Dan Coker's Match Preview

Blast from the past

West Ham United recorded a rare win at Goodison Park on the 14th December 2005. The Pussycat Dolls were number one with ‘Stickwitu’, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe topped the UK box office and, the following evening, Sir Trevor McDonald made his final ITN news broadcast after over 25 years.

Paul Konchesky had seen an effort saved by future Hammers goalkeeper Richard Wright before James Beattie flashed James McFadden’s cross beyond Roy Carroll to give Everton a ninth-minute lead in front of 35,704. The Irons were level ten minutes later when Tomas Repka’s innocuous cross from the right was turned past his own goalkeeper by Toffees centre-half David Weir.

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West Ham seized the initiative in the second half and Marlon Harewood was inches away from connecting with Matty Etherington’s left-wing cross. Etherington was involved in the Hammers’ winning goal, jinking in from the left touchline, beating two players before firing in a shot which Wright could only parry into the path of Bobby Zamora (pictured above) who tucked home the loose ball with 23 minutes left to play. My video below contains the action from this match, as well as interviews with Irons manager Alan Pardew, centre-half Anton Ferdinand and matchwinner Zamora.

Pardew’s Hammers went on to finish in ninth place in the top flight that season, while David Moyes’ Everton finished 11th. Marlon Harewood was the Hammers’ top goalscorer with 16 goals from 46 matches – Danny Gabbidon was voted Hammer of the Year, with Harewood runner-up. Chelsea won the league title in 2005/06 and Liverpool beat the Irons on penalties to win the FA Cup.

Everton have certainly been the Hammers’ bogey side in recent seasons – we have only beaten the Toffees twice in the league, home or away, since April 2007, drawing six and losing 12 in the Premier League since then. The last five wins at Goodison Park have been separated by an 11-year sequence – starting in 1972 before moving on to 1983, 1994, this featured match in 2005 and 2016. Can the Hammers break the sequence or will we have to wait until 2027 for our next win on the blue side of Merseyside?

Everton: Richard Wright, Tony Hibbert (Mikel Arteta), Joseph Yobo, David Weir, Nuno Valente, Simon Davies, Phil Neville, Leon Osman, Kevin Kilbane (Duncan Ferguson), James McFadden (Marcus Bent), James Beattie.

West Ham United: Roy Carroll, Tomas Repka, Anton Ferdinand, James Collins, Paul Konchesky, Yossi Benayoun, Hayden Mullins, Carl Fletcher, Matty Etherington (Christian Dailly), Bobby Zamora (Shaun Newton), Marlon Harewood.

Club Connections

Former Hammer and Toffee David Unsworth is currently in charge of the Under-23s at Goodison Park. He is joined in representing both clubs by:

Goalkeepers: George Kitchen, Richard Wright.

Defenders: William Wildman, George Eccles, Lars Jacobsen, David Burrows, Bob Young, Lucas Neill, John Russell, Alex McCartney, William Kelly.

Midfielders: Harry Dawson, Don Hutchison, Joe Blythe, Mark Ward, Ray Atteveld, Niclas Alexandersson, Danny Williamson, Ian Bishop.

Strikers: Tony Cottee, Chas Crossley, Tony Weldon, Alex McDonald, Mike Newell, Enner Valencia, Nikica Jelavic.

Slaven Bilic played for both clubs and managed the Hammers. Sam Allardyce and David Moyes have managed both the Toffees and the Irons.

Today’s focus though falls on a player who played just 13 matches for West Ham before finishing his career with Everton. Thomas Hitzlsperger was born in Munich on 5th April 1982 but began his professional career in England with Aston Villa in the 2000/01 season, making his full international debut for Germany in a 2-0 friendly victory in Iran in September 2004. After 110 appearances for Villa, the central midfielder moved to VfB Stuttgart in 2005 on a Bosman free transfer.

Hitzlsperger netted his first international goals in a 13-0 European Championship qualifying win in San Marino in September 2006, just a few months after appearing for Germany at the World Cup in his home country. The fluent English speaker was a central figure in Joachim Low’s squad at the 2008 European Championships, starting all three knockout fixtures as Germany finished as runners-up to Spain. After four and a half years back in his native Germany, and one Bundesliga title in 2006/07, he joined Italian side Lazio on a six-month contract in January 2010.

