On too many occasions during this frustrating season, this Everton team has not only fallen massively short of expectations, it has struggled to simply do the basics — find a man with the ball, string more than a couple of passes together, move into space, get men into the opposition box and defend set-pieces in their own — and it left you wondering how what is undeniably a talented group could have been so unable to get the fundamentals right.
The debate has often boiled down to Marco Silva’s powers of coaching, motivation and inspiration which, as manager, it inevitably must but there is undeniably a huge psychological dimension to the Blues’ travails this season. Inject a little confidence and self-belief into those collective veins and this can be a very different outfit.
Despite concerns to the contrary, Silva appears to have done that despite the potentially crippling mental blow of the 3-2 reverse at Newcastle and a first-half against Chelsea that could have been just as damaging. What Evertonians have witnessed since the halfway stage of that game against the West Londoners at Goodison a fortnight ago has been a completely different side and if it’s any indication of what could lie ahead under Silva, there is reason to be very optimistic indeed.
Because today was easily Everton’s most complete performance of the season; a robust, energetic and dominant display that should — and but for an ongoing lack of clinical attacking would — have been even more emphatic. 2-0 flattered a shell-shocked West Ham side who were described afterwards as shambolic, a term that ignores the visitors’ role in simply overwhelming them.
Kurt Zouma returned to central defence after being unable to face his parent club last time out and resumed his increasingly important partnership with Michael Keane and but for one hairy moment when Marco Arnautovic escaped to collect a ball over the top but lost the chance to challenge Jordan Pickford one-on-one when he slipped over the Blues’ defence was impregnable.
In midfield, Idrissa Gueye was back to his fatigue-defying, machine-like best, tackling everything that moved, while the majestic and seemingly effortless André Gomes who had wowed Evertonians when he was finally able to make his debut last September returned in full force alongside him.
Add in two rampaging full-backs in Lucas Digne and Seamus Coleman, a much-improved performance from Richarlison, the tireless work-rate of Gylfi Sigurdsson and Dominic Calvert-Lewin and top it off with a man-of-the-match outing from Bernard and you had the recipe for a hugely enjoyable and encouraging afternoon.
The notable exception to that list is, of course, Pickford, who had his quietest afternoon of the season which, in the context of his efforts to refocus for club and country following the events at St James’s Park earlier this month, will have suited him down to the ground.
Everton restricted their hosts to just three shots all afternoon and while the statistics who West Ham had one effort on target, it’s hard to recall where it came from. This was all about Silva’s team and a new-found relentlessness that belied any potential disruption from the international break and helped them to a handsome victory, their first in the Capital for two years.
Importantly, they were at it from the off with the kind of intensity with which they began the second half against Chelsea and it yielded a goal inside the first five minutes. Richarlison, deployed on the right flank once more, won a corner on the right and the resulting set-piece from Gylfi Sigurdsson was swept into the box where Zouma rose over Issa Diop to bounce a header off the turf and into the top corner of Lukas Fabianski’s goal.
Exploiting the right-hand channel again in the 12th minute, Sigurdsson sprung the offside trap to release Calvert-Lewin who made a beeline for goal but his shot from the angle was repelled by the keeper and Fabianski made a second save to parry the Icelandic international’s follow-up shot.
Twice Calvert-Lewin was inches away from connecting with balls slid across the six-yard box, one from Richarlison and the other from Bernard, and Digne forced another parried save from Fabianski as Everton kept their foot on the Hammers’ neck.
That pressure told again in the 33rd and it came as the result of the sort of movement beyond the ball and precision passing that has been so lacking at times this season. Coleman and Richarlison exchanged passes down the right wing, the Brazilian picking out the Irishman’s run beyond the fullback with a perfectly-weighted ball and he squared it across goal to Bernard who had the simple task of tapping it home from five yards out.
Gomes was running the show in the middle and after gliding passed his man in the centre circle he fed Richarlison with an accurate ball down the channel once more and the winger forced another stop from the keeper who denied him with the an out-stretched boot. Gomes himself might also have scored with a rasping volley but was foiled by Pablo Zabaleta’s excellent block.
Of course, with the memory of the Newcastle collapse so fresh in the memory, no one was taking Everton’s 2-0 half-time lead for granted but there would be no capitulation on this occasion. With Pellegrini having made two attacking changes at the break, the Hammers did enjoy a spell of possession early in the second half where they tried to make inroads into Everton’s stubborn back line but they would be constantly repelled.
Arnautovic was the star of the show at Goodison in the reverse fixture but he cut a frustrated and ineffective figure before he was withdrawn midway through the second half. Bernard, meanwhile, was enjoying his best game for Everton so far, the latest chapter in the story of a player growing into his new surroundings, finding some consistency and getting better and better each week.
After Calvert-Lewin had missed with a couple of efforts, the diminutive winger left his marker for dead brilliantly on the left but Aaron Cresswell ensured that he wasn’t able to create a goalscoring chance for Calvert-Lewin but his compatriot probably should have put the icing on Everton’s cake in the closing stages.
Another Calvert-Lewin effort that had deflected behind off Angelo Ogbonna handed Digne the chance to swing a corner in from the left and Richarlison met it on the run, completely untracked but his header thumped off the crossbar and back out and Fabianski was there again to catch Gomes’s bouncing drive from the rebound.
West Ham used to be Everton’s favourite team to play and, to date, it’s still the club against which they have racked up the most points in the Premier League era but in recent years they have inflicted some painful defeats on the Blues. Indeed, the 3-1 reverse at Goodison Park earlier this season was a sobering reality check on the early season optimism and Everton had failed to win on their two visits to the London Stadium.
This was a pleasing return to form against the Hammers and a performance that once again points to a potentially bright future under Silva. It was almost everything that Everton promised to be under the Portuguese — incisive, dynamic and fluid — but have failed to deliver so often this season.
With the pressure on their collective shoulders easing, Everton are starting to express themselves once again and Silva appears to have found a settled formula that will underpin the push to finish seventh over the remaining six games before the summer business begins.
The key now, of course, is consistency because Blues fans have been here already this term and seen their mounting optimism shattered by a collapse in form but with this performance they laid down a marker for how this team should perform.
Reader Comments (54)
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1 Posted 31/03/2019 at 21:42:41
Big difference was that from the off, we pressed well and were in their faces. That creates space and gives our forward players a chance to do their stuff. Why we can't press like that every game is beyond me.
Should have been four or five. We need a goalscorer, don't care how 'lazy' or 'arrogant' he is. DCL may be the answer in time, but not right now. Hoddle nailed him beautifully on BT.
Great day, now for some consistency, please!
2 Posted 31/03/2019 at 22:00:42
Its incredible how psychologically damaging that defeat at Anfield was. This (and Chelsea) was almost back to how we were pre Anfield. That darn defeat ruined the season
Silva has, baring an end of season collapse, secured his job in the short-medium term
The Summer will be crucial: need 2 goal scorers and need to get rid of a tonne of dead wood
Also need to understand if Bernard and Gomes can add 5-10 goals a season each to their games. If not then theyre not good enough for what we aspire for
Richarlson will get 10, Siggy will get 10. A new goalscorer will get 15-20. We need regular goals from the left and also midfield. If we can get that then we have a chance to crack the top 6
Also, if we can continue to defend set pieces better then great. Still not convinced by Pickford and his staying on the line even when the ball is in the 6 yard box (when is a ball his? Only when shot at goal???). Id genuinely get shut for £40M+
Is Silva the right man? Hes probably as good as were going to get right now. But if he can knit the bond between the players and the fans similar to v Liverpool and v Chelsea at Goodison then we have a chance
Lets smash Arsenal next week and further enhance our own confidence and also Fortress Goodison as a reputation once again. More of the same please Silva
In Silva we trust?
3 Posted 31/03/2019 at 22:37:13
A turning point may have been the seventeen day break in February when the players were given a few days rest following which Silva was able to do some intensive work on the training ground. Since then, the second half capitulation at Newcastle aside, the players have looked fitter, better organised and drilled to work together as a team rather than eleven individuals. Four clean sheets from five games suggests a general tightening up all round the field with players doubling up to close down the opposition and then ready to break forward quickly in threes and fours rather than ones and twos.
We are also now seeing the benefit of playing just one game a week with players having more rest and recuperation while Silva and his staff have had more time to work with players in training.
The most encouraging aspect is that Silva has demonstrated he has what it takes to pull a team out of a trough. We were desperately poor for three months but at last we seem to have a proper team to support.
4 Posted 31/03/2019 at 22:49:11
Delighted the Coleman is getting back to his indefatigable best. Both he and Richarlison seem to be striking up a fairly effective partnership.
5 Posted 31/03/2019 at 23:26:03
I waited a long, long time this season before deciding, on the basis of what I'd seen over 30 games (league and Cup), that Silva was not the manager for this club. I'm not going to reverse course based on two games, no matter how good they were.
Yes, the last month has been fine (except for the Newcastle blunder), but last November was great too, and we saw what happened after that.
6 Posted 31/03/2019 at 23:55:56
Thick or thin, Silva has pretty much stayed with the same 11. Allowing that we're still a work in progress, after 32 games in a row players get to know one another pretty well. It really showed yesterday.
West Ham is an average side, but not exactly mugs. I think the way we climbed right on them and never relented took their hearts. Other than those few minutes starting the 2nd half, they were nowhere.
Felt so aware that Gana is on the radar of a massively rich club and Gomes isn't ours. It will be nice to have them as our midfield partnership the next 3-4 years. Gana is a known quality, one of the best. Not ready to call Gomes a much younger Gareth Barry, but I was thinking it yesterday. They dominated the midfield. I hope there is some way Brands can work to keep them both.
7 Posted 01/04/2019 at 01:09:00
I didn't think we played particularly well in our previous victory against Chelsea, while the Goodison derby draw was devoid of anything that resembled joined-up football. The capitulation against Newcastle was abject.
The win against West Ham was properly glorious; every player working hard, playing with imagination, running off the ball, playing in units, keeping possession, showing discipline with and without the ball. Let's not pretend those are things we've seen much of this season - and I fear it might be hard to replicate against more switched on opposition. Long may it continue though; I'd love to be converted by Silva as it will mean that we've been treated to more of the same on a regular basis.
8 Posted 01/04/2019 at 03:02:17
I managed to see the 20 minute highlights on the official Everton website but would really like to watch the full game.
Does any Toffee Webber on here know of a way to access this - from here in Australia?
From the highlights it looked a brilliant performance against the type of opposition we would usually play badly. Well done to the management and players. Great team effort.
9 Posted 01/04/2019 at 03:47:22
I would really like to watch the full replay - Jay Wood (BRZ) can you help us?
As for what I did see, well the fact that Coleman and Richarlison appear to be forming a partnership on the right is very encouraging because most teams will struggle to contain us if Digne & Bernard as well as Richarlison & Coleman are firing at the same time.
I have said it before but at 55” and 9 stone wringing wet we have some footballer on our hands in Bernard. He will get even better. Zabaleta is no mug.
I am really looking forward to the Arsenal game.
10 Posted 01/04/2019 at 03:56:19
11 Posted 01/04/2019 at 04:45:12
I am not the only Australian-based Evertonian to notice that Optus have regularly missed us out for mini matches and on demand. The talk amongst us yesterday was that there must be RS in charge at Optus! Ha ha
12 Posted 01/04/2019 at 05:13:06
I was even more irked when I noticed that SBS were showing the Man City game on Sunday morning. So why the fuck did Optus not sacrifice that game instead of ours?
13 Posted 01/04/2019 at 05:48:43
London has a population of what, 16 million people? Plus many overseas tourists who come to watch games
Liverpool is 1 million?
They also have second cheapest season tickets in the PL. there is an article in the Guardian about it, they basically pay bugger all rent so have put tickets at low price. We won't be able to do that.
If West Ham were to build their own stadium they may well have chosen to make it smaller
14 Posted 01/04/2019 at 06:05:34
Just hope I survive this world long enough and am fit enough to attend a game at the new ground!!!
15 Posted 01/04/2019 at 06:18:26
Our luck they dropped probably our best performance.
16 Posted 01/04/2019 at 07:16:56
In saying that there is no harm enjoying the moment!
17 Posted 01/04/2019 at 07:46:19
I think some credit has to go to DCL for helping to make things click - he can be a handful. Alex Ferguson said something about application beating natural talent every time and at the moment DCL looks the most likely to make it of our young players.
For sure he needs to work on finishing - he doesn't need to be Aguero but he shouldn't be skying it either.
We've still got Arsenal, United and Tottenham to come so I guess that should tell us something. All chasing CL spots.
I've got tickets to the United game, I'm looking forward to it now.
18 Posted 01/04/2019 at 07:54:31
Everton worked hard from the front the other night, and I would say there is no room for lazy footballers if you want to play this way.
19 Posted 01/04/2019 at 07:59:54
20 Posted 01/04/2019 at 08:00:49
Do you lads have the Optus Fetch TV or are you just streaming it online. I set my Fetch box to record all Everton games and this weekend was the first time it actually paid off. Apparently Optus can show all the games live...and you can record them...but they have a limited number of replays they can show.
Ive just watched the Liverpool mini-match. I think we can say, without doubt, that they have indeed struck some sort of deal with the devil. That last minute goal was as bad as Pickfords gift. Im at a loss. How can a world class keeper come up with that?! God, I hate that football club with all my heart.
21 Posted 01/04/2019 at 08:18:05
22 Posted 01/04/2019 at 09:16:42
Bob - Optus have got it stitched up for another couple of years I think.
23 Posted 01/04/2019 at 09:23:14
Now it is down to your very last paragraph Lyndon, can Silva and the squad reproduce that sort of performance
Tony (18) only one game but if Harry Kane could have produced the work effort, or half of it, that DCL did on Saturday, then Spurs would have walked that game yesterday. To think of the stick Dominic still gets on here surprises me.
24 Posted 01/04/2019 at 09:33:31
We were playing away, mate.
25 Posted 01/04/2019 at 09:47:45
It's the same with momentum; I can't describe it, or measure it, but I sure as hell know when I see it; and I see it now, with EFC.
P.S. Alan  . how dare you refer to Anfield as a 'sewage plant'!
26 Posted 01/04/2019 at 10:01:04
Too little, too late to be too optimistic; one game at a time.
Would be really brilliant if this is finally the turning point for all concerned...
27 Posted 01/04/2019 at 11:03:49
28 Posted 01/04/2019 at 11:03:51
29 Posted 01/04/2019 at 11:05:23
30 Posted 01/04/2019 at 11:23:17
I could have blamed My son, for putting the last ten minutes on for me (you would have deffo blamed me!) but when that Sissoko, ballooned that shot, and then Ali, checked back instead of driving into the box, I think Spurs only had themselves to blame?
I dont think you can play the way Everton played on Saturday, without a willing centre-forward, and if theres a team I want us to strive to play like, it would definitely be Tottenham, (except for the last bit) because they are fantastic to watch, but constantly beat themselves, although I honestly wouldnt rule them out of winning the champions lge just yet?
31 Posted 01/04/2019 at 12:10:21
32 Posted 01/04/2019 at 12:51:09
Now for consistency, which has been the constant downfall for years.
All to play for and a good run in to the end of the season can do us no harm.
The 1983-84, season, the team started gelling and clicked.
Different era but lets hope the cleaners don't change the coffee or tea bags etc this week at FF.
Lets hope the U23s can secure their league and bring some success to this season.
33 Posted 01/04/2019 at 14:28:37
He's got someway to go before he can be compared with the little man, but as Lyndon points out, as he gets more familiar with the country, football, club etc. We'll see some player next year.
Silva and Brands need to move heaven and earth to keep the nucleus of the team together, lots of people have posted what we need in the summer, I might be in a minority but I still think the squad needs to to see more players going out than in.
34 Posted 01/04/2019 at 14:28:40
Brian(#24) Well spotted.
35 Posted 01/04/2019 at 14:51:43
I think his point was if West Ham can get 60000 why are we restricting capacity of a new build to 52000.
As someone who was at GP when we used to get 60000+ gates I was thinking the same thing.
If we carry on playing like we did Saturday and climb up the league 52000 will be inadequate.
36 Posted 01/04/2019 at 16:02:46
It was more than that, it was a statement of how we can play . This was no flash in the pan . That first half we were brilliant, the best football this season . West Ham were chasing shadows .
Make no mistake we are still miles away from the top 4, but this win shows that with consistency we are on the right path . With one or two signings in the summer we can be a threat to all teams next season and get closer to where we want to be.
