Will West Ham pick Carroll or Cole for Everton clash?
15:50 27 February 2014
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Hammers boss Sam Allardyce will choose between his two strikers before Saturday’s clash at Goodison Park
West Ham’s clash with Everton at Goodison Park tomorrow (Saturday) is all about strikers according to manager Sam Allardyce – who will start for the Hammers between Andy Carroll and Carlton Cole? And whether Romelu Lukaku is fit for the Toffees.
The team go into tomorrow’s game looking to extend their four-match winning run and Allardyce has the enviable choice of deciding whether to start with six-goal striker Cole, or recall Carroll after his three-match ban.
“It’s a tough decision based on how Carlton performed last week,” said the manager. “He has been really good. It took him a bit of time to get back into tip-top condition, but now he has done that, he has produced more goals than he did last season.
“Goals are what it is all about at the moment. Our margins are good in terms of the last four games where we have scored nine against just one.
“We have built a lot of confidence from the fact that we came from behind to win 3-1 against Southampton and that is the first time we have done that in the league this season.”
Listening to that, it would appear that Allardyce will keep the starting line-up that has appeared in the last three Premier League matches, but England international Carroll is such a fundamental part of the West Ham team, the boss will be tempted to recall a player who is likely to be champing at the bit.
“Andy is back in the squad,” revealed Allardyce as he went through his team options for tomorrow. “We still have a bit of a problem with Marco Borriello’s calf, while Guy Demel had a severe case of tonsillitis earlier in the week, but he is back in training, so we hope he is going to be ok.
“We have a squad that is big and strong and confident at the moment.”
West Ham sit 10th in the league at the moment, a far cry from just a few short weeks ago when the Hammers were languishing in the bottom three and many were calling for Allardyce to be sacked.
“I don’t think you forget those days, you use them as a spur to go and get more results,” said the manager.
“It is not difficult at my age and experience to know you have to stick to your principles. I think in the early days you get distracted by the amount of euphoria there is, but you have to stay as calm as you can and continue to promote what works.”
Allardyce has certainly done that in the last few weeks, though he knows the trip to Everton will be the toughest they have faced since Chelsea at the end of January.
“A lot depends on if Lukaku is fit, because without him they haven’t been as big a threat in front of goal,” explained Allardyce.
“Naismith has done well in scoring, but the rest of the team have faltered so if we can take advantage of that we can get a result.
“Four wins on the trot builds a huge confidence in the team and we will need all that confidence to beat Everton. We know how tough a game it is going to be.
“I watched their two live games against Tottenham and Chelsea and I think they would have been really gutted they didn’t get any points out of those games.
“So even though they have lost three out of their last four it is going to be an exceedingly tough match.
“Sooner or later Everton will get back to winning ways, we just have to make sure they don’t do that this weekend.”