LIVERPOOL (AFP) – Everton captain Phil Jagielka says his side must attempt to use their FA Cup third-round tie at home to West Ham United on Tuesday to turn their faltering season around.
Everton have lost four consecutive games in the Premier League, which has seen them slide to 13th place, four points above the relegation zone, and are in desperate need of something to spark an upturn in results.
However, the weight of history does not favour Roberto Martinez’s side, with West Ham having won their last four FA Cup ties against Everton in a run stretching back to 1963.
The last meeting between the teams in the competition came in 1991, when the east London club triumphed 2-1 in a sixth-round tie.
But Jagielka has urged his team-mates to forget that record and their recent league form, and reignite their campaign.
“We’re very frustrated at the moment because results are a lot poorer than we expect,” the England defender said.
“But it is up to us to turn the corner. It is going to be a tough period before the next league game and obviously with the FA Cup now we need to turn the season around.
“I think confidence is quite low throughout the team due to the results. We’ve got some really talented players and we’ve been playing some OK football, but unfortunately, the results haven’t shown that.
“It’s only up to us to pick ourselves up, to start performing better and hopefully start winning games.”
Martinez will check on the fitness of Kevin Mirallas (ankle) after he was withdrawn at half-time in Thursday’s 2-0 loss at Hull City, while James McCarthy could return after missing that game with a hamstring injury.
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce is set to ring the changes following a lacklustre display in his side’s 1-1 home draw with West Bromwich Albion, which he put down to a gruelling festive period that also saw them lose to Chelsea and Arsenal.
Winger Matt Jarvis and forward Carlton Cole are likely to start and Mark Noble and Kevin Nolan restored to the midfield.
Club captain Nolan is especially looking forward to the clash, for a variety of reasons.
“Coming from Liverpool and growing up a Liverpool fan, playing under the floodlights at Goodison Park in the FA Cup will be a special occasion,” said Nolan, whose side are currently seventh in the Premier League.
The FA Cup turned out to be a nightmare for West Ham this time last year as they were struggling in the league, prompting Allardyce to field an extremely youthful team at Nottingham Forest, who ended up being thrashed 5-0.