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Everton go in search of elusive consistency against West Ham

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Can the Toffees make it back-to-back wins?

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

After the final - and what felt like the longest - international break of the season, Everton are back in action with a trip to the London Stadium to take on West Ham.

The big question remains though: which Everton are we going to see?

Marco Silva’s side have been infuriatingly inconsistent over the past few weeks, even within the same game.

There was the comedy collapse at Newcastle of course, before an extremely shaky start against Chelsea last time out. However, after a few early scares the players responded after the break to secure a decent win and end that long run without a victory against a top-six side.

Everton FC v Chelsea FC - Premier League Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

That was arguably Everton’s most impressive result of the season, though admittedly with little competition.

The challenge now is to maintain that form, something they have struggled to do for much of the season. Everton have managed back-to-back victories just once in the league this season and that was way back in October.

Such inconsistency has made supporting Everton so frustrating this season, as they have become masters of raising - and quickly crushing - expectations.

There are belated signs that progress is being made - they have lost just one in four and kept three clean sheets in that time. But I am wary of getting my hopes up.

Everton FC v Chelsea FC - Premier League Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Stringing a few wins together between now and May would mean little for our final league placing (I now believe seventh and possible European qualification is out of reach and would question whether this team needs a July start in the Europa League anyway) but they desperately need something to build on ahead of next season, while the fans want something to sustain them over the summer.

The opposition

Expectations were high in east London last summer when West Ham spent nearly £100m in the transfer market under new manager - and former Premier League winner - Manuel Pellegrini.

The likes of Felipe Anderson, Issa Diop and Andriy Yarmolenko were recruited to try and launch a sustained bid for the European places.

Unfortunately for West Ham fans things started disastrously with four successive defeats. That was, of course, until they played Everton and came away from Goodison with a 3-1 victory.

Everton FC v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Like Everton a lack of consistency hampered their progress, particularly at the London Stadium, which remains an awkward venue to play and watch football.

However, they have shown signs of finally settling into life at Stratford and victory over the Toffees would be their fourth successive home win.

That would also make it three successive league victories over Everton for the first time since 1931, with the Hammers usually a favoured opponent of the Toffees.

Everton have secured 24 wins over West Ham in the Premier League era - more than any other opponent.

Team news

Yerry Mina has been ruled out for several weeks and may even miss the rest of the season with a hamstring injury suffered during international duty. That should mean a return for Kurt Zouma who was ineligible against Chelsea last time out.

There’s better news for Lucas Digne, who has recovered from a thigh injury that saw him withdraw from the France squad. Andre Gomes and Phil Jagielka are also available after minor knocks.

Predicted starting XI

Pickford, Digne, Keane, Zouma, Coleman, Gueye, Gomes, Bernard, Sigurdsson, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin.

Final word

I’m wary of being too confident given this team’s tendency to turn out wildly differing performances. But play like they did in the second half against Chelsea and they have a chance.

I’m not getting my hopes up though.