Premier League | Goodison Park | Sat 1 Mar | 3pm
A game that could've been a dead rubber, had they waited a month.
You certainly wouldn't have seen this coming two months ago, but it's West Ham who go into this match in by far the better form. Everton have won just two of their seven Premier League matches in 2014, while the Hammers have won five of their eight, also picking up a creditable point at Chelsea.
- Chelsea 1-0 Everton (Prem)
- Everton 3-1 Swansea (FAC)
- Spurs 1-0 Everton (Prem)
- Everton 2-1 Aston Villa (Prem)
- Liverpool 4-0 Everton (Prem)
WEST HAM FORM
- West Ham 3-1 So'ton (Prem)
- West Ham 2-0 Norwich (Prem)
- Aston Villa 0-2 West Ham (Prem)
- West Ham 2-0 Swansea (Prem)
- Chelsea 0-0 West Ham (Prem)
Although there has generally been a difference in the quality of opposition - Everton lost to Liverpool, Spurs and Chelsea, while West Ham saw off the likes of Cardiff, Swansea and Norwich - it will nevertheless be Sam Allardyce's side that enter this match fully confident and with a weight lifted from their shoulders.
In truth, those two runs of form mean this fixture doesn't quite have the same significance it seemed it would a few weeks ago. Everton's Champions League hopes appear to be dwindling, while West Ham are now most likely only three wins away from safety.
With next weekend's FA Cup quarter-final at Arsenal also in Everton's peripheral vision, this could be the perfect time for West Ham to travel to Goodison Park - where they haven't won since December 2005.
Everton were dealt a sizeable blow with the news January loan signing Lacina Traore will be out for at least a month with a hamstring injury picked up in the warm-up of last weekend's defeat at Stamford Bridge. In addition, Phil Jagielka has been ruled out with a hamstring injury. The pair will be joined on the sidelines by longer-term absentees Arouna Kone (knee), Bryan Oviedo (broken leg) and Darron Gibson (knee). Romelu Lukaku is back in contention after his ankle injury, although Steven Naismith may well start up front.
West Ham have doubts over Joey O'Brien (shoulder), Marco Borriello (hamstring) and Ricardo Vaz Te (shoulder).
Key battle: Seamus Coleman vs George McCartney
Despite the fact West Ham won by two goals in their previous Premier League match against Southampton, there was plenty of defending to be done. Not least by left-back George McCartney, who had to deal with the threat of an in-form Jay Rodriguez attacking from Southampton's right. The former Sunderland man blocked 4 crosses and made 3 clearances as the Irons weathered a storm and picked up three more valuable points.
On Saturday, rather than a wide forward player, the biggest threat to McCartney will come from Everton's right-back slot, where Seamus Coleman has been in fantastic form this season. The Irishman is always willing to push forward - he has already scored five Premier League goals this term - and in the defeat at Chelsea he was constantly looking to get the better of Blues full-back Cesar Azpilicueta - succeeding with 3 of his 5 take-ons.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- W Ham 2-3 Everton (Prem, Sep 13)
- Everton 2-0 W Ham (Prem, May 13)
- W Ham 1-2 Everton (Prem, Dec 12)
- Everton 2-2 W Ham (Prem, Jan 11)
- W Ham 1-1 Everton (Prem, Dec 10)
Roberto Martinez and Allardyce first went toe-to-toe on Boxing Day 2009, when Martinez's Wigan side came from behind to seal a 1-1 draw with Allardyce's Blackburn. There's been a winner in all six of their meetings since (three each), with the most recent being Everton's 3-2 victory at Upton Park in September's reverse fixture.
The pair were involved in something of a spat in 2009, when Martinez (then at Wigan) was reported to have suggested then-Blackburn boss Allardyce was 'an Alex Ferguson loyalist' who was desperate to keep the Scot sweet. The Spaniard quickly stated he had been misinterpreted, but Allardyce - although happy to accept that apology - curtly suggested Martinez focus on his own team in future.
TIPS & TRENDS
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Facts and figures
- Everton have conceded in 11 of their last 12 matches but only once have they conceded more than 1 goal.
- Everton have won their last 8 home matches against middle-third teams including four 2-1 scores and 6 wins by exactly 1 goal.
- This is the fourth time West Ham have won 4 consecutive Premier League games, and twice they’ve won 5 in a row.
- West Ham have failed to beat Everton in their 11 league meetings since 2007/08 despite failing to score just twice.
Another frustrating day for Everton - but the end of West Ham's winning run. 0-0.