Date: 1st March 2014 at 5:48am
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Everton hope the comforts of Goodison can help stop their mini form slump as they host an in form West Ham on Saturday. Everton are coming off a tough 1-0 loss away to Chelsea, a result that made it 3 losses in their last 5 and has all but ended their chances for 4th place. West Ham on the other hand put in one of their best performances of the season beating Southampton 3-1 to record their 4th straight win and saw them go from in the relegation zone into the top half. 3pts are vital for both sides as Everton attempt to cling onto that 6ht position and maybe a Europa spot, whilst West Ham would love to continue the rich vein of form they are in

Vital Quotes:

Everton manger Martinez is hoping Goodison can stop the slump saying

‘We feel that we have been unfairly rewarded from our recent performances and when you feel that way you can’t wait to get home and enjoy your football in front of your home crowd.

‘You need a bit of a warm feeling and we get that at Goodison. The team is desperate to perform well and give something back.

‘We know what we are facing, we know we will have to be at our best, but from our point of view we are delighted we are coming to Goodison Park and we will be able to rely on our fans to enjoy our football.

Everton Team News:

As has been the case for Everton in the past few months, they cannot get over this injury plague. Everton look set to be without captain Phil Jagielka for a couple weeks as he has a hamstring problem. On loan striker Lacina Traore is also facing time on the sidelines with a hamstring injury he suffered in the warm up to the Chelsea game, however, his injury is more serious and there are questions about whether he may return to his parent club Monaco. In a bit of good news for Everton, they welcome back Romelu Lukaku who has missed the last 5 matches with an ankle injury, he was fit enough to face Chelsea last week, but was ineligible but with Traore out, he is expected to slot into the line up once again. Long term absentees Oviedo (leg), Kone (knee) and Gibson (knee) are definitely out.

Possible Starting XI: Howard, Baines, Distin, Stones, Coleman, McCarthy, Barry, Mirallas, Pienaar, Barkley, Lukaku

Player to watch: Romelu Lukaku

Lukaku will be welcomed back into the side with open arms on the weekend, with Lukaku and Traore, in addition to Kone all out injured, Everton have fielded a makeshift strike force of Mirallas or Naismith, which hasn’t been too bad, however, Lukaku will bring much more to the table upfront with his pace, power and strength. The Belgian did suffer a lean spell prior to his injury, but Everton fans will be hoping that with the break, he will be fresh and fired up to finish the season the way he started it and scoring goals for fun.

West Ham United Team News:

West Ham had no casualties from their 3-1 win over Southampton, and things are going to get better for Big Sam and his men with Andy Carroll available after serving his 3 match ban following his controversial sending off against Swansea, although given the form of Carlton Cole, and the form of the side, Big Sam might be tempted to keep him on the bench. West Ham are also hopeful on fullback Guy Demel after he overcame tonsillitis during the week. West Ham are expected to be without O’Brien and Borriello, who are both out injured.

Possible Starting XI: Adrian, Demel, McCartney, Taylor, Collins, Tomkins, Jarvis, Noble, Cole, Nolan, Downing

Player to watch: Kevin Nolan

West Ham’s improved form seems to have coincided with the improved form of midfielder Kevin Nolan. The captain was under performing earlier int he season, however, it seems he has found his goal scoring touch once again and was on target in the sides 3-1 win over Southampton. The veteran has a knack of being in the right place at the right time in the box, and the Everton defence will have to make sure someone is mindful of Nolan, because he has the potential to find space in the box to punish sides.

Match Facts & Stats

1. After suffering 2 defeats in 22 games, Everton have now lost 3 games in their past 5 matches

2. Everton have only kept 1 clean sheet in their last 12 games, West Ham on the other hand have had 13 clean sheets, the highest number in the league

3. Everton are currently 11 games unbeaten against West Ham, winning 7 of those, including the last 3

4. The last time West Ham beat Everton in the league was back in 2007 where Zamora netted the only goal in a win at Upton Park. Zamora was also the match winner the last time West Ham beat Everton at Goodison Park in 2005.

5. West Ham have conceded the highest proportion of goals from set pieces this season. 41% of their goals conceded have come from set pieces.

Match Prediction:

Everton have really hit a wall since the start of February, their attacking game has really suffered, and I don’t think it comes as a surprise given the injuries that have amassed during this spell, including several games with all 3 first choice strikers out. Their form at Goodison Park is still very impressive, and at home, they have been more or less unbeatable, barring an unlucky loss to Sunderland in December. West Ham are flying and defensively, they are very impressive and will be hard to break down, something Everton have really struggled to do lately. To me, one goal could win it for either side, but given the recent form of West Ham and Everton, I am sitting on the fence and saying 1-1 draw with Lukaku and Nolan netting the goals. COYB!! LETS BREAK OUT OF THIS FORM SLUMP AND GET THE 3PTS!!!