MX23RW : Wednesday, October 16 12:38:04| >> :600:114124176:114124176:
Mar 5, 2016 at 3pm UK at ​Goodison Park
Attendance: 39,000
West HamWest Ham United
Lukaku (13'), Lennon (56')
Mirallas (34')
FT(HT: 1-0)
Antonio (78'), Sakho (81'), Payet (90')

Preview: Everton vs. West Ham United

Sports Mole looks ahead to the Premier League encounter between Everton and West Ham United at Upton Park.

West Ham United take their quest for an unexpected top-four finish up to Merseyside this Saturday.

The Hammers are just one point behind fourth-placed Manchester City, while hosting Everton appear to be on the right track following a wobble towards the end of 2015.


Roberto Martinez looks on prior to the FA Cup fifth-round match between Bournemouth and Everton on February 20, 2016© Getty Images

When Swansea City left Goodison Park with all three points on January 24, not many tears would have been shed had Roberto Martinez been relieved of his duties in the Everton dugout.

While the Spaniard's playing style and philosophy about the game is widely admired, at that time his side had won just one of their last 10 Premier League matches and were down in 12th position.

Fast-forward to the present day and the Toffees have only risen one place, yet much of the gloom has been lifted. A 1-0 defeat at home to West Bromwich Albion was a low point, but that is the only league defeat that has been suffered since Swansea's triumph.

To Martinez's credit, his team have improved at both ends of the pitch. Four clean sheets have been kept in their last six outings in all competitions, while during that same period 14 goals have been scored.

"I feel that the squad is in a very good moment. We've been very consistent the last six games. We're enjoying our football and playing with a lot of confidence," the boss said following Tuesday's 3-1 win away at hapless Aston Villa.

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

Recent form: DLWWLW
Recent form (all competitions): WWWLWW

West Ham

Slaven Bilic manager of West Ham United gestures during the Barclays Premier League match between West Ham United and Stoke City at the Boleyn Ground on December 12, 2015© Getty Images

A whole host of fanciful names were linked with the West Ham post when Sam Allardyce departed Upton Park at the end of last season.

The likes of Carlo Ancelotti, Jurgen Klopp and Rafael Benitez were all named in the gossip columns and while all have proven themselves at the very highest level, it is unlikely that any of them would have done a better job than the man that eventually took charge.

Slaven Bilic had not exactly excelled in recent stints at the helm of Lokomotiv Moscow and Besiktas, yet he got fans legitimately hoping that some of Europe's biggest teams will be visiting the Olympic Stadium next season.

On Wednesday the Hammers faced a Tottenham Hotspur side that knew a victory would send them top of the table. However, while the scoreline ended just 1-0 in West Ham's favour, that does not do the home team's performance justice.

Bilic's men were quicker, stronger and more creative than Spurs, who can consider themselves lucky to have not been dealt a bigger defeat.

It means that if sixth-placed West Ham can maintain this form, they have a genuine chance of qualifying for the Champions League for the first time in the club's history.

Recent form: DWLDWW
Recent form (all competitions): LWDWWW

Team News

Leighton Baines of Everton during their Capital One Cup Quarter Final at Riverside Stadium on December 1, 2015 in Middlesbrough, England.© Getty Images

Martinez has revealed that Leighton Baines is still struggling with an ongoing ankle problem, yet he is available for the visit of the East Londoners.

He may be required as well, with fellow left-back Bryan Oviedo potentially ruled out by a knock.

Tom Cleverley is ill and unlikely to play, but there is more positive news where midfielders Muhamed Besic and Darron Gibson are concerned, both of whom have shaken off injuries.

England international John Stones was dropped to the bench at Villa Park and he may remain among the substitutes again.

As for Bilic, he has problems in defence. James Collins limped off against Spurs with a hamstring injury and will be out for around three to four weeks.

Winston Reid and James Tomkins will not recover in time, so youngster Reece Oxford may be drafted in to play alongside Angelo Ogbonna.

Up front, there have been suggestions that Bilic is considering giving Andy Carroll a start at the expense of Emmanuel Emineke.

Everton possible starting lineup:
Robles; Baines, Funes Mori, Jagielka, Coleman; Barry, McCarthy; Mirallas, Barkley, Lennon; Lukaku

West Ham possible starting lineup:
Adrian; Antonio, Oxford, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Obiang, Noble, Kouyate, Lanzini, Payet; Carroll

Head To Head

This is a fixture that has been dominated by Everton of late.

The Toffees have not lost a Premier League fixture against West Ham since 2007 - a run that dates back 15 encounters.

You have to go back two years earlier to find West Ham's last win at Upton Park.

When the sides met at Upton Park earlier in the season, Lukaku cancelled out Manuel Lanzini's goal to ensure that the match finished 1-1.

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We say: Everton 1-1 West Ham

These two teams are in decent form, so there is a good chance that there will be very little to choose between them. A draw helps neither in terms of the league table, but that's the scoreline they could well have to settle for.

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Who will win Saturday's Premier League game at Goodison Park?

West Ham
West Ham
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Leighton Baines of Everton during their Capital One Cup Quarter Final at Riverside Stadium on December 1, 2015 in Middlesbrough, England.
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