While calling the ninth match of the season a “must-win” does have the feel of desperation, embattled Everton boss Marco Silva has put the phrase front and center heading into Saturday’s showdown with West Ham United at Goodison Park.
There is no hiding the Toffees have been an early disappointment with seven points through eight matches and entering this contest at the top of the drop in 18th place. Everton (2-1-5) have yet to find adequate replacements for defensive midfielder Idrissa Gueye and centre back Kurt Zouma, teenage starlet and striker Moise Kean has yet to open his scoring account since arriving from Juventus, and the set-piece defending has been abysmal.
While there have been rumblings about Silva’s job security in his second season in the blue part of Merseyside, there has been a near-equal amount of talk he is still in owner Farhad Moshiri’s good graces despite the challenging start. That is why there was some surprise when the Portuguese manager declared getting all three points so vital.
“When I say to you it is a must-win game, it is a must-win game, we should win that game, we must win that game to get the three points and get a better position on the table and grow our confidence,” Silva told Tribal Football. “It’s important for the fans to keep the faith. Of course they want more and they deserve more. Our players are sticking together.”
Silva did not repeat the phrase this week addressing the media, but it was clear the urgency of the situation continues to be stressed.
“When you have tough moments as a football team – and this is a tough moment for us as a club and our fans – we have to do even more and then we will see [results] on the matchday,” the gaffer said. “As a team we have to show more, that strong character and personality that will have us playing to our best level again – and achieving what we want in every single match.
“There are more points to win and we have to be really strong to win the next match – then the confidence will come again.”
Everton have averaged 1.33 points in the 46 matches Silva has been in charge, an underwhelming return in general and when compared to the 1.42 points per match gained under predecessor Sam Allardyce.
West Ham United (3-3-2) are just two points out of the top four spots, trailing Burnley for seventh on goal difference, but are looking to stabilise with backup keeper Roberto for at least the next three months. No. 1 Lukasz Fabianski tore a thigh muscle in Hammers’ 2-2 draw versus Bournemouth on Sept. 30 and is the second long-term casualty of the season as Michail Antonio suffered a hamstring injury in the Carabao Cup versus Newport County in August.
The 33-year-old Roberto has looked shaky at times – he was between the sticks when West Ham crashed out of the Carabao Cup in shocking fashion versus Oxford United – and his first Premier League start went awry in a 2-1 loss at Crystal Palace before the international break.
“Every time that you lose you must be concerned, but I think the Palace game was one that we didn’t deserve to lose,” West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini told the club’s official website. “We had more opportunities than them, they had just two set pieces. We missed some goals, but that is football too – you need to be concentrated on set pieces. Of course we need to create as much as we can and have a great finish.
“We lost those points and now we must recover them playing against Everton.”
The Chilean manager has concerns at the other end of the pitch, where the Irons have only 11 goals from their first eight league matches. That is a sub-standard return considering they have already played five teams in the bottom half of the table. Sebastian Haller has lived up to expectations as their record summer signing has four goals in all competitions, but Felipe Anderson – who held that distinction after coming abord last summer – has yet to score in nine contests.
West Ham holding midfielder and England international Declan Rice is likely to be a match-time decision as he deals with an illness.
The road team won both matches last term, with West Ham riding a first-half brace by Andriy Yarmolenko to a 3-1 victory at Goodison Park. Gylfi Sigurdsson gave the Toffees a lifeline with a goal in first-half stoppage time, but Marko Arnautovic restored the two-goal advantage just after the hour.
(Marco Silva photo courtesy Everton official Twitter account)