West Ham 0 - 1 Everton
Just when you think you’re done with them, they pull you back in, eh?
With another miserable home defeat, this time to Aston Villa last week, Everton appeared to have thrown away their chances of qualifying for Europe this season but, thanks to Leeds United’s win over Tottenham and one more dogged and disciplined performance away from home, Carlo Ancelotti’s men are firmly back in the hunt.
Indeed, win on the road for a club record-tying 12th time on Thursday in the reverse fixture against Villa and the Toffees will be joint-fifth, level on points with West Ham after beating David Moyes’s side in a genuine “six-pointer” at the London Stadium this afternoon.
While the formula for success at an empty Goodison Park continues to elude Ancelotti to a worrying degree, the Italian’s tactics have proved to be suited to these unusual supporter-less away days and another single-goal victory not only keeps the target of Europa League qualification alive, it’s put the Europa Conference League at the least in Everton’s hands with four matches to play.
Not for the first time this season, the goalscoring hero was Dominic Calvert-Lewin with a very well-taken goal midway through the first half but the three points owed just as much to superb battling displays by Allan, Tom Davies and Seamus Coleman in midfield and a fine defensive stand by all of the four centre-halves who were needed to see the job through.
Yerry Mina had been a prime bulwark against the muscular presence of Michail Antonio before he was forced off with a recurrence of his persistent thigh issue with an hour or so gone but Mason Holgate responded well to having been dropped back to the bench by matching the stellar efforts of Michael Keane and Ben Godfrey in a three-man defensive unit.
Given that they started the day still with aspirations of qualifying for the Champions League, West Ham were disappointing and they never looked likely to repeat the feat they managed at Burnley last weekend by coming back from a goal down to win. That was all largely down to Everton, however, who remained compact and determined, gave away very little in the air against a side known for their aerial prowess and frustrated their hosts almost from start to finish, with Said Benrahma’s bad miss in the first half and Vladimir Coufal’s shot off the post in the second the only times the Toffees’ rearguard was breached.
Indeed, Moyes’s complaints afterwards that his side didn’t deserve to lose rang a little hollow seeing as the visitors scored the game’s only goal, forced three good saves from Lukas Fabianski and hit the woodwork themselves late on. The Hammers ended the match having had 69% of the ball but no shots on target and, as Ancelotti remarked afterwards, “possession doesn’t mean that you score goals”.
That didn’t mean that that the second half, in which the Toffees displayed very little interest in keeping the ball for more than a few seconds (apart, perhaps for Jordan Pickford, who held it for 19 seconds in one instance before launching it forward once more) was an easy watch from the Everton perspective. Though Pickford’s goal was rarely threatened, the fear that one of West Ham’s set-pieces might pay off or a shot might deflect in off someone’s backside was ever present as players in blue displayed a maddening inability to keep possession, particularly in the closing stages.
All’s well that ends well, though, and it ended well thanks to Calvert-Lewin and a brilliant assist from Ben Godfrey. The three-man central-defensive unit afforded the young defender a bit more license to push forward with the ball and he did so to great effect in the 24th minute with a perfectly-weighted pass between the Hammers’ defensive line. Calvert-Lewin eased onto the ball as he accelerated away from his marker and beat Fabianski with a tidy finish into the far corner of the net to hand Everton the lead.
Fabianski then had to be alert to push Gylfi Sigurdsson’s free-kick over his bar in the 27th minute and then to deny Richarlison after the Brazilian had latched onto Calvert-Lewin’s flick-on and struck a powerful shot that the Pole beat away.
The hosts were effectively shut down in the first half but they should have levelled six minutes before the break when Benrahma arrived unmarked at the back post to meet Pablo Fornals’ cross but, thankfully, he steered his header off target.
Everton’s offensive production waned in the second half as Richarlison’s decision-making and curious hesitancy to lay the ball off to his strike partner saw promising situations evaporate. The Brazilian worked tirelessly for the team, had caused West Ham all kinds of problems picking up Calvert-Lewin flick-ons in the first half but he was found wanting going forward in the second half before sulking off the pitch seven minutes from the end when he was replaced by King.
