A place in the top half of the Premier League table is at stake as West Ham United face Everton, who are hoping to avoid a third consecutive loss.
If certain rumours are to be believed, this could be Sam Allardyce’s final home match as Hammers boss, with his contract due to expire in the summer. Whether he stays or goes, the 60-year-old will be rueful that the club have allowed this season to tail off to the extent that they are now fighting for a place in the top 10.
A poor display at Aston Villa in their last game typified how they have fared in recent months, with goalkeeper Adrian and midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate remaining their only consistently strong performers. And although they knocked Everton out of the FA Cup in January, West Ham have lost the last five league meetings between the sides.
Like their hosts, Everton have a chance of gaining entry into next season’s Europa League due to their position in the Fair Play table. There will be mixed feelings if they do, especially in the knowledge that the extra burden of playing so many extra matches has had a massive effect on their domestic form.
Things had picked up throughout April, but a poor start to May has seen them lose to Aston Villa and then fall victim to a Sunderland smash-and-grab raid at Goodison Park. The latter was a largely dominant performance, which will at least give them confidence going into what looks a tight contest.
West Ham continue to be without strikers Andy Carroll and Diafra Sakho, while defenders Guy Demel and James Tomkins are also unlikely to play again this season.
Leighton Baines is absent for the visitors with an ankle problem, adding to an injury list that also comprises Bryan Oviedo, Darron Gibson, Tony Hibbert and Steven Pienaar.
Think you know your football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in <a href=’http://www.olbg.com/football.php’>OLBG’s tipster competition</a> – £11,000 to be won monthly!
Get upto £200 in free matched bets with bet365 - Click here to find out more