Sam Allardyce says Everton are determined to “excite the fans” when the Toffees bid to sustain their impressive Goodison Park form against Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday.
Everton have claimed 20 points from the past 27 available at home – 17 from 24 since Allardyce saw the Blues beat West Ham the night before his official appointment as boss.
And the manager is urging his side to summon a repeat of their two most recent performances on home turf in what he insists will be a “massively important and “hugely difficult” encounter with in-form Brighton.
“We have to make sure we excite the fans and they will get behind us if we give the sort of performances we gave against Leicester and Crystal Palace,” said Allardyce, who can call on fit-again defensive trio Leighton Baines, Ramiro Funes Mori and Phil Jagielka this weekend.
“Our fans at home have been fantastic since I have been here. They have got behind the team, even when they were not playing too well, and helped them get a result.
“We have to cope with the pressure and deliver for the fans who are very, very important for us home and away. We have to give them something to get behind on Saturday, to cheer us on to win.
“If we lift ourselves to the levels we have shown at home, we can deliver a performance that could win and that would give everybody a bit of satisfaction, rather than the disappointment we suffered in the past two away games.”
Everton have won four and drawn two of their seven home matches on Allardyce’s watch, recording two clean sheets and conceding only six goals in the process.
In those recent victories against Leicester and Palace the Blues were breached only from the penalty spot.
Allardyce is also pleased to be presented with options in defence, with international pair Funes Mori – who featured in the Toffees Under-23s' win over Swansea City on Monday night – and Jagielka in contention to replace the suspended Ashley Williams at centre-half, and left-back Baines ready to return after being sidelined with a calf problem since late November.
“Our injury list isn’t too bad at all,” said Allardyce. “We have a couple of long-term injuries, with Eliaquim Mangala and James McCarthy, but the rest of the players are okay.
“We have Funes back after three Under-23 games, Mangala is out for the season but we have a number of centre-halves we can choose from to replace Ash.
“This is a very important game, we are all aware of the disappointment away from home but we have to look at the home results and say that’s where our bread and butter lies, that is where we have been good. We have only conceded two in our last two games and they were penalties.
"We have played very well at home, the Club has played very well at home over the past few seasons… we have to make sure there is no legacy from the disappointment of the last two away games and be in top form on Saturday, because we need to get a win.”
Everton needed a late penalty from Wayne Rooney to salvage a point from their away match at Brighton in October, and Allardyce is expecting a similarly stern test from Chris Hughton’s men in the return clash.
The south coast club beat Arsenal last weekend to move into the top half of the Premier League table on what is their first season back in the top-flight after a 34-year absence.
“It is outstanding what Chris has done at Brighton, he is a fantastic manager and has proven to be over the past couple of years – and Brighton are reaping the benefits of his managerial experience,” added Allardyce.
“They have accumulated a very good squad, been shrewd in the transfer market and are very organised. It is not just that they are surviving, they are playing exceptionally well, scoring goals and picking up points home and away, so it will be a hugely difficult game and not one we can underestimate.”