Fighter Niasse Eyeing Prosperous Walcott Link-Up

Oumar Niasse is confident he can develop his productive understanding with the electric Theo Walcott after the pair repeatedly combined to cause West Ham a headache on Sunday.

Senegal striker Niasse scored a beautifully-taken goal and turned in a characteristically tireless performance at the London Stadium after being handed his first start since February.

The 28-year-old's strike was his eighth in only 10 Premier League starts – and 22 top-flight appearances in all – this term. Niasse fired five of his seven shots against West Ham on target and created two openings for Walcott in the former Arsenal man’s short time on the pitch.

England international Walcott played the final 29 minutes against the Hammers after overcoming the calf problem which sidelined him for the previous week’s clash with Southampton.

He was released by Niasse for a close-range shot that was kept out by an exceptional reaction stop from West Ham goalkeeper Adrian – who also saved one-on-one from Niasse in the opening 45 minutes and twice spectacularly denied the Everton forward after half-time.

Walcott had a late goal ruled out after straying fractionally offside to receive a sumptuous threaded pass from Niasse.

The duo’s relationship got off on the best possible footing when Walcott’s headed assist on his debut against West Bromwich Albion in January enabled Niasse to slam home an equalising goal.

They have started together on only four occasions but Niasse is hoping to significantly add to that tally next term.

“I enjoy playing with Theo, he is fast and always running in behind the defence,” Niasse told evertontv.

“As a striker, I can hold the ball with my power and he can make the run in behind – and I can make the runs as well. When I am coming with the ball, you see him working and moving.

“As a striker, if you can play with someone running beyond you, it creates more space for you to come back or run to the other side.

“It has been a while since I started a match but as a professional and Everton player I must be ready for anything.

“I had a lot of chances and a number of shots. I finished one well – and could have finished a couple more but did not.

“It was frustrating to see the goalkeeper making all those saves but that is football.”

Niasse had a fractured start to his 2017/18 campaign but returned to Everton’s first team in dramatic fashion, striking twice to earn the Toffees a come-from-behind victory over Bournemouth back in September – three days after he marked his comeback by scoring off the bench against Sunderland in the Carabao Cup.

The striker, signed by the Blues from Lokomotiv Moscow in February 2016, hit five goals in seven Premier League outings between September and November before a two-match ban disrupted his progress.

Niasse applied all of his famed spirit and tenacity to regain his place in Everton’s frontline back in January but since starting the match at Watford on 24 February had been limited to a series of substitute appearances.

As such, he was pleased to earn his starting chance against West Ham – but disappointed the Toffees could not go into the summer break basking in a winning glow.

Everton’s defeat at West Ham was their first in six matches and the Toffees retained their grip on a top-eight berth despite the result in London.

“It is okay to score (personally) but we did not win and that was all that mattered,” added Niasse. “It is frustrating to finish with a defeat.

“It is always difficult when you go a long time without starting. This season was a bit complicated from the beginning for me because I had no pre-season but at the end we just tried to be strong and finish it well.

“It was a difficult game because West Ham played well, especially in the first half. But it was the last game of the season and the most important thing was that we tried to win. We did not so we have to concentrate for next season.

“We were trying to come back and as a striker you must do everything to get yourself in a position to score goals.

“I try my best to give all I have. I always feel I have to fight to get anything. It is important to keep fighting and that is what I have always done.”