West Ham manager Slaven Bilic has urged his side to end their miserable recent record against Everton when his former club visit Upton Park on Saturday.
Bilic spent three years as a player at Goodison Park and is tasked this weekend with securing West Ham’s first Premier League win over Everton since 2007.
Despite defeat to Watford last time out, victory on Saturday could see West Ham go into the international break in the top four, with Bilic challenging his players to end their Everton hoodoo.
Asked whether a clash against the Merseyside side was a special prospect, he said: “Yes, on one hand yes, on the other no. Every game is special for different reasons.
“Everton are a great side, a big club with good players. It’s a great test for us and I am looking forward to it, definitely yes.
“It must be eight years or so [since West Ham beat Everton]. It shows how difficult Saturday’s game will be. It’s a bit of a surprise to me but it doesn’t worry me too much because those games are in the past.
“It will only affect us if we allow it to, if we think about it too much then it might have an impact on confidence, but we should be able to deal with that.”
Former Croatia coach Bilic is without Diafra Sakho (thigh), but has Winston Reid fit again following a knock against Sunderland last month.
Everton will be full of confidence after dismantling Sunderland 6-2 at home on Sunday – Arouna Kone scoring a hat-trick, with Romelu Lukaku also on target.
Roberto Martinez – likely to be without Leighton Baines, Mo Besic and Tom Cleverley due to a lack of match fitness this weekend – is impressed by Lukaku and Kone’s blossoming partnership.
And, backing the pair to remain a threat, Martinez said: “Everything started with the connection they have at a human level.
“They are very good friends off the field and there’s a real good respect for each other. They understood each other for the different pressures on both players, then you can see the understanding on the pitch.
“It’s important to have as many options as you can going forward – you can’t become a predictable side.
“It’s very easy to defend against a specific way of attacking and I think Arouna and Rom have an understanding that can make it very unpredictable.
“They’re two very different strikers, but they complement each other very well.”
Key Opta Stats:
– Everton have won 10 and lost none of the last 14 Premier League matches against the Hammers.
– Romelu Lukaku has scored in all six of his appearances for Everton against West Ham in all competitions.
– Everton have lost just two of their last nine Premier League away games.
– Mauro Zarate has scored in both of his Premier League appearances against Everton.
– Arouna Kone has scored five goals from just seven shots on target in the Premier League this season.
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