Everton - West Ham United Preview: Toffees hoping to end the season strongly

The Toffees are targeting back-to-back wins in the Premier League for just the second time this season after beating Aston Villa 3-1 in midweek.

Everton - West Ham United Preview: Toffees hoping to end the season strongly
Everton take on West Ham at 15:00 (GMT) on Saturday 5 March. (Image: VAVEL)

Everton will be hoping to build some momentum when they welcome West Ham United to Goodison Park on Saturday as they aim to finish the season strongly.

The Toffees are targeting back-to-back wins in the Premier League for just the second time this season after beating Aston Villa 3-1 in midweek. West Ham have won both of their games this week with a 1-0 scoreline and could go as high as fourth in the table if results go their way this weekend.

Head-to-head

This is a fixture that Everton have traditionally enjoyed a lot of success in. The Toffees have won 22 games against West Ham in the Premier League, more than against any other opponent. They have also not lost a league fixture against West Ham since 2007, scoring in every single match in that 15-game run.

There was nothing to separate the two teams when they met at Upton Park earlier in the season. Romelu Lukaku cancelled out Manuel Lanzini's goal to earn Everton a share of the spoils.

Everton hoping to end the season strongly

There was some welcome news at the club last weekend that related to the club's activity off the field. The club confirmed last Saturday that Iranian businessman Farhad Moshiri had become a major shareholder in the Merseyside club after purchasing 49.9% of the club.

Roberto Martinez has described it as "an exciting time" for the club and he has claimed that the new investment means that the club needs to aim higher, and from many people's perspectives that is Champions League football. At the moment, Everton are not close to making that ambition a reality as they are currently 11th in the league table, nine points behind fourth-placed Manchester City.

Everton did, however, return to winning ways at Aston Villa on Tuesday having lost their previous league outing 1-0 against West Bromwich Albion and Martinez will be hoping his side can end the season strongly. If the Toffees are to finish the season strongly then they need to improve their home form, starting against West Ham.

The defeat to Tony Pulis' side was their sixth home defeat of the season and their poor home form is a key part in why inconsistency has plagued Everton's season. The Toffees have only won four of their last 16 league matches at Goodison Park this season, losing eight.

Despite their poor home form, Martinez said that his side are full of confidence and the Toffees have reason to be confident heading into this weekend after scoring 11 and conceding just two in their last six games.

Romelu Lukaku scored Everton's third and final goal against Aston Villa on Tuesday. | Image: Getty Images
Romelu Lukaku scored Everton's third and final goal against Aston Villa on Tuesday. | Image: Getty Images

Romelu Lukaku looks to continue goal spree

One player especially operating with the confidence that Martinez mentioned is striker Romelu Lukaku, who in finding the net against Aston Villa took his goal tally to 17 for the season. No Everton player has scored more in a season during the Premier League era.

And if the Belgian scores this weekend, he will become only the second Everton player to score in eight successive games against the same opponent. Only Dixie Dean has achieved that feat - against Bury between 1926 and 1933.

The opposition

West Ham's final season at Upton Park was always likely to create strong emotions and there is a growing feeling that this could turn out to be a special season for the Hammers.

The Hammers are just two wins away from an FA Cup final and their excellent recent league form has even propelled them into genuine Champions League contention. Slaven Bilic's side are one of the Premier League's most in-form sides, having only lost twice since December.

Bilic's side visit Goodison Park looking to make it four consecutive wins, following a 5-1 victory over Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup and 1-0 league triumphs over Sunderland and Tottenham Hotspur.

Everton will need to limit the impact of West Ham playmaker Dimitri Payet and the French international has quickly adapted to life in England with nine goals and eight assists so far this term.

Dimitri Payet has scored nine goals and created a further eight so far this season. | Image: Getty Images
Dimitri Payet has scored nine goals and created a further eight so far this season. | Image: Getty Images

Team news

Leighton Baines is due to see a specialist about pain in his ankle but he is available to face West Ham and he may be required, with fellow left-back Bryan Oviedo a doubt because of injury.

Midfielder Tom Cleverley is also a doubt with illness, while Muhamed Besic and Darron Gibson could make their returns to action.

As for Bilic, he has problems in defence. James Collins limped off against Tottenham with a hamstring injury and will be out for three to four weeks, while Winston Reid and James Tomkins will not recover in time. 17-year-old Reece Oxford may be drafted in to play alongside Angelo Ogbonna in the centre of defence.