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Hitzlsperger, nicknamed ‘Der Hammer’ due to his ferocious shooting ability with his left foot, became Avram Grant’s first signing at West Ham United in June 2010. He had to wait eight months for his first competitive start after being sidelined with a thigh injury in pre-season training but scored on his long-awaited debut, a trademark bullet of a strike from 25 yards in the 5-1 FA Cup fifth-round win over Eddie Howe’s Burnley at the Boleyn Ground on 21st February 2011. Hitzlsperger’s right-wing corner also created the fourth goal, the inswinging cross headed home by Winston Reid for his first Hammers goal. A similarly thunderous strike led to Hitzlsperger’s first league goal for the Hammers, smashing in a loose ball to round off the scoring in the 3-0 home win over Stoke on 5th March 2011. He also slammed in a 20-yard equaliser in the 1-1 home draw against Blackburn on 7th May 2011. After 13 appearances for West Ham United and three goals, Hitzlsperger’s contract was terminated following the Hammers’ relegation to the Championship and he signed for VfL Wolfsburg in the summer of 2011. My video below shows all three of Der Hammer’s goals for the Hammers.

After one season, he returned to England and joined Everton in mid-October 2012 on a short-term deal lasting until the end of the following January. He made his debut for the Toffees as an 86th-minute substitute in a 2-1 victory against Sunderland at Goodison Park in November 2012 and made his first start when the Blues took on Reading at the Madejski Stadium the following week. On 11th January 2013 he signed an extension to his contract, keeping him at the club until the end of the season, with his last appearance for the Blues being as a sub in the home fixture against Reading in March 2013. He made nine appearances for the Toffees, without scoring.

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In September 2013, aged 31 and following his release from Everton during the summer, Hitzlsperger announced his retirement from football citing the strain of “many transfers and some injuries”. He had won 52 caps for Germany, scoring six goals. Now 36, Hitzlsperger became the most high-profile footballer to date to come out as gay in January 2014.

Referee

The referee on Saturday will be Martin Atkinson. 2018/19 is Atkinson’s 14th as a Premier League referee. Since West Ham United achieved promotion back to the top flight in 2012 Atkinson has refereed 21 of our league matches, officiating in nine wins for the Hammers, three draws and nine defeats. Atkinson is pictured below in his most recent Hammers match, our 4-1 defeat at Swansea in March. His other Hammers appointments last season were our 1-1 home draws with Leicester and Bournemouth in November and January respectively, our 3-0 home defeat to Brighton last October and our 4-0 opening weekend defeat at Manchester United in August 2017.

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Atkinson also refereed the Hammers’ FA Cup quarter-final at Old Trafford in March 2016, when he turned down appeals for a penalty after Marcos Rojo appeared to have tripped Dimitri Payet and failed to spot Bastian Schweinstieger’s block on Darren Randolph as Man Utd equalised late on. He also refereed our 1-0 win at Crystal Palace in October 2016, when he controversially sent off Aaron Cresswell for two very harsh yellow cards in quick succession.

Possible line-ups

Everton’s Seamus Coleman, Michael Keane, Phil Jagielka, Yerry Mina, James McCarthy, Beni Baningime and Andre Gomes are out injured for the visit of the Hammers, while Richarlison is suspended. Idrissa Gueye, Theo Walcott, Bernard and Dominic Calvert-Lewin have been passed fit. Everton are unbeaten this season but have won only once, despite leading in three of their four matches. The Toffees have won more Premier League matches (24) and scored more goals (80) against West Ham than any other team.

For West Ham United, Winston Reid, Jack Wilshere, Manuel Lanzini and Andy Carroll are on the sidelines. Chicharito is a major doubt through illness. Hammers manager Manuel Pellegrini turns 65 on Sunday. The Irons’ shot conversion rate is just 5% – only Cardiff, with 4%, have been less clinical in the Premier League this season.

Possible Everton XI: Pickford; Kenny, Holgate, Zouma, Digne; Schneiderlin, Davies; Walcott, Sigurdsson, Calvert-Lewin; Tosun.

Possible West Ham United XI: Fabianski; Zabaleta, Balbuena, Diop, Masuaku; Rice, Obiang, Noble; Yarmolenko, Anderson; Arnautovic.

Enjoy the game – Come On You Irons!