Everton are two games into the new season and looking to make it the perfect start to the campaign with a third win in three. Also, and whisper it quietly since it’s only the second matchweek of the season, a Toffees win (or draw) will see them go top of the table *wink wink*.
Carlo Ancelotti named all three of his latest signings in his starting lineup in the win away at Tottenham Hotspur last weekend, and will likely have the same XI for West Bromwich Albion’s visit today after resting all but Michael Keane for the win against League Two Salford City in the Second Round of the Carabao Cup midweek.
Mikel Arteta’s men kicked off their campaign in impressive fashion with a 3-0 win at Fulham last weekend and the north Londoners are well fancied to record another victory against their rivals from the east of the capital.
Even the most optimistic of Hammers won’t expect anything from this trip to Arsenal, which David Moyes may privately view as an occasion for damage limitation.
Arteta won’t want to make too many changes from the Fulham game, although Dani Ceballos could start in midfield to add a little more creativity in central areas. That could be particularly important given that Moyes will instruct his players to sit deep in a low defensive block.
The Hammers were beaten 2-0 at home by Newcastle last Saturday and although they recorded a midweek victory in the Carabao Cup, there are already questions being asked of David Moyes.
The Hammers are in chaos, with senior players – including the club captain Mark Noble – openly questioning the decision to sell Grady Diangana to West Brom.
The pre-summer plan to bolster the backline with new additions hasn’t yet been realised, as Newcastle learned to their benefit with a 2-0 win at the London Stadium last weekend.
Oliver was appointed to the FIFA List in 2012 and has since refereed competitive and friendly international, UEFA Champions League and Europa League fixtures.
He has refereed West Ham United on 25 occasions, including the penultimate game at the Boleyn Ground against Swansea City in May 2016, and most-recently the 1-1 Premier League draw with Aston Villa at London Stadium on the final day of last season.
West Ham will look to Michail Antonio to lead their counter-attacks, but there is a danger of the lone frontman becoming isolated up top against Arsenal’s three-man backline.
West Ham United was not that bad during Project Restart. The Hammers needed to get results to avoid being pulled into a relegation fight and they were able to accomplish that feat with a 3-3-3 finish that included a win over Chelsea and a draw against Manchester United.
West Ham’s underlying metrics were roughly on par with their actual results but it took a Herculean effort from converted striker Michail Antonio to push the Hammers through June and July.
Instead of building on that modest finish, West Ham have more or less signaled that they are happy with the status quo and even sold off promising youngster Grady Diangana in an “it’s just business” move. It’s a dangerous way of thinking for a team that lacks depth and high-end talent.
Oliver started refereeing in the Northern Premier League from 2003 to 2005 before quickly working his way up through the National League and EFL to reach the Premier League in January 2010.
The 35-year-old refereed the 2007 Conference National and 2009 League One Play-Off finals and controlled the 2016 EFL Cup final and 2018 FA Cup final – all at Wembley Stadium.