz Fabianski is out after aggravating a hip injury versus Sheffield United. Randolph, who made 28 starts for West Ham from 2015-17, was brought in from Championship side Middlesbrough, where the Ireland international had two shutouts in 14 league starts.
Everton, meanwhile, have had longer to stablise under Carlo Ancelotti, and the Toffees (8-4-10) are sandwiched between Arsenal and Southampton on 28 points in 11th place. They shook off back-to-back losses at Manchester City in league play and Liverpool in the FA Cup to fight off Brighton and Hove Albion 1-0 at home last Saturday.
Richarlison's goal on 38 minutes - his second in three matches - separated the sides as Everton also put in a solid shift on the defensive side for their first clean sheet in four contests in all competitions while improving to 3-0-1 in league play since Ancelotti replaced Marco Silva.
While he will not appear in this contest as he continues to recover from a broken ankle, spirits around Finch Farm were raised with the return of Andre Gomes to training. The midfielder suffered the injury in gruesome fashion on a heavy challenge by Tottenham's Heung-Min Son, and Ancelotti stressed the positives of seeing the Portugal international back on the grounds.
"It is really important for us to have him back," he told Everton's official website. "It takes time to recover completely but the fact he feels good in this moment and has no pain, he's started to work individually, is important for us.
"As soon as possible we need this kind of player, with his kind of characteristics. Everyone knows how important he is for the team."
Ancelotti may be forced into one change into his starting XI as centre back Yerry Mina has been unable to train due to a knock. Alex Iwobi has been ruled out of a second straight match through injury but should return to training ahead of Tuesday's home match with Newcastle United.
Everton ran out comfortable 2-0 victors in the reverse fixture at Goodison Park in October as Bernard scored in the 17th minute before Gylfi Sigurdsson secured the three points with a marker in second-half stoppage time. The Toffees are seeking their first double of West Ham since 2013-14 but are 14-8-3 in the last 25 meetings across all competitions.
Updated January 16, 2020