Everton are one of the best-performing teams in the first half of Premier League games this season and Andy Schooler takes them to score early at West Ham on Saturday...
West Ham v Everton Saturday 18 January, 15:00
Two teams who have responded well to managerial change go head to head on Saturday afternoon.
David Moyes has replaced Manuel Pellegrini at West Ham and has overseen two wins in his three games thus far, while Everton have won four and drawn two in the league since sacking Marco Silva. New boss Carlo Ancelotti has been responsible for three of the victories.
So who comes out on top here?
The match result market makes Everton favourites at 2.50 with West Ham out at 3.05 to back up their 4-0 win over Bournemouth in Moyes' only home game so far. The draw is a 3.55 chance.
To me, that all looks about right.
Home discomforts for Hammers
Let's start with West Ham. They've been poor at home all season - some would take it back to the day they moved into their new Stratford home - with only basement-dwellers Norwich having won fewer home points.
They have won only three times and two of those came against the current bottom two.
Prior to that demolition over a woeful Bournemouth, the Hammers had lost four on the spin at home, conceding at least twice in each of those matches.
Problems in goal haven't helped that defensive record. Lukasz Fabianski has barely played, initial stand-in Roberto didn't look up to the job and David Martin dropped a clanger last week at Sheffield United to concede what turned out to be the only goal.
That sorry mess has led to old boy Darren Randolph returning to the club this week but even he arrives carrying baggage.
The Ireland keeper hasn't played since November following a thigh injury and even Moyes admitted on Thursday it was "a risk" to play him in this game. "Ideally we'd have liked to have waited a week longer," added the boss regarding Randolph's second 'debut'.
Goalkeeper is not the only problem for Moyes either. Felipe Anderson and Arthur Masuaku, both of whom started at Bramall Lane, are rated doubtful, while Michail Antonio remains sidelined.
Everton on the up
Everton are better off on that front with only Yerry Mina a fresh concern and even he only played a few minutes as a substitute in last weekend's 1-0 win over Brighton.
That result restored confidence after the FA Cup debacle at Anfield and it's hard to see Ancelotti making many changes.
They look rightful favourites here but, that said, it's hard to back any side which has won only two away games out of 11 (losing seven) with a great deal of confidence, even if there are definite signs of improvement.
At the back, things have certainly tightened up. Since Silva's departure, only Man City at the Etihad have scored twice against the Toffees in the league.
In forward areas, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison are both in good form - it is worth noting that the latter is a bigger price (2.70) in the anytime scorer market despite boasting a better recent record having scored in six of his last 11 league games - while Theo Walcott, who started last week's game, caused West Ham all sorts of problems in the reverse fixture in October.
Everton won that 2-0 and Walcott could well take advantage down the West Ham left where Masuaku is hardly Mr Reliable even when he does play.
Rely on visitors for early goal
And with that front line likely to give the hosts plenty to think about, it is a goals angle which provides the best bet.
It's not going over 2.5 at 1.91, even though 60% of West ham's home games and 73% of Everton's away matches fit that particular bill.
Instead it involves the first half.
Everton have been one of the best-performing teams in the opening period of games this season. If matches stopped after 45 minutes (NB, I know they don't and never will) the Toffees would be sitting fourth.
They've scored in the first half in 13 of their 22 games and away from home that statistic is even stronger - it's seven of 11 on their travels. Given they failed to score in their first two away games, Everton have found the net in the opening half in seven of their last nine away league games. That run includes matches at Manchester United, Liverpool and Leicester.
In addition, they've dominated the first half of their two most recent games with West Ham. They battered the Hammers in the opening 45 in this game last season while at Goodison in October they were also well on top from the opening whistle.
Yet the Sportsbook is prepared to offer even money about it happening again here, against a defence which is far from strong. It looks worth taking.
Lay play a possibility
Those seeking something bigger should also consider the 3/1 about both sides scoring in the first half.
West Ham have also been decent starters. They've scored in the first half of six of their 10 home games and have actually scored first in 12 of their 21 league encounters - not bad for a side sitting 16th.
It barely needs saying but a lay of the team scoring first in this one may not be bad business.
With that 12-in-21 statistic in mind, Mark Noble may also be worth a poke at 19.00 for first goalscorer.
The Hammers' captain is deadly from the penalty spot having scored 18 of his last 19 but showed against Bournemouth that he can score from open play too.
That strike was his second 'first goal' in 18 starts this season.
The price looks a tad high but what puts me off is Everton's record of conceding penalties - just one so far in 2019/20.
Against no side has Everton's Theo Walcott been involved in more Premier League goals than he has against West Ham (10 - 6 goals, 4 assists). Six of these have been away from home (4 goals, 2 assists).