Everton punished a sloppy West Ham United side with two first-half goals on Saturday as the Blues moved above the London side in the Premier League table.
Everton looked at their best under Marco Silva as a complete team performance settled the game before half time as they exploited a poor Hammers defence who failed to get to grips with an impressive Toffees display. It did not take long for the deadlock to be broken as Kurt Zouma towered highest from a corner, heading Gylfi Sigurdsson’s cross into the top corner.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side never looked settled as Marko Arnautović and Lucas Pérez as a front two failed to test a solid Everton back four. It was not Everton’s defensive display that caused West Ham problems, but their own defensive frailties as they conceded seven shots at goal in the first 45 minutes. Łukasz Fabiański was forced to make strong saves from Sigurdsson, Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
Silva’s side were unlucky not to win the game by a more convincing margin but their second and final goal came from Bernard who was able to tap in a Seamus Coleman cross after Everton found a way round the back of West Ham’s defence once more.
The second half provided few highlights bar glimmers of creativeness by Everton; their best chance coming from another corner as Richarlison rattled the crossbar as he found himself in acres of space in the box. Everton’s dominant display moved them past West Ham and with six games remaining they will be hoping that they claimimed seventh place and potentially qualify for the Europa League.
West Ham’s sloppy defense
West Ham looked sloppy from the get-go and their defense and attack looked disconnected at times as Everton were able to outnumber the Hammers defence on numerous occasions.
Pellegrini’s side looked considerably poor from set-pieces as Everton scored and created chances with deep, looping crosses all afternoon. Perhaps the tactic of putting two up front was a mistake as their strikers failed to really pressure the Merseyside team and their four man midfield looked unable to deal with Andre Gomes and the pressure that Everton’s fullbacks provided.
The best Everton under Silva yet?
Everton’s performance against West Ham was by footballing definition nothing short of complete. A clean sheet which was their third in four games meant that they shut their opponents out and after scoring early, it was a relatively easy afternoon for the Merseyside outfit.
The midfield of Gomes and Idrissa Gueye won the battle in the middle of the park and defensive mistakes and sharp attacking display meant that they claimed all three points. Everton have been one of this season’s most inