Everton 0 - 1 West Ham
It’s all very “Everton” that this team exploded into a seven-match winning start to the season, took just a single point from matches against Southampton, Newcastle, Leeds and Burnley and then won four on the bounce in December, a month in which they were expected to struggle mightily as injuries to vital players bit and the fixtures began to pile up. Then, having won another four straight and with the chance to pull within one point of the top of the table, they go and lose at home to a David Moyes team for the first time.
It’s absolutely maddening but, just like the Carabao Cup quarter-final against Manchester United — and, indeed the League game against the same team in November, this defeat exposed the shortcomings in quality and consistency with this Everton squad. It also didn’t help that it was New Year’s Day — Everton have now lost their last five matches played on the first of the year. Different managers, different players, seemingly the same mindset.
One of these sides was playing its third match in the space of six days; the other had had a fixture scheduled for Monday postponed, giving them a six-day period for recuperation and, you would have thought, the energy to go all out in search of three points that would have represented a fifth League victory in a row. It wasn’t so much that you couldn’t tell which was which — Everton didn’t necessarily exhibit any more fatigue than West Ham — but Carlo Ancelotti’s men were frustratingly cagey and unadventurous for long periods and simply inept going forward, a posture that belied the impressive run they were on coming into the game.
Credit to his progress this season, the loss of Alex Iwobi’s drive and unpredictable creativity down the right was a big miss and despite making such a positive impact off the bench at Sheffield United, Bernard wasn’t able to match it. The Brazilian had his moments, the best of which yielded one of only two shots on target Everton would manage all evening and a decent save from Darren Randolph at the end of the first half, but on the whole he was representative of a lack of cutting edge that plagued the home side for almost the entire game.
Bernard has never been a model of consistency so it was the ineffectiveness of his compatriot, Richarlison, that was more worrying. The 23-year-old returned after missing the trip to Bramall Lane under the concussion protocol, but after an iffy 50-odd minutes in that cup tie against United, he had another match to forget down the flanks.
Richarlison has always defied categorisation — neither an out-and-out striker nor a true winger with genuinely tricky dribbling skills, he’s established his career in England as a wide forward using his power and unpredictability to beat opponents but when he is effectively marked or playing without a natural full-back behind him, he cut a very frustrated and unproductive figure. He seems to have fallen into a rut where he believes just running at defenders is enough but over and over he would just end up sloppily giving the ball away.
Without either of those wide men able to influence the game against a Moyes team that sat back and deprived them of the space they enjoy hitting teams in transition, Everton found it tough going but they made things immeasurably worse for themselves with painfully slow tempo and a tendency to recycle the ball backwards time and time again. They compounded that with some very sloppy distribution at times — Mason Holgate, restored to centre-half to accommodate Seamus Coleman’s return and to give Michael Keane a rest, was a notable offender in this regard in the first half while Tom Davies’s pass accuracy went south in the second.
Picking up from his own laudable display in south Yorkshire, Davies had a tidy enough first half in the “Allan role” but was let down by a lack of movement ahead of him and, like Gylfi Sigurdsson who ran around a lot trying to close down passing avenues for Moyes’s team but ultimately offered precious little creativity, it left one pining for the day that Ancelotti is able to select something closer to his first-choice starting XI. The young midfielder didn’t play badly but it was another performance that underlined the fact that — again, like Sigurdsson — he simply isn’t good enough for a side with Champions League aspirations.
It’s understandable that a side that is still make-shift in places wasn’t able to play free-flowing football but the lack of intensity that was so prevalent during that poor run of results between the defeat at St Mary’s and the draw at Turf Moor that was so disappointing. Teams can overwhelm their opponents at times by just upping the tempo and putting them under the cosh but apart from some fleeting moments after James Rodriguez and André Gomes stepped off the bench to significantly improve things, Everton were the epitome of passive.
West Ham had a momentary scare in the sixth minute when Craig Dawson diverted a low Sigurdsson cross towards his own goal, forcing Randolph to reverse direction to pounce on it and one occasion — it might have been the only time in the game that West Ham’s back line didn’t repel anything that was delivered aerially into the box, thereby completely negating the Blues’ threat at set-pieces — where Dominic Calvert-Lewin got his head to a corner but it went well over but otherwise there was nothing of note from Ancelotti’s side until the 45th minute.
That’s when Bernard brought a headed clearance from another corner down on his chest and rattled a half-volley towards the bottom corner but Randolph parried it behind to preserve parity going into half-time.
For their part, West Ham had shown slightly more penetration, better ability to negotiate the press gone closer to breaking the deadlock in the first period. Jarrod Bowen and Tomas Souček had had headed opportunities in front of goal but failed to get enough purchase on the ball while Aaron Cresswell had flashed the ball across Jordan Pickford’s goal with half and hour gone.
Then, after the home side had started the second half with a bit more purpose and energy, the Hammers almost caught them out with a 55th-minute free-kick where Declan Rice found too much space down Everton’s right flank and whipped the ball across the six-yard box. Five minutes later, Pickford was forced to bat away a Cresswell free-kick with a strong right hand and Pablo Fornals tested the keeper with another more tame effort and then planted a free header well wide a few minutes after that.
Moments of incisiveness were all too rare from Everton but Bernard and Coleman combined well in the 63rd minute, although the Irishman’s shot didn’t unduly test the keeper and it would be the Brazilian’s last involvement before he was withdrawn in a double substitution that saw Rodriguez and Gomes come on and Sigurdsson also leave the fray.
The positive change was almost ruined by Coleman’s ill-advised back-header that gifted the ball to West Ham and their own sub, Michail Antonio, was played in only to be foiled by Pickford but Everton improved markedly after that going forward, albeit without being able to carve their opponents open. The removal of a visibly frustrated Calvert-Lewin who once again fed off scraps in favour of Cenk Tosun was a bizarre move that didn’t help and it smacked of “shop window” rather than any belief the Turk could win the game.
The Blues’ forward momentum forced a couple of decent dead-ball situations wide on the left but they came to nothing while West Ham finally made the breakthrough in what had become a disappointingly even contest. Pickford did well to parry away Souček’s 86th-minute shot but Cresswell fired the rebound back into the box, Yerry Mina dangled a leg back to divert it straight into Souček’s path and the Czech slammed it past Pickford.
As Ancelotti remarked after the match, this represented a point dropped from Everton rather than two because, simply put, his team didn’t do nearly enough to win. It was a pretty dreadful performance at a time when they had allowed fans to dare to dream a little again at what kind of surprise the Toffees might be able to pull off this season.
In the wider context, sitting four points off the summit on New Year’s Day is a lot better than many would have predicted but the congestion at the top of the Premier League table means that Everton are only three points above 11th place and are, therefore, as much in the hunt for Europe as West Ham who moved to 26 points with this victory.
While Ancelotti has significantly played down the possibility of Everton adding to their squad this month, there is hope of better performances on the horizon now that James is regaining fitness, Digne is getting close to a return and Allan should be back by the end of the month. The lesson appears to be, however, that as hard as it it may be, it’s pointless getting too high when things are good with this Everton squad the way it is and too low when results aren’t going according to plan. Inconsistency remains the watchword until further quality can be added.
Reader Comments (32)
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1 Posted 02/01/2021 at 17:55:01
What our average game is, I haven't got a clue at the moment, we are so up and down. The dark side know what their average game is and have a benchmark to adjust by.
The positive I'm taking from that game was the formation works defensively and it was only a lucky moment that did us in the end.
When we have all our players back and fit and with energy, this will probably be around the end of January, we will then be able to find this average game and develop from there.
One thing I'm sure of is that if we'd have won that game in the same way WHU won it at the end, there would have been many happy toffeewebers on here with the attitude "It was just one of those games, but we got through it, onward and upward!", without feeling the need for any deep analysis of the win, as there has been of the loss.
2 Posted 02/01/2021 at 18:23:16
Last night reminded me of Fergusonâ€˜s last game in charge last season, when the efforts the team had put in over the previous few weeks had caught up with them, and looking back at that Sheffield Utd game, I'd say we were fortunate we played a very poor team, because our energy levels were already diminishing.
3 Posted 02/01/2021 at 20:53:29
I've said in another thread we've been riding our luck too much lately, we simply can't play out of defense effectively under pressure and our game management, just isn't there.
The only game we've managed properly all season was the the first game of the season, at Spurs we kept the ball and run time down instead of trying a wonder pass for another goal to kill the game off.
The defense isn't too bad we just have fragile midfield. DCL's run looks like it's come to an end and Richarlison looks like he's playing for a club that's mid table in the last couple of games of the season, there's just nothing to play for. James can't do 90 and needs a lot of options and support around him to be effective.
Where were we when Cavani came on to the market for a free?
4 Posted 02/01/2021 at 21:56:00
Richarlison has been poor since he got banned, and with him being the only other really genuine attack minded player in our line up recently, then this has also contributed to Lewin's lack of chances.
I thought last night was very poor, but I saw a style of play that got us into certain areas easily enough, but we then never had the individuals on the pitch to provide that little bit extra. No overlapping fullbacks, or widemen trying to go past their opponent, and we also had a number ten who was shattered.
This present style of play will only take us so far with the personnel that we've been using, but being hard to beat is definitely going to stand us in good stead in the future I'm sure, (hopefully!) although the United game last week was very sobering, because we are a very long way from possessing that type of quality, but that's the reality for me, at least
5 Posted 02/01/2021 at 22:34:34
I'll try to briefly summarise what I've said on the other thread without too much repetition.
We are sat in a very good position despite having not played too great lately and with key players missing who would make a difference.
Richarlison definitely not firing for whatever reason. Allan missing gives Doucoure too much to do on his own. Digne and a fully fit James has cut off Dominic's supply chain. Once we have natural full backs back, I get to see Godfrey in his natural position and by god the lad has impressed already so I can't wait for that.
We've been up and down but so has most of the league. In my opinion, we have managed the season reasonably well. 5th place at this stage is where we would have been pleased with if you'd asked us in August. European qualification is a realistic expectation and we are keeping ourselves in touch with that goal.
Compared to this time last season the squad has improved and the midfield (fully fit) is enhanced. Hopefully this window and the next sees us start next season with Everton being a very different prospect.
We are work in progress but we are progressing.
6 Posted 03/01/2021 at 08:16:30
Richarlison for example has had a poor season let's not mince our words, he's been poor and it's disappointing because I'd have backed him to push on this season and improve again.
We still have problems with a lack of creativity in the middle of the field, neither Gomes, DoucourÃ©, Allan or Davies are creative, whilst Sigurdsson just can't really do it anymore.
I'm surprised that Carlo hasn't used James at number 10 more because for me he's a complete liability on the right and much like Richarlison of late, he struggles to get in the game from out wide.
You can struggle for players through injury sometimes but a small thing with Carlo that does annoy me a little is he doesn't seem very flexible in his formations, either starting the game or actually changing things up during the game.
For example on Friday before West Ham scored why not take off Bernard and throw Gordon on the left, pushing Richarlison up next to Calvert-Lewin for support and going two forwards giving West Ham something to worry about.
Then at the same moment swap Sigurdsson for Rodriguez and put James in a more central position where he could hurt them?
Instead of that all he does is throw bloody Tosun on as lone striker, baffling to me that.
As I say, I'm loathe to criticise the manager but you do have to question the logic of some of his decisions and the pragmatic nature of most of the formations do frustrate me so much.
7 Posted 03/01/2021 at 08:25:36
First Viewing was "live"... Pure anger at so many insipid displays.
Second Viewing: Simple. What a really shit game!
Third Viewing: Similar response to first and second but more analysis from my biased mind plus some liquid refreshment to improve my astute judgements.
1) Calvert-Lewin is just not getting the right service from either wing. He needs to be far more aggresive toward the goalie and defenders.
2) Keane must play. He is the only centre-back who can bring the ball out.
3) Holgate is deficient at bringing the ball out from defence. He can only pass sideways or back.
4) Why do we go abroad to find players? There are great players in all the leagues below us.
5) Godfrey is a great example of very capable player in lower leagues. I would like to see him in mid-defence.
6) We are not nearly aggresive enough.
7) The problem with Everton is inconsistency. However the entire Premier League is inconsistent this season
These are just a few observations posted at 3:00 am. TW is by far the best outlet to get rid of frustrations.
Until we get a fully fit team, we will continue to languish and give inconsistent displays. We badly need speed, speed speed. We are so slow moving out.
Where I am, it is now 3:15 am. I am pleasantly relaxed with the help of a few "Rusty Nails" and my dislike of the RS has increased significantly in the last five minutes. I have watched Everton for 70+ years but I still need help. Is it too late? I now dislike the RS even more than I did five minutes ago.
8 Posted 03/01/2021 at 08:36:02
I couldn't really disagree with too many of those points you make.
On a football pitch the fastest thing to move should be the ball, and we move it so slowly like it's in hot sticky tarmac. Our passing game is horrendous, we give the ball away so much it's maddening.
One thing I've accepted is I don't think, no matter what players we sign, that Carlo will be kind of expansive manager that say Roberto Martinez was. Some will say that's great because defensively most of the time we were dreadful, but going forward we could be scintillating to watch committing so many men to attack.
A year in under Carlo, however, I think his playing style is pretty much clear in stone, regardless of the players, you can coach them to attack in numbers, but the prerogative seems very defence-minded then just try to hit Calvert-Lewin with crosses.
9 Posted 03/01/2021 at 09:03:17
Having said all that, prior to the summer purchases we were utterly dreadful, really, really bad and I feared that Ancelotti had no chance with such utter dross. So it was frankly little surprise when Richarlson, James, Allan and Digne all succumbed to injury that the impetus fell away and the dross returned. Richarlson may have returned, James eventually got on but neither managed to make any sort of impact.
A solid back four, changed to accomodate Coleman and benching Keane was a mistake by Ancelotti, he should have left it alone.
The difficulty of playing such a formation is, as I said a couple of weeks ago, is that DCL is starved of any service.. hence his chances have dried up completely.
Thats no excuse of course, Ancelotti has to fashion a team with what he has, on a good day the are barely adequate on an average day they are poor, on a bad day they are atrocious. We may have a large squad but few of quality mostly made up of average to past it players. Probably at least half the squad needs culling.. but we are were we are. Once everyone is fir I expect we will see some good performances again, hopefully soon, but we need to offload midfielders, play Dacoure, James and Allan in midfield and DCL and Richarlison up front as a pair.
We need to grind out a few more wins until we can reinforce once more..
Not sure what people expect but we have a way to go yet...
10 Posted 03/01/2021 at 09:10:24
11 Posted 03/01/2021 at 09:24:36
I just hope that we can ride our luck and nick points like we have been doing. The funny thing is though, that throughour people have been saying "oh wait till so-and-so is back, then we will start playing again". Unfortunately we had some crap served up with Digne, with Richarlison and with James. Indeed as we all wait for Allan to return, I can recall a few games when he has not excelled.
The one good thing has been the solidity of the makeshift defence. The four centre backs have gelled into a good unit. Unfortunately the manager saw fit to squeeze Coleman back benching the outstanding(but tired?) Keane.
Once again his tinkering backfired. I presume the recent promotion of Tosun is to put him in the window.
However, as you say, we have to work with what we have and if he(Carlo) can continue collecting points and escape many more serious injuries then we could get the high position we all crave.
it's a chicken and egg situation really, as Euro football will attract better quality players. CL qualification would open the door to elite players. They simply don't go to "projects" they want CL football as a given. So I wonder if Moshiri would rubber stamp a big transfer in this window because top four is reachable this season and a Josh King would give us a big boost.
12 Posted 03/01/2021 at 09:41:49
I also hope Carlo sits Richarlison and DCL down together and shows them videos of how Kane and Son team up together - they have almost a telepathic understanding, and work unselfishly for one another, a real joy to watch. Surely Richie and DCL are equally talented, are equally (if not more) hard working, and they are intelligent footballers.
John Boon (7) - interesting observation about Holgate. He seems to have lost that bit of arrogance that he had last season when he was playing so well. He misplaces a lot of his passes, and I just feel that he is not 100% fit. I don't know why Carlo has not played Branthwaite even for a single minute this season. He was a real bright spark in the post-lockdown part of last season, so why is he totally frozen out now? I really feel that with the CBs we have, Carlo should fine-tune his '3 at the back' and have a go again - at least until we find a RB to replace Coleman, who - sad to say - is fading rapidly. Bizarrely, when he tried a Back 3, Carlo had Godfrey at RCB and Holgate at LCB, when everyone knows that should be the other way around. When everyone is available:
Holgate Keane Godfrey
Iwobi Doucoure Allan Digne
13 Posted 03/01/2021 at 09:57:22
14 Posted 03/01/2021 at 09:58:36
Against Sheffield which was a similar game in many respect with little attacking and not much space Iwobi managed to beat his man 6 times. Against West Ham our two wingers Bernard and Richarlison managed one completed dribble between them.
Against a packed organised defense you really need players who can beat their man to open up a little space for others. Even if Iwobi's end product is variable he often beats a man to create a little space for others. Our eventual goal against Sheffield United was due to Iwobi picking the ball up on the edge of our area and bringing it out to the halfway line before exchanging passes with Dourcore and putting in the cross that came out went back in again and ultimately landed for Sigurdsson.
if we are to play a tight defense with full backs often keeping their position then we need wingers who transition quickly and beat a man to open up space.
The much maligned Iwobi has been doing this well recently and neither Bernard nor Richarlison managed it at all against West Ham.
15 Posted 03/01/2021 at 10:29:08
Let's wait and see, I think Carlo understands what he's trying to do but I'm just speaking really from what I've witnessed in certain games, he hasn't gone for the jugular in games that we might have propsered in with a bolder approach.
I don't like the way we just got the forward with high balls all the time and never support him.
Carlo needs to stay for two more years and see how this develops from here in that time.
16 Posted 03/01/2021 at 10:31:13
Davies got plenty of stick but what was his job? To sit and break down their play, which he did. His forward passing was poor on this occasion, but that's not his main purpose. He was outstanding v Sheff Utd and now people call him a championship player at best, give the lad a break.
Richarlison also getting the treatment but Moyesy had clearly targetted him as the outlet, every time he got the ball he had 2 on him. Go back and watch the Fulham game which was his first back after suspension to see how much a difference his running and pressing makes to the team. If he's trapped behind 2 defenders, don't expect him to have a top game. It was a perfect Moyes shutdown masterclass.
After the cup we have 2 away games against teams just 3 points behind where the current style of play may suit. It will need to be a better performance of course, but we MAY be having a very different conversation. Let's hope so.
17 Posted 03/01/2021 at 10:48:46
18 Posted 03/01/2021 at 12:22:15
Iwobi was missed but it's pretty damning that our Brazilians Richarlison and Bernard could get any crosses at all in to DCL. We have one of the best headers of the ball in the league who has added superb one touch finishing to his repertoire.
It is a crime by the whole midfield that there was one cross into the six yard box from open play between the lot of them in an hour and a half. What a damning statistic.
There should be a torture chamber at Finch Farm and if less than ten crosses come in for Dominic it should be used to make the culprits suffer. Failing that the manager needs to sort the issue out fast in another equally stimulating way.
19 Posted 03/01/2021 at 14:06:43
20 Posted 03/01/2021 at 14:59:01
The intent was there but it didn't work. West Ham to be fair were so well organised that we just kept running into dead ends and being forced to come backwards and sideways.
I'm in agreement with not messing with a winning team by the way and ultimately this didn't work, but I can see the reasoning as well as player rotation. More a fan of momentum myself but I guess right now with games coming thick and fast there will be a lot of tired muscles out there.
21 Posted 03/01/2021 at 15:53:21
For the first fifty years of my support it was a fairly even playing field. One great year was 1954 when we were promoted and they were relegated. I am more anti RS when we don't take advantage of a glimmer of light and lose like we did to West Ham. I know my dislike of them is irrational and probably unhealthy but I assumed that all Evertonians disliked the RS and everything about them as much as I do. And while we have been very badly managed for the last 25 years they do seem to get every break that comes along.
I probably sound more irrational the more I write. I just don't really have an answer. In my initial post I was trying to put a little humour into my dislike for the RS. I must be a lost cause because I dislike them even more since I started this post. The only thing I dislike more than the RS is Donald Trump.
22 Posted 03/01/2021 at 16:01:48
23 Posted 03/01/2021 at 16:21:53
The passage of time and gulf in achievements has made that less of a level playing field. Unfortunately for younger generations, they are understandably less confident going toe-to-toe with our red cousins. I too am from a divided family and my youngest brother who was bred on the Moyes years gets dictated to whereas I am a complete feisty gobshite; bitter they say.
Interestingly, whereas it has made us collectively reticent to go at them, I find the modern Kopite, even those within the city and my own family and friends, much more arrogant and condescending than I recall when we used to travel to the Derbies together, go our separate ways at the match and then reconvene to gloat or be ribbed afterwards.
Obviously I am stereotyping and generalising, but collectively they have become a very odd bunch, even the home grown ones. They call us bitter, I call them obsessive sycophants to coin and shamelessly steal a Darren Hind phrase. They are obsessed with themselves and a desire to overly demonstrate how passionate they are about their team, which results in the scenes we witnessed as Man City's coach approach the shoe box.
Probably a different thread so lets not go there but bitter & twisted with reason. Always proud and don't let them convince us otherwise.
24 Posted 03/01/2021 at 16:46:23
Except for very short periods each of them operated on Don Revie's mandate that goes something like, "if the other team don't score then we can't lose."
Against sides we should be thrashing we rarely go all out for the win. Hence, we often face last minute pressure in games we really should have put to bed much earlier.
Carlo must break that kind of safety first tradition or we will never challenge for top honours. It all starts in the players and coaches minds at Finch Farm.
25 Posted 03/01/2021 at 16:50:46
As a member of the defenders union, of course to be successful you need to defend well.
But you don't win if you defend alone. Successful teams win by scoring goals first.Then they worry about defending, not the other way around.
26 Posted 03/01/2021 at 20:37:30
Can we say this about our lot? No, we cannot. Makes my blood boil to think it's just a fucking ball to kick and pass to each other and get it in the opponent's net. So easy.
Why oh why do we look so shit? Heaven only knows. We have done for years and I for one have had enough. I don't even look forward to watching us anymore and that is a very sad thing to say about something you love.
We can't go on making lame excuses every week and listening to people who don't have a clue what it is like to be an Evertonian who cares. Like all Blues, we live in hope that things will change for the better.
We thought we'd cracked it by bringing in Carlo, the jury is still out on that one but I hope for all our sakes he does get it right eventually. Time is running out for a lot of us who may never see us win something again which in a way is tragic because that is why we go and watch them.
A cup to show off would be a dream come true for most of us. Let's see how we get on in this next cup competition, after all dreams are free. NSNO.
28 Posted 05/01/2021 at 18:18:06
That doesn't imply that I would want him back only that I think he knows the Premier better and would deploy the better players to better effect.
29 Posted 05/01/2021 at 18:26:42
One manager has won the league. The other is David Moyes
30 Posted 05/01/2021 at 18:26:42
One manager has won the league. The other is David Moyes
31 Posted 05/01/2021 at 22:18:00
32 Posted 05/01/2021 at 22:21:32
And I would say you are alone in wanting somebody who classifies mediocrity as acceptable over a winner who won't settle for anything but the best.
Ancelotti talks constantly about winning the league and consistently qualifying for the Champions League. Moyes would still be aiming for 10th.
33 Posted 05/01/2021 at 22:41:07
Our most important players have been out and we were awful against West Ham. We need time to build. The start of the season is how well we can play. Think long-term, lads.
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