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Everton hope to emulate home form on the road against struggling West Ham

Toffees make their first visit to the London Stadium seeking first away win in three months

Everton v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

Everton will look to put more pressure on the top six with victory against West Ham at the London Stadium on Saturday.

With Man United not playing until Sunday and Arsenal in FA Cup action, Everton will move back up to fifth place on goal difference with a win.

Both United and Arsenal have games in hand though so remain favourites for a top six finish. All Everton can do is keep on winning and hope they slip up.

And to be fair to Ronald Koeman’s men that is exactly what they are doing, particularly at home where they have won eight on the bounce in 2017.

It wasn’t a vintage performance against Burnley last weekend but they managed to find another gear at just the right time to surge clear of the battling Clarets.

The win maintains Everton’s 100% home league record in 2017, though frustratingly they haven’t been able to replicate that form on the road.

The Toffees have won just once since the turn of the year and that was a last-gasp 1-0 victory at Crystal Palace in January.

To be fair three of their five away games since have been draws, with the only defeats coming against Tottenham and Liverpool. But four wins on the road all season is still a poor return given the quality of the squad.

Saturday represents a wonderful opportunity to improve that record against one of our favourite opposition.

Everton v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Everton just love playing West Ham. They haven’t lost away at the Hammers for a decade, winning six of their last eight league meetings.

Stretching that stat further the Hammers have only won one of the last 17 Premier League games against Everton - a dramatic 3-2 victory at Goodison last March.

We also have Romelu Lukaku, who has scored in all nine of the games against West Ham in an Everton shirt.

He is also the Premier League’s most in-form striker in 2017, with 14 goals from just 23 shots on target.

With stats like that it’s hard not to be optimistic about the trip to the capital. Though if supporting Everton has taught me anything it is to expect the unexpected.

The opposition

Oh West Ham, it wasn’t meant to be like this.

When the Hammers bid farewell to their beloved Upton Park home 11 months ago it was supposed to mark the start of a great new chapter in their history.

Instead it has turned into a nightmare.

After a decent season that saw them finish seventh and qualify for Europe, the move to the London Stadium was supposed to be the perfect platform to make that elusive ‘next step’.

To say the wheels have fallen off is an understatement.

Things started to go wrong pretty much from the off, with the Hammers losing a Europa League qualifier (again) to Romanian side Astra Giurgiu (again).

Five defeats from their opening six league matches saw them slump to 18th in the table.

West Ham United v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Even their new home became something of a millstone around their necks. The was always great affection for their tight, compact Upton Park home but the supporters have struggled to find any love for their new stadium in Stratford.

Poor segregation and stewarding issues led to crowd disturbances, most notably during a EFL Cup game against Chelsea in October.

Hammers fans also complained about the poor atmosphere due to the distance between the crowd and the pitch. Despite £200m being spent on conversion it remains very much an athletics stadium poorly disguised as a football ground.

Three straight wins in December appeared to lighten the mood, before star midfielder Dimitri Payet stunned the club by requesting a transfer and going on strike in January.

Payet eventually got his move and West Ham’s creativity has suffered since (as mentioned by Mike in his tactical preview).

Five successive defeats plunged the Hammers towards the drop zone and although four points from their last two games has eased the pressure, at least one more win is needed to be totally sure of survival.

Sunderland v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

All this has cranked up the pressure on manager Slaven Bilic, who man who carries a grey, world-weary look about him anyway even without the weight of east London expectation on his shoulders.

It’s hard not to feel some sympathy for the former Everton defender given many of the problems suffered by the club this season have been out of his hands.

However, this remains a results business and if the rumours are to be believed even a strong finish to the season won’t be enough to keep him in a job this summer.

Team news

Everton will be without Enner Valencia as he is ineligible to play against his parent club.

James McCarthy remains sidelined with a hamstring injury and may not play again this season. Muhamed Besic is still not ready for a return from his serious knee injury.

West Ham will be without Andy Carroll due to a groin injury while Sam Bryam and captain Mark Noble are suspended.

Angelo Ogbonna and Pedro Obiang also miss out but Diafra Sakho and Winston Reid are set to return.

Final word

Injuries, form and previous meetings all point towards an Everton victory on their first visit to the London Stadium.

It’s all Everton can do if they want to keep their season alive and hope for anything better than seventh (still an achievement in itself, mind).

West Ham look in a bit of disarray with changes seemingly afoot amongst the playing staff and management this summer.

Everton should view this as a great opportunity to improve their away record and keep the pressure on those above them.

Predicted starting XI: Robles, Baines, Williams, Jagielka, Holgate, Gueye, Schneiderlin, Davies, Mirallas, Barkley, Lukaku.