A lot at stake up and down the league going into home stretch

AS the English Premier League season picks up momentum, heading into the final stretch, points will be fought for with a lot more vigour and test the character of those who really need to show what they are made of.

The encounter between Everton and West Ham United today is one such fixture and could prove a cracker, at that.

The home side, who have played reasonably well under the circumstances this term, will have been buoyed by the outcome of their appeal against a 10-point penalty for an infringement of the league’s Profitability and Sustainability Rules.

That sanction was reduced to six points this week, and while there is still a scar on the Merseysiders, it will surely give them a bit more heat when the Hammers visit today.

West Ham beat Brentford on Monday to chalk up their first league victory in seven outings. They have been that bad.

But that hat-trick by their talisman, Jarrod Bowen, might yet do wonders for them, starting here at Everton.

What was so alarming about that poor run of results for David Moyes’ side was that they just could not score.

In their three defeats before the Brentford win, the Hammers failed to register a single goal.

But that, they will hope, is now all behind them.

The Toffees, on the other hand, will be keen on making home ground count and collecting maximum points.

Sean Dyche’s side has drawn four of their last five league games and lost the other to champions Manchester City.

A win today would certainly be welcome for the home supporters.

Wolves’ visit to Newcastle should also prove an interesting clash.

The Magpies will be keen on strengthening their position in the league from 10th place.

They have won one, drawn one and lost the other of their last three league games.

They did win their FA Cup fixture in midweek and are now through to the quarterfinals, having come through a penalty shootout over Blackburn Rovers.

Wolves are also in the Cup quarterfinals.

And they will believe they can get something from the trip to St James Park.

They are one point and one place ahead of Newcastle in the league standings.

This could make for a fiery clash on a weekend when quite a bit of blood is expected to be spilt. — By SHAUN ORANGE

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