MOMENTUM: Benitez believes a win against West Ham is vital
PA - Peter Byrne
Everton boss Rafael Benitez highlighted Sunday’s clash with West Ham as an important moment in their season.
The Toffees have had a strong start to the campaign and sit in fifth place in the Premier League.
And Benitez feels the clash against a side four places and three points behind in the table could prove to be key.
Benitez said: “So many times we said and I said the league is a marathon and you have to keep running until the end, but there are some moments where you play against teams that are more or less around your position and then it’s really important for the confidence.
“We know that they are a good team, they’re doing well, they did well last year. They have a manager that knows us really well so it will be tough but it’s an important game and, if we can get three points, it will be really good for the confidence here.”
David Moyes was the opposing manager for every one of Benitez’s Merseyside derbies during his Liverpool tenure so it is bound to be a little strange for the pair to meet again at Goodison but this time in the opposite dugouts.
“Maybe he was not expecting that and maybe I was not expecting to see him in the other side but it’s like it is,” said Benitez.
“He’s doing a good job and hopefully we can do well and the fans will be happy with Everton Football Club getting three points. He has a very strong team. It’s not easy when you’re playing in two competitions and they’re doing well at the moment.”
Everton go into the weekend only two points off top spot, and Benitez is determined to push his players to achieve as much as they possibly can this season.
“What I want is to be sure that we are not comfortable in the middle of the table,” he said.
“We have to be sure that we fight for being as high as possible. If we can play in Europe or even go higher than just the Europa League for example it will be better but it’s not that I have a target, it’s just to be sure that we can compete and stay really high.”
Benitez welcomes back Seamus Coleman, Alex Iwobi and Lucas Digne, who pulled out of France’s squad for the Nations League final with a hamstring problem but has recovered.
But he is still without forward pair Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin plus Andre Gomes and Fabian Delph, while Yerry Mina will be checked following his return from international duty with Colombia.
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