Everton face West Ham United at Goodison Park tomorrow in a 2.15 pm kick-off hoping for their first three points of the Premier League season.
It’s been a slightly strange start to the campaign from Everton with much-improved and competitive performances overall not however delivering a single win so far.
If the Blues’ had had additional forward options available in those previous matches it’s possible the Toffees’ would have that elusive win by now.
But, without Dominic Calvert-Lewin, injured just before the season kicked-off and having failed to sign any more strikers in time, Everton were unable to get over that line.
After last weekend’s game at Arsenal was cancelled following the Queen’s death, they take on a Hammers side who have also found this campaign a tough one so far.
While David Moyes’ side have got a win under their belts, they have found additional points hard to come by too.
The East London side were also on the wrong side of VAR last time they played, against Chelsea, as were the Blues’ in the Merseyside derby.
Although the Toffees’ had some cause to feel aggrieved about Conor Coady’s goal being ruled out and the failure to send off Virgil van Dijk for a tackle that would have got a red card in many other games, West Ham had even more reason to be outraged when they were denied what seemed to most a perfectly good equaliser at Stamford Bridge.
I’ve said this before but I think VAR and the officiating that surrounds it, has some major problems which are becoming clearer with every passing week of Premier League football.
The sort of inconsistencies that so often seem to favour certain clubs so much of the time, and the obvious failures of officials to referee with necessary consistency again and again, cannot go on.
I think eventually it will surely begin to seriously damage the credibility of the League and that will impact on the commercial success of the product.
Anyway, let’s hope that the outcome of tomorrow’s match does not hinge on a VAR-related decision.
West Ham have, like Everton, been involved in low-scoring games and have only lost by the odd goal or two when they’ve been beaten.
Despite having qualified for Europe in the previous campaign, Moyes’ team have though found scoring goals very difficult this time round, again just as the Blues’.
Partly this is due to the decline in the form of Mikail Antonio who hasn’t been able to replicate the sort of heroics of last season.
As far as the home team are concerned, manager Frank Lampard has recently given updates on the fitness of several stars, including Calvert-Lewin.
Lampard hinted that the former England centre-forward might be ready for a return tomorrow – although it’s far from certain – and that Abdoulaye Doucoure was also healthy again.
Doucoure despite haveing been a virtual shoe-in to start last season, will find it harder to get a place in the Everton midfield now.
The summer additions of Amadou Onana and after long drawn out negotiations, Idrissa Gueye just before the transfer window deadline, together with the excellence of the rejuvinated Alex Iwobi, makes for a very strong potential starting three.
I hope Lampard sticks with that trio and the 4-3-3 formation that was so effective against Liverpool in the derby.
So, can the Toffees’ finally claim that critical first win? It won’t be easy against a West Ham team who will be determined to frustrate them, but hopefully they can find a way to break that duck and really get this campaign moving.