Slaven Bilic accepts West Ham’s meeting with his former club Everton on Saturday will carry extra significance as he attempts to reignite his side’s unexpected top four challenge.
Bilic spent part of his playing career in England with the Merseysiders but his priority now is to ensure the Hammers respond to last weekend's defeat at Watford that left them in sixth place, a point behind fourth place Manchester United.
“Is it a special game for me?" asked West Ham manager Bilic of the match against Everton at Upton Park.
"On one hand yes, on the other no. Every game is special for different reasons. Everton are a great side, big club with good players. It’s a great test for us and I am looking forward to it, definitely yes."
The Hammers' 2-0 loss at Vicarage Road came on the back of impressive victories over Crystal Palace and Chelsea.
Bilic said he was left perplexed by his side’s display against Watford but insisted he knew what needed to be fixed when Everton visit east London.
"Our game against Watford was strange, not for the Premier League, but for us. We weren’t near to our usual levels but overall we look dangerous too, we are scoring quite a lot," Bilic said.
"We lost at Watford, but we know why we lost and we can learn from that and make sure it doesn’t happen again."
West Ham will again be without striker Diafra Sakho but Bilic has been lifted by the return to fitness of Enner Valencia, the Ecuador forward.
"Diafra Sakho is still out, it is nothing major, he did normal training on Thursday last week but then felt something in his thigh. Unfortunately it is a small tear and he is out for Saturday's game. He should be back for
our first game after the international break.
“Enner is fit. We’ve got options at the moment. From a fitness perspective he is in a good way, he just needs to get his match fitness up. He is very close to being ready, but it depends which game that’ll be."
- Everton confidence -Everton head to London lifted by their biggest Premier League win in eight years last weekend.
Roberto Martinez’s side ended a run of three league games without a win as they recorded a 6-2 victory over struggling Sunderland.
And Martinez hopes that performance – in which Arouna Kone completed a hat-trick in a burst of four goals in 21 second-half minutes – will help Everton sign off on a high before the international break.
Martinez, whose side are four points behind West Ham in ninth position in the league, said: “I think our game against Sunderland gave us a real sense of confidence in what we can do going forward.
"We know we need to improve in other aspects but you will always take confidence from scoring six goals from open play."
The Spaniard added: "We see the West Ham game as one of the games of the season for many reasons.
"The best is to highlight that probably Leicester and West Ham have been the best teams in this opening campaign... The West Ham game is as important as a final within a league competition."
Everton could have midfielder Tom Cleverley back following an ankle injury which has kept him out since the end of August.
But Bryan Oviedo is out with a hamstring injury and England international Leighton Baines will not return from ankle surgery until after the international break as the defender is given more time to build up his match fitness.