Louis Saha makes a very welcome return to the front line, to be supported by Cahill and/or Fellaini in an interesting line-up that has Lucas Neill on the bench. No sign of Jo... presumably injured.
Most of the early play was dominated by the home side, Everton only able to hoof vaguely in the direction of Saha. Everton's first corner, from Gosling, was shockingly poor, attacked by no-one.
Some better end-to-end stuff after 22 mins, Rodwell bursting down the right, Wets Ham responding, trying to get Hines in... Yobo defending well.
On 27 mins, much against the run of play, Louis Saha opened the scoring, Cahill, played it in to him and he instinctively struck the ball on target past a stationary Green GOAL! His ninth of the season.
Fellaini was living dangerously, drawing the wrath of Mr Wiley but Cahill somehow saved him the seemingly inevitable yellow card for his clumsy 'tackling'.
Saha came close to scoring again with a header that bounced just wide. Everton pushed a little stronger toward the break, but Rodwell was booked.
After the break, Hibbert and then Fellaini joined him as Mr Wilely got a little card happy. But Everton increased their lead when Cahill and Yakubu worked the ball to Gosling powered a rebound past Green at the second attempt. That looked to be it for the Hammers but less than 2 mins later they were right back in it when Stanislas forced the ball past Howard although Hibbert may have gotten the last touch.
From that point on, it was almost all Hammers, desperate to turn things their way, and Everton looking repeatedly in disarray as wave after wave of attack threatened Howard's goal, Hines, missing at least two good chances. Heitinga was the fourth Everton player booked.
Saha worryingly went off, clutching his leg in pain, to be replaced by Yakubu; Neill came on for Gosling, and Yobo was the fifth name in the book, for a last-man foul on Hines.that Wiley could perhaps have given a red for.
The Hammers really tried everything and it was a tremendous relief after 5 mins of added time that Everton once again walked victorious form Upton Park, having finally shaken a painful winless streak ahead of yet another goddamn international break.
If you're Everton, there can be no better team to play when you're on a run of seven games without a win than West Ham United. The Blues have taken more points off the Hammers in the Premier League than any other team and they extended that record this afternoon with a priceless victory at Upton Park.
The victory was not easily earned and the visiting support had to endure a nervy conclusion to the game after West Ham halved Everton's lead a minute after Dan Gosling had added to Louis Saha's opener by smashing home to make it 2-0, but the three points were no less gratefully received.
Saha, who was restricted to the bench against Aston Villa last Sunday and then missed the home defeat by Benfica on Thursday completely with a calf strain, passed a late fitness test and led the line from the start in place of Yakubu.
Marouane Fellaini, deployed in the advanced role that seems to fit him best played the supporting role, Tim Cahill moved out to the left side of midfield to fill the void left by Diniyar Bilyaletdinov who started a three-match suspension, and John Heitinga lined up alongside Jack Rodwell in the middle.
David Moyes, feeling the pressure from his side's poor run of results, appeared from the opening exchanges to have instructed his men to get the ball down and pass and they certainly seemed comfortable knocking it around midfield, albeit with little end product in the final third.
Buouyed by a midweek win over Villa and looking to capitalise on the pace and youthful exuberance of their match winner that night, Zavon Hines, West Ham carried the greater threat early on. Sebastian Faubert flashed a dangerous cross across Tim Howard's area in the seventh minute where Franco got a touch ahead of Sylvain Distin but couldn't divert the ball into the far corner, and after 19 minutes, Scott Parker battled his way past the otherwise excellent Joseph Yobo but planted a tame shot into the 'keeper's arms.
Everton, hadn't manage to trouble Robert Green in the West Ham goal but when Cahill controlled a loose ball just outside box in the 27th minute and touched it on to Saha, the French striker swept a sweetly-struck shot low into the corner of the net from 20 yards. Green, surprised and unsighted, didn't even move for it.
Heitinga and Fellaini then appeared to be doing their best to hand the home side a way back into the game before half time with stupid and unnecessary fouls in dangerous areas but, thankfully, both free kicks were wasted by Gianfranco Zola's men.
The Belgian almost atoned, though, a couple of minutes before the break when he won a corner off Spector and Saha met Golsing's kick with a header but it bounced harmlessly wide.
West Ham emerged from the half-time interval with more purpose and more in the way of attacking threat with the introduction of Junior Stanislas in place of James Collison. Together with Hines, the hosts now had double the pace in attack and Tony Hibbert's task of helping keep them subdued was complicated three minutes into the second half when he caught Hines late by the touchline and was booked for his troubles. Fellaini was also yellow-carded for a succession of typically clumsy infringements a few minutes after that before Saha was withdrawn in favour of Yakubu just before the hour mark.
After Parker had seen a cross-cum-shot swing narrowly wide of the far post and Stanlislas had driven inches outside of the other post, though, Everton doubled their lead with their first meaningful attack of the second period.
A rare counter-attack by the Blues ended with Yakubu laying the ball of into space on the right side of the penalty box for Gosling and though Green was equal to his first shot, he could only parry it back into the teenager's path and Gosling made no mistake with his second bite at the cherry, hammering home off the keeper's arm.
2-0 should have been "game, set and match" but straight from kick off, Hammers substitute Diamanti, a fresh presence in midfield who instantly transformed them going forward, sent Stanislas' into the clear with a perfect ball over the top and the young striker clipped it over the advancing Howard. Alive to the danger, HIbbert had raced to the goalline and arrived in time to hook the ball clear at the last second... or so he and all of those watching thought. Instead, he sliced the ball into his own net and West Ham were back in the game.
Sensing an opportunity to salvage at least a point, the Hammers upped the tempo further and after Diamanti had curled a wicked shot inches over the crossbar, Everton received their first let-off of the final quarter of an hour when Hines, clean through, fired wide with just the 'keeper to beat.
A minute later at the end of a lightning break, Baines could only stab Diamanti's pass into the path of Hines but, again, the youngster missed the target and a minute after that, Yobo clipped his heels as he raced onto another incisive throughball, the Nigerian escaping with just a yellow card.
From the resulting free kick, though, Diamanti cleared the defensive wall but was foiled by Howard who dived to his left and pushed his shot away to safety.
The Blues defended manfully in the closing stages and restricted their hosts to just one last chance in the fourth minute of injury time. Parker did well to knock the ball across from the right to Stanislas but Lucas Neill, who came on against his old side midway through the half, did enough to put him off as he pulled the trigger and Howard was able to pounce desperately on the loose ball.
All in all, another performance that was light on attacking threat from Everton but, given the continuing selection crisis plaguing the squad, few will be complaining about three vital points earned away from home.
Yes, there is scope to again criticise Fellaini who continues to bely the massive transfer fee Moyes paid for him and, unfortunately, the Belgian looks no closer to finding his true form or his best role in the current side. Worse, his discplinary problems from last season seem to be rearing their ugly head again.
On the plus side, Rodwell put in a terrific shift in midfield, Baines was excellent defensively, Cahill was his usual tenacious self, Heitinga's performance leaned just far enough on the side of positive to be deemed successful, and Saha... well, what can you say about a player who can transform a game with a sweet swing of his left leg? Nine goals so far and, fitness permitting, the Frenchman is on course of a 20-goal haul this season.
Next up, a two-week break to rest some weary legs and allow the likes of Leon Osman and Steven Pienaar to recover from injury ahead of the trip to Old Trafford on the 21st.
Player Ratings: Howard 8, Hibbert 7, Yobo 8, Distin 8, Baines 8, Heitinga 6, Rodwell 8, Gosling 6 (Neill 6), Cahill 7, Fellaini 6, Saha 7 (Yakubu 6)
It may be slight at the moment but there's an air of desperation starting to creep into Everton as the season grinds its way into November while victories continue to elude them and the horizon for the returns of key personnel like Mikel Arteta and Phil Jagielka is receding rather than getting closer.
The Blues haven't won now since beating BATE Borisov on 1st October. Since then, they've been knocked out of the Carling Cup, twice been comprehensively beaten by Benfica, been held at home in the Premier League on three successive occasions and face a hat-trick of away league defeats as they travel to East London to face West Ham this weekend.
Gianfranco Zola's side who are on something of a high after bagging their first win since the opening day with a last-gasp winner over Aston Villa in midweek and they'll probably fancy their chances against an Everton team low on confidence and goal threat.
David Moyes has been forced to come out in the press this week and assume the blame for a poor run of results that has noticeably coincided with a worsening injury crisis and, in particular, the loss of Steven Pienaar. The South African will again be missing this weekend as his recover from a knee injury stretches into it's eighth week, though he has been pencilled in for a return against Manchester United in a fortnight's time.
Moyes's task at Upton Park, undermined by the fresh blow to morale inflicted by the news of Artea and Jagielka's respective setbacks, has been made even more difficult by Diniyar Bilyaletdinov's three-match ban which begins this weekend. The Russian was shown a straight red at the end of last week's draw with Villa and won't be available now until the Merseyside derby on 29th November.
So, with Leon Osman also still out with a foot injury, the manager will be further starved for creativity in a midfield that will almost certainly feature the returning John Heitinga, Jack Rodwell, Marouane Fellaini and Tim Cahill, and perhaps Dan Gosling.
Up front, Louis Saha will be given every chance of proving his fitness with a late check on the calf strain that kept him out of the Benfica defeat on Thursday but Yakubu, still without a goal in the League so far this season, will likely lead the line from the start — even if the Frenchman does pass that fitness test, it's unliklely Moyes will go 4-4-2, particuarly away from home, even if it would be nice to see him give it a go to compensate somewhat for the lack of ideas in midfield.
West Ham look likely to be without Carlton Cole and Heria Ilunga in addition to longer-term absentees like Dean Ashton, Luis Boa Morte, Callum Davenport and Kieron Dyer.
With a worrying gap opening up between Everton and the European places they covet, a win in this game would be a massive boost to the flagging spirits among the Blues faithful. Much will depend on Fellaini and Cahill, both of whom have been poor of late and whose goalscoring records from midfield this season are a growing cause for concern.
Moyes would no doubt take a late goal off someone's backside if it means three priceless points to take into the international break and the preparations for a daunting trip to Old Trafford after that.
|Premier League Scores|
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|2009-10 Reports Index|
|When Skies Are Grey||Report|
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|Other media reports|
|4 the Game||Report|
|WEST HAM (4-4-2)|
|Jimenez (57' Diamanti)|
|Collison (46' Stanislas)|
|Subs not used|
|Gosling (76' Neill)|
|Saha (57' Yakubu)|
|Subs not used|
|Premier League Scores|
|Saturday 7 November 2009|
|Sunday 8 November 2009|
|Hull City||2-1||Stoke City|
|Monday 9 November 2009|
|Premier League Table|
|After 9 Nov 2009|