The disappointment from last week's injury time loss at Stamford Bridge has yet to fully dissipate, and following a string of poor results extending back to the capitulation in the Merseyside derby in January, Everton go into Saturday's game against West Ham United very much in need of a win. The Hammers are currently on a four game winning streak, their best run since 2007, and Sam Allardyce's side will likely provide stern opposition for a Blues team that has been struggling for form of late.
The full extent of Lacina Traore's hamstring injury is still unknown, but the on-loan Ivorian will be missing for several weeks at the very least. His absence will be mitigated somewhat however, by the return of Romelu Lukaku. The Belgian striker hasn't played since being stretchered off in the defeat to Liverpool, but will likely return to the starting 11 to face the team against which he scored his first Toffees goal.
There was more bad news this week though, as Roberto Martinez announced Phil Jagielka will be sidelined for some time after picking up (yet another) hamstring injury. Either John Stones or Antolin Alcaraz will replace the skipper and partner Sylvain Distin in defence.
The Hammers will welcome back striker Andy Carroll after he finished serving a three-match suspension, though given the team's form during his absence he may not start. West Ham will also have to wait and see if full back Guy Demel can recover from a case of tonsillitis to take part.
Keys to the Game
Everton's poor recent results have mostly been put down to a lack of creativity going forward, so it is vital that Lukaku hits the ground running after his month-long layoff. With the Belgian providing a focal point in attack, there should be more opportunities for the rest of Blues' forward line to exploit the space between midfield and defence, while both Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman will fancy their chances on the overlap against the Hammers' full backs.
West Ham's upturn in form has coincided with a superb goalscoring run from their captain Kevin Nolan, and whoever lines up at centre back for the Toffees will have to be wary of the boyhood Liverpudlian's knack for finding space in the penalty area.
- Everton have lost to West Ham at Goodison Park just once since 1983, a 2-1 defeat in 2005.
- The Toffees are currently on an 11 match unbeaten streak against the East London side, and have won each of the last three meetings.
- The last four Premier League games between the sides have seen four red cards, one for Everton and three for West Ham.