Benitez explains why West Ham are major outlier in Everton fixture list

Date published: Friday 15th October 2021 4:36 - Jonny Whitfield

Everton boss Rafael Benitez clapping the fans after beating Southampton at Goodison Park

Everton boss Rafael Benitez has insisted that Sunday’s Premier League clash against West Ham will prove defining in their season so far.

The Toffees have made a solid start to the campaign and sit fifth after seven games. Indeed, they only sit two points behind leaders Chelsea and are in the current running for the top four.

However, many have tipped Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United to make up the rest of the Champions League places.

As such, Everton could fight for a spot in the Europa League alongside the Hammers. David Moyes‘ men finished sixth last season, but were only two points outside the top four.

They have made a flying start to life in Europe and Benitez wants his side to be playing on the continent.

However, he told his pre-match press conference that clashes against the teams around Everton – such as West Ham – are often more important than the consistency over a season.

“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,” Benitez said.

“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.

“If we can get three points, it will be really good for the confidence here.”

Benitez, Moyes in career changes

Rafa Benitez Everton

Benitez and Moyes are long-term features of the Premier League and they have history on Merseyside, ahead of Sunday’s match at Goodison Park.

Still, that was when Benitez coached Liverpool and Moyes worked at the Toffees.

“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,” Benitez said of the pair’s change in career paths.

“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.”

Benitez talks Newcastle takeover

Yasir-Al-Rumayyan Newcastle chairman

Asked about Newcastle’s takeover, the former Magpies boss said: “That’s a tricky question, I was not expecting that.

“The point is that I have a very, very good relationship with Newcastle United fans, with the city, everyone.

The Analyst: Man United, Tottenham and Everton capable of comeback wins this weekend

“There are so many things that we can talk about, I prefer just to stay away from that and just wish them all the best. Sorry about that.”

Everton and West Ham both won 1-0 in the Premier League clashes between the teams last term.

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