Everton could leapfrog Manchester United into sixth position should they defeat relegation threatened Hull City – a side buoyed by earning a rare three points last weekend.
Should the result go their way and the Toffees do nab the coveted sixth position, Jose Mourinho would be comforted by the fact that he will have three matches in hand to regain it – the first coming on Sunday against struggling Middlesbrough.
Heading into the match, Ronald Koeman may be forgiven for being somewhat distracted by his efforts at retaining the services of star striker Romelu Lukaku. Contract negotiations with the Belgian hitman – currently the Premier League’s second-highest goalscorer – have stalled and the Dutch manager will be under no illusions as to the threat losing Lukaku poses for the club’s future.
The Tigers, whose win over Swansea last weekend may have boosted morale at the club but failed to lift them out of the relegation zone, travel to Goodison Park with history on their side but form decidedly against them. Marco Silva’s side may be undefeated in three encounters with the Toffees, but have lost 11 of their last 12 matches away from the KCOM Stadium.
— Everton (@Everton) March 17, 2017
"We are the big favourites at home and the pressure is on Everton this weekend,” Koeman told reporters ahead of the match. “But it is always dangerous because they fight against relegation and they need points.
"If we keep our concentration in games it is difficult to beat Everton – but it is even more difficult to beat Everton at Goodison Park," he added.
"Of course we do need to improve our performance away – in some (away) games we have improved, we've shown progress, but the results achieved are not the best," the Hull boss told reporters.
"We need to change this situation as soon as possible because the 10 games we have left in the Premier League, not only are there five at home, but five of them are away and we need to take points," he continued.
Everton’s Leighton Baines is expected to pass a late fitness test while his teammates Jack McCarthy (hamstring), Yannick Bolasie (knee) and Muhamed Besic (knee) remain sidelined.
The visitors face a dismal injury record that includes Michael Dawson (calf), Will Keane (knee), Dieumerci Mbokani (hamstring) and Evandro Goebel (calf).