Jay , agree with that , if WestHam can get 60 000 , we could. I seem to remember last year Dan Meis saying that the site could take 60k max. Maybe there is planning difficulties with that figure?
37 Posted 01/04/2019 at 18:20:16
Dont get me wrong I was drooling over how we played and have watched the whole game again because it was so great to see us play like that for a whole game.
The defence was solid, Keane was quite majestic in fact, Seamus was his old self, Gomes was superb as was Bernard, Richi looked dangerous and didnt squeal once when he was fouled and DCL is improving beyond expectation. All great to watch but we have been here before. We were playing increasingly well until the Anfield derby and then fell apart. Things are going well again but will we fall to bits again next time something doesnt go to plan? Ok we were falling apart in the first half and pulled it around but one and a half great performances are not quite enough to convince me. Has Marco got what it takes to dig in, to rally the team in adversity, to fight back in a game against a better team than West Ham and win? Can our new found defensive solidity hold out against a top side, or even against the likes of Wolves and Leicester or Watford?
I am in the Mike Gaynes camp on this one- I dearly hope that the posters on Saturday night are right and we are on our way and Marco was the right man all along but I will reserve judgement until the next six games have been played as they will tell us one way or another.
In the meantime I continue to enjoy reflecting on that performance but forgive me for wondering if he can plot similar against Arsenal. They will be a tougher nut to crack!
38 Posted 01/04/2019 at 18:21:03
I dont see also the cost effectiveness of upgrading a stadium capacity design, if this was to take place within 5 years of the build.
Planning costs etc but it would be handy for us all to see the final figures and scope for increase in capacity.
Granted BMD, is a tight site, space wise, but thats more rational surely and reason to get the stadium design, right first time?
39 Posted 01/04/2019 at 18:22:10
40 Posted 01/04/2019 at 19:22:59
What are you talking about ???
I can see one poster inviting Steve ferns to take a bow for sticking with Silva, but I don't see a single post suggesting that "Silva supporters were right all along".
Not sure how many posters "you had to smile at" on Saturday night, but I do have some bad news for you . .They're all in your head mate
41 Posted 01/04/2019 at 19:25:15
As you (almost admitted, some time ago...) I was growing weary of the hopelessness of caring/bothering any more... But it now looks like the team is listening to Silva, and playing like what we hoped for.
I'm still waiting for some resilience and fight-back if we get behind early on, but if THAT should happen, I'll happily self-destruct before I moan too loudly...
Why do professionals need a season or more to gel as a team? They get enough money to skip beyond that, is what I hear... But no, if what we see now can be sustained, the players have learned 'by heart, not by rote' where they can find each other. That could never have happened during the first half of the season, so I'm happy now! Whatever happens vs the Arse or ManU, those will be blips if negative!
42 Posted 01/04/2019 at 19:27:29
43 Posted 01/04/2019 at 19:39:30
Ignore that statement then- the rest of my post I stand by.
44 Posted 01/04/2019 at 19:46:12
45 Posted 01/04/2019 at 19:47:40
46 Posted 01/04/2019 at 19:48:33
Video published on social media appears to show the 25-year-old involved in a fracas on a street.
"The club has been made aware of an alleged incident involving one of our players and we are looking into the matter," Everton said.
Pickford played on Saturday as the Toffees beat West Ham 2-0 at London Stadium.
47 Posted 01/04/2019 at 19:53:34
48 Posted 01/04/2019 at 19:58:05
It relates to a video posted on social media which appears to show the England goalkeeper in the middle of a scuffle in Sunderland on Sunday night.
Everton said in a statement: "The club has been made aware of an alleged incident involving one of our players and we are looking into the matter."
49 Posted 02/04/2019 at 00:06:47
50 Posted 02/04/2019 at 17:10:31
Saturday has proved that when given the time and space we can perform at the level desired. The test as is always in the case with Everton is how we perform when the time and space is not there. Two games coming up will give a far better view of whether there is hope for a brighter future.
51 Posted 02/04/2019 at 20:35:35
52 Posted 02/04/2019 at 20:53:36
53 Posted 02/04/2019 at 21:06:55
54 Posted 02/04/2019 at 21:10:42
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