Tony Cottee Column: Great days at Everton but West Ham will always by my team
09:00 21 November 2014
The thoughts of Hammers legend Tony Cottee on their return to Premier League action against Everton, the international break and the African Cup of Nations.
The international break is now well and truly over and that allows us to focus back on what we all love – the Premier League.
The Hammers make that ever familiar trip up to Goodison Park and I more than most know our record in Merseyside isn’t a great one!
It is the one game I tend to look at as the fixtures come out and having played for both sides it’s the one I get asked about a lot.
A lot of people always ask ‘Who do you want to win?’ and while I enjoyed six very happy years at Everton, West Ham will always be my team and the one I hope comes out on top.
Everton had a slower than expected start after letting that 2-0 lead slip against Arsenal and then getting hit for six at home to Chelsea, but they look like they are back on track now and I still feel they will make the top seven, as apart from Chelsea everyone has had an inconsistent start.
They have also had the Europa League to deal with and now with the prize of a Champions League spot, that competition takes greater significance than it has had it previous years.
The outcome of the game will depend on what shape the players who featured in international duty come back in.
These international breaks are the bane of most Premier League manager’s lives and preparation is severely hampered by many of their top stars being involved for their country.
Diafra Sakho and Cheikhou Kouyate were part of the Senegal team that will now go to the African Cup of Nations and on top of Alex Song’s involvement in the competition, that will mean three of West Ham’s better players will now be away for a spell in the new year.
It’s disappointing to have such a big tournament in the middle of the season and I understand why it takes place when it does, but it can have a big impact on the season for any Premier League club, such is the number of African players in the top flight.
But at least this season West Ham’s squad is a stronger one, and hopefully they will be able to do well without the trio.
Lets hope that along with Stewart Downing and Carl Jenkinson they return without any injuries ahead of Saturday’s game, as that will give the Hammers the best possible chance of picking up a positive result.
But once again I will sit on the fence and go with a 1-1 draw at Goodison Park to go into a good set of fixtures for the Hammers.