The Blues increasingly dropped off in general to contain West Ham’s search for an equaliser, one that almost came to fruition with an hour gone when Coufal’s side-foot shot searching out the far corner came back off the post with Pickford beaten and Jared Bowen couldn’t turn the loose ball over the line from close range.
Coleman, who epitomised the fighting spirit that was required on the day, was denied a goal in the 76th minute by an excellent saving tackle by Jesse Lingard and King came within an inch or so of notching his first Everton goal within a minute of coming on for Richarlison when he rose to meet Calvert-Lewin’s chip but couldn’t plant his header inside the post before it bounced across goal to Fabianski.
All in all, it was another obdurate away display, the kind of professional job that, ironically enough, epitomised Everton under Moyes when they finished fourth in 2005 and that will have carried the Toffees into Europe if they do, indeed, finish in the top seven come the 23rd of May. The return of Abdoulaye Doucouré — he wasn’t needed today and remained on the bench as Fabian Delph was introduced instead for Gylfi Sigurdsson late on — and, potentially, some minutes for James Rodriguez could restore that elusive first-choice XI at just the right moment to conquer the Everton’s mystifying Goodison Blues.
One game at a time, though. Beat Villa first and then worry about the permutations as they pertain to Europe…
Reader Comments (70)
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1 Posted 09/05/2021 at 23:38:05
Now to beat Villa. This for me is as important as the 1984 Milk Cup battle-semi in context of progress and building a plan to progress the club.
I'm confident Everton can beat Villa this Thursday night.
2 Posted 09/05/2021 at 00:00:33
I thought Allan had his best match since returning from his hamstring injury. He lacks pace but his covering, intelligent interceptions and quick, positive use of the ball were key to the team managing the transition from defence to attack.
The performance did not tell us anything new. It reinforced the need for the club to find more players who are comfortable dominating possession and taking the game to opponents.
3 Posted 10/05/2021 at 01:47:36
4 Posted 10/05/2021 at 04:37:52
It's time he is dropped to the bench. The dude is getting more and more useless.
5 Posted 10/05/2021 at 07:04:10
Very extreme for a crucial player who maintained the high press, retained possession, won fouls in dangerous positions, gained ground going forward, and provided the run diverting a defender to give Calvert-Lewin the space to score the goal.
Richarlison's final-third passing is hindering his game, not allowing him to thread the ball through or play one-twos and causing him to keep possession too long. He can still shoot, though it is from in front of the opposition defence and engages at least two defenders to stop him.
I am sure Ancelotti, who has made great strides in Richarlison's runs and positioning, will be working on the passing, Richarlison will be first to be selected by Ancelotti for what he is already doing.
6 Posted 10/05/2021 at 09:08:23
John Raferty (@2), just said on the other thread, Allan doesn't get enough credit for always wanting to play forward, something we criticise this squad a lot for.
7 Posted 10/05/2021 at 09:15:12
We lost at home to Aston Villa last week with the most dire performance. Now we are set to play them away on Thursday and I am expecting a good performance and a win.
8 Posted 10/05/2021 at 09:31:31
One game at a time, Villa next on Thursday and still all to play for with four games to go. You can't ask for more than that given the home performance over the season to date.
Doucouré will surely get some minutes as it's a hectic schedule from now to the finish line.
9 Posted 10/05/2021 at 09:33:18
I couldn't add anything to that post, very good.
I am a big fan of Allan so I was disappointed with his game last week versus Villa, he didn't look like himself at all. I think it was because he was doing two or three men's work.
Yesterday, he had plenty of players doing their jobs with him, particularly Davies, who still gets plenty of stick while doing a very good job.
10 Posted 10/05/2021 at 09:43:08
Has any team qualified for a European competition with a home record as poor as ours?
Has any team failed to qualify for a European competition with an away record as good as ours?
Has any team's away-to-home percentage of points been skewed as much as ours?
However, if we read statistics a certain way, then a conclusion is:
Home fans are really missed at Goodison.
Travelling Blues, for God's sake stop going to away matches, we're awful when you lot turn up!
11 Posted 10/05/2021 at 09:51:16
Allan, Davies and Doucouré all have the tenacity to press in midfield and all instantly look forward. This could be a great combination at home with James wanting the ball and the front two making runs like they did yesterday.
12 Posted 10/05/2021 at 10:00:25
Tom came out earlier in the season saying how he was learning from Allan. Good combination of youth and experience.
13 Posted 10/05/2021 at 10:09:50
To have James, Allan and Doucouré playing for the last few games would be brilliant but I still fear for the central defence. I think we may have seen the last of Mina for the season and I cannot see Holgate with Keane in the middle again... We have something to play for and players back, at last.
14 Posted 10/05/2021 at 10:16:37
Tom Davies in front of the defence with Allan and Doucouré either side doing the pressing.
The 3 in front of them (all fit), James roaming then Richarlison & Calvert-Lewin.
15 Posted 10/05/2021 at 10:37:57
They looked like they want it against West Ham. Perhaps, they can a take a bus around the block, come back to Goodson and pretend that they are playing away, given our home form.
16 Posted 10/05/2021 at 11:42:38
17 Posted 10/05/2021 at 11:45:07
It aims up how football has gone now, more and more a noncontact sport; it doesn't help when so-called footballers go over as if shot!
18 Posted 10/05/2021 at 11:54:13
"The side ain't bad – it qualified for Europe" will be the delusional mantra...
19 Posted 10/05/2021 at 12:09:21
I think that's what Martinez wanted, to get into Champions League via Premier League position or via success in the Europa League. The tactic means you have to accept a drop in league form when you go for it in the (arduous) cup.
20 Posted 10/05/2021 at 12:11:59
Everton have suffered because of not having that other option of a class striker, and obviously Carlo doesn't really fancy King as a starter, so they have to buy for next season; otherwise, it will be more of the same.
21 Posted 10/05/2021 at 12:17:28
We're not starting next season with the same squad, but if we get European football, we can attract different players.
And I'm being selfish as I want the European trips!
On a serious note, it starts somewhere. Our winning of Europe's then 3rd tier competition still rates as one of our greatest nights along with the home leg semi-final that got us there.
22 Posted 10/05/2021 at 12:17:38
I thought our player like that was Richarlison. But I'm now thinking that actually it is Calvert-Lewin. With the Euros in the summer, and Martial (probably) leaving Man Utd, I fear we will struggle to keep him; I think he will be the player that we would miss the most.
23 Posted 10/05/2021 at 12:28:30
24 Posted 10/05/2021 at 13:21:56
Fair enough. I don't think any player is immune from criticism except to say some fans will never give credit when and where it is due, and I've got to put my hands up where Richarlison is concerned. I see his good points, but his bad points get enlarged, in my mind, every time I see him.
25 Posted 10/05/2021 at 13:26:13
He now appears to have the confidence to move forward with the ball and actually pass it forwards instead of backwards and sideways.
He looks to have come on leaps and bounds and long may it continue.
26 Posted 10/05/2021 at 13:40:36
Lightbulb moment. We seem to play so well away from home compared to at home. Should we suggest to Carlo that, for the home games, we arrange a team catch a ride for, say, 2 hours before each game...? It doesn't matter where to! The team spirit seems to build on the bus!!!
[Tongue-in-cheek, of course!]
27 Posted 10/05/2021 at 13:41:18
The Europa Conference League which will extend more into the second half of the second half of the season, instead of the usual one competition end to the last quarter of the season at Everton. It also means more playing time for squad members, and may make it necessary to engage young players more.
There is also the factor that Ancelotti is experienced at European competition level, whilst many of the backroom management are not. No wonder Ancelotti is so determined and vocal in qualifying for Europe. It changes the whole ball game in his favour, and he knows it.
28 Posted 10/05/2021 at 14:06:19
Mind you he's had his ups and downs and it shows how hard it is to break through. He made 24 appearances in the 2016-17 season having only just turned 18.
That's like Onyango (18 in March) or Warrington (18 last October) making 24 appearances this coming season. Both are cracking players but they're behind Tom Davies in their development.
If they do break through, I hope they're shown a bit of patience.
29 Posted 10/05/2021 at 14:22:30
30 Posted 10/05/2021 at 14:27:14
31 Posted 10/05/2021 at 14:30:48
You seem to be forgetting Gbamin!
Ohh, err, as you were.
32 Posted 10/05/2021 at 15:08:29
33 Posted 10/05/2021 at 15:28:41
34 Posted 10/05/2021 at 16:08:15
However I feel we have had these opportunities before and screwed them up so we should beware. With the fixtures remaining, they could conceivably get 12 points, including the Man City game, as City may have other things on their minds.
35 Posted 10/05/2021 at 17:15:21
Tom at 34. I don't think a player can appeal against a red card which was given as 2 yellows, only a straight red.
36 Posted 10/05/2021 at 17:19:53
To qualify for UEFA, you had to do so through league position in the top flight of English football.
That's just how I saw it. Ultimately a great experience and achievement either way.
37 Posted 10/05/2021 at 17:53:43
Richarlison's body language suggests he needs a spell on the bench.
38 Posted 10/05/2021 at 18:41:15
39 Posted 10/05/2021 at 18:51:37
We don't know how he feels about Calvert-Lewinscoring all the goals and getting all the praise. I'm sure he is happy for Calvert-Lewin but wishes he could grab some of the headlines. The only time he looks really happy is when he is scoring goals which he used to do more often than recently.
I would not rest him (or Calvert-Lewin) for King against Villa. We need them to be firing to create problems and hopefully get the win. It will be interesting to see how Carlo shuffles the pack if Doucouré and James are fit and Mina is out.
40 Posted 10/05/2021 at 18:58:43
Now, since no-one actually said what you've "quoted", let's just say, if Everton do make it, we can look at it as a good result.
41 Posted 10/05/2021 at 19:06:48
I hope we do make it. Probably it indicates a storming end to the season. I just worry it will lull us into a false sense of security re the majority of this squad.
We need a huge overall if to challenge and dare I say it (dare! dare!) win something.
42 Posted 10/05/2021 at 19:11:12
Good overall post from David (at 39). He was obviously pissed at being substituted but I would hope he was primed for that at half time. I think his pissed offness was due as much to not finding the onion bag, rather than directed at Carlo.
I had been all for benching him for King but do think we need to keep the faith with him. His mere presence occupies the opposition defence for the benefit of Calvert-Lewin, as witnessed yesterday, and when he clicks again, eventually he will be awesome.
Is there any way we can play all three?
Davies (or Doucouré) Allan
Digne Keane Holgate (or Mina) Coleman
43 Posted 10/05/2021 at 19:12:35
I've seen many players look unhappy when they have been substituted but never as long as Richarlison carried on yesterday. That titty lip, walking off, sitting on his own in the stands minutes later, still scowling like a 7-year-old...
He should be shown that after training at Finch Farm with all the team watching it with him; he'd cop for some stick off them, if he doesn't already get it.
44 Posted 10/05/2021 at 19:17:49
45 Posted 10/05/2021 at 20:34:30
46 Posted 11/05/2021 at 00:29:24
47 Posted 11/05/2021 at 06:51:23
You are right about the free header. Though it was a good result. Everton are still dependent on nicking a goal and a bit of luck defending. They are going to hold on rather than get a second goal.
The good thing was that the goal was well taken and there were more on-target shots. But they are still vulnerable to a goal against.
Workrate and spirit are absolutely essential to get over the line and Seamus is up for that. Ancelotti thought him MotM.
48 Posted 11/05/2021 at 07:45:34
I should have said...
Digne -- Keane -- Godfrey -- Holgate/Mina -- Seamus
49 Posted 11/05/2021 at 07:58:08
50 Posted 11/05/2021 at 07:58:31
And I have to agree with the comments on Davies's sliding tackle being harshly treated. He collected the ball cleanly on each occasion and the player being tackled fell over him. Perhaps referees should ask if they should be giving the free kick to the player on the ground and against the player hitting the tackler with his feet and/or legs. At the very least six of one and half-a-dozen of the other unless the slide tackle makes contact with the player before the ball or takes both at the same time.
Gone are the days of taking both and leaving them the other side of the touchline but unfortunately that classic Bobby Moore tackle would now probably be a bookable offence.
51 Posted 11/05/2021 at 09:37:41
I just watched the highlights of the Fulham v Burnley game last night. In one of Fulham's attacks, their winger was tackled from behind in the penalty area, bringing him down, the referee waved play on. I don't know if VAR was involved but the tackle was worse than Tom's on Sunday.
I think that's what annoys fans, and always has, the different perspective referees have on the same sort of tackle. Today's football it is just ridiculous with most tackles outlawed but some blatant ones allowed.
52 Posted 11/05/2021 at 10:20:17
I don't know whether or not to have some sympathy for referees as some rule changes, particularly offside, make it difficult to determine at ground level and I particularly dislike the almost non-tackling rule unless standing up face to face.
And I'm with you, Dave, as I always thought that the rule was changed quite some time ago so that any contact with your opponent when tackling from behind was a free-kick.
Perhaps, on a lighter note, this is how we punish the ESL 6, make them play the same rules as everyone else and no more 6 years between penalties given against them.
Having said that, I've been critical of the standard of English refereeing for quite some years now and the lack of surprise and shame from the FA etc when none were chosen for one World Cup Final series.
I'd like to see referees, while linked to the VAR bunker, giving interviews and managers being encouraged to voice their concerns after each game, separately of course. I'd probably find it more entertaining than listening to "after the fact" TV studio experts, not to mention getting everyone discussing or reading from the same sheet, rule book.
53 Posted 11/05/2021 at 11:30:15
You are correct in stating that tackling from behind was outlawed some time ago. In my opinion, a good clean tackle was a work of art. It appears that, in today's game, a tackle of any description is considered to be a foul; it's no longer a contact sport.
What aggravates me most is the fact that a player can be bumped off the ball, and he either clutches his face or his ankle, screaming in agony. It's not the game we grew up playing or watching.
54 Posted 11/05/2021 at 12:12:21
The problem is the standard of official and the rules.
We need better officials who understand the rules and the game. But, as you say Alan, you do sometimes have to sympathise with them given the confusion and sometimes complexity around some of the rules.
55 Posted 11/05/2021 at 13:19:45
Yes, the referees deserve a great deal of sympathy for having to deal with the cheating, diving players with their 'win at all costs' philosophy, along with the managers and coaches who let them do it and never see it but always see the opposition's fouls... hypocrites the lot of them.
56 Posted 11/05/2021 at 13:34:25
57 Posted 11/05/2021 at 13:34:56
I was thinking that way as well, because it has been the case in the past that the centre-back has not challenged when they should have. In my post, I initially disagreed with Michael's post, even thinking it was on the other side.
When I checked Seamus could have covered the run for the header, but was in a nowhere position marking no-one, it could not even be described as zonal and seemed he was totally blindsided by the run for the free header.
58 Posted 11/05/2021 at 14:25:38
If you expect your wingback to be back into the fullback position every time there is a cross to the back post, then don't expect him to play more than one hour – unless you don't want him to attack, that is.
59 Posted 11/05/2021 at 14:43:11
3-5-2 and playing with wing backs is the most attacking formation in my opinion. But you can not expect your wing backs to default to full back / defender if the ball breaks down and you lose possession.
In my experience, and again at my level, to make 3-5-2 work there are a few key ingredients.
1. Footballing centre backs who can carry the ball forward.
2. A genuine sweeper / defensive midfielder who can rapidly cover for the "missing" full back and protect a flank if under attack.
3. In the absence of point 2, communication so that one of the wing backs holds back if the attack is on the other side.
Ultimately, you go 3 at the back, you are exposing your flanks for the sake of attacking and, whilst you need to compensate, you can't always point fingers at the wing backs. Those who have played that position will know that no one is super human regardless of level of football or standard.
60 Posted 11/05/2021 at 15:51:01
I expected West Ham to attack us down the flanks at every opportunity after this, but thankfully they never, and once Holgate replaced Mina, it wouldn't have mattered imo, because we even looked better once this happened, and Holgate definitely deserves a lot of credit for this.
The best thing about Sunday was that we were much tighter in central areas, and this is what we've been lacking in a lot of games, especially at Goodison Park.
61 Posted 11/05/2021 at 17:19:26
Like with any formation, it really depends on if you have the right balance of players to execute it. Don't make the players fit the formation, play the best formation for the players you have available. I know I'm boringly repeating myself there!! The danger or 3 at the back is exposing your flanks.
I say 3-5-2 is the best attacking formation, but only if you have the right players. My actual preference is 4-2-3-1 in terms of balance, but again, only if you have the right players.
I'm with you, I like width regardless of formation. It goes back to coaching. Win the ball, make the pitch big and make space. Lose the ball, go compact and close the space. I think more so in the modern game that's why formations have to be fluid more than in previous times.
62 Posted 11/05/2021 at 17:42:05
Everton get men behind the ball, and play tight away from Goodison, and have really reaped the rewards, but its been a lot different at home, except when weve played exactly that same way.
I think we got six points out of Chelsea and Arsenal by playing this way, but since then, six defeats, three draws and only one victory tell its own story, when its maybe obvious (to me!) we use a different system that doesnt seem to suit the squad?
63 Posted 11/05/2021 at 18:00:43
For me, I hope that changes next season, but for now, yes, just play to the strengths of this squad because right now, that's what we've got.
64 Posted 11/05/2021 at 18:09:40
We are hard to beat away from Goodison, but I'd love us to be hard to beat every week, especially if we could sign a few clever players, who know how to go and punish teams on the counter attack, which is the best, quickest and possibly only way that we will get closer to the very best teams imho!
65 Posted 11/05/2021 at 18:12:20
67 Posted 11/05/2021 at 19:02:36
I agree, it was my first reaction as well. Keane tucks in all the time and Godfrey was doing the same to some extent. All those late goals that have cost Everton so dearly are on that side. The right back winging forward caught in possession and the opposition runner unchallenged in on goal.
How Seamus got drawn central only he will know, but he should have been in a more right back position. I agree, Holgate is better, but falls down in distribution. Seamus's distribution and runs forward are better, but he is older, so runs out of puff in the end.
68 Posted 12/05/2021 at 05:22:51
I like King, and want to see him on the pitch a bit more but he has barely played and looked well off the pace in the 10 mins or so he had on the pitch.
At Arsenal he made the difference. Lucky goal but, as a poster at the time said, pressure causes leaks (or breaks pipes, can't remember exact quote and I am not going back to find it!)
The lad needs a goal for himself. He loves scoring. And I love that he was pissed about coming off. 84 minutes of running his arse off and he still wanted on. Often players are accused of not caring or not trying hard enough, that cannot be said of him.
69 Posted 12/05/2021 at 08:17:02
70 Posted 12/05/2021 at 09:16:17
A couple more people have said they were made up he was pissed off when he was subbed because they love that desire to stay on. Maybe it was the desire to stay on... to me, it was because his massive ego had been hurt. He'd made a couple of poor decisions and lost the ball too easily in the few minutes before he was taken off.
But only Richarlison will know the truth of why he goes into these very childish sulks, he wants a good smacked arse off his mam!!
71 Posted 12/05/2021 at 11:49:07
See if the interview is on a website somewhere... unbelievable!
Now I know the players are living on a different planet than the rest of us. God help them when the fans are back – they will be in for a little bit of a shock.
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