Romelu Lukaku vs Jose Fonte
The Belgian powerhouse is definitely the biggest weapon Everton have had against all opponents this season. The 23-year-old is leading the race for the league’s top scorer already netting 24 goals in 32 outings and is the likeliest of players to get on the scoresheet against West Ham United.
He has netted a whopping 14 times with his last 23 shots on target and Slaven Bilic will know quite well that one way of stopping Everton would be to keep him silent. Lukaku has also had six assists in the process so far meaning he is dangerous even when he is not scoring. Which means, Bilic will have to make sure he doesn’t take a shot as well as use his towering height effectively.
And the only centre-half he has, who comes close to be that capable is the Portuguese international, Jose Fonte. The 33-year-old hasn’t been that impressive which earned him a move from Southampton, but he is still the most consistent of the lot that the Hammers have fielded this season. Fonte has won 54% of his average duels and his big frame also ensures Lukaku’s difficulty in dominating aerially.
Ross Barkley vs Aaron Cresswell
This is definitely not an even battle to watch out for by any means. While Cresswell has done really well on the offensive when he chips in the crosses and carves in through balls, his defensive contributions haven’t been that effective. He has just won 46% of his average duels and if game reading and pace on the ball is concerned, Barkley edges past him easily.
The Everton youth product has been nothing short of phenomenal this season being involved in every Everton move. While he has been quintessential from the central midfield, Koeman is likely to deploy him from the wings. He excels in losing his marker and holds a box of trickeries in his bag. He has already had nine assists and four goals to his name so far and will be desperate to increase his tally.
Andy Carroll vs Phil Jagielka
Carroll had returned to the squad with a bang from his long-term injury but has faded out since then. The huge forward is known for his outstanding presence in opponent’s D-box and exquisite finishes, and though he hasn’t been in the best of touches of late, he can pick a goal from anywhere.
Koeman will have his hugely experienced skipper to take cover for him. Jagielka has waited for his chance to come after being benched with the emergence of Funes Mori midseason and hasn’t had a step wrong since then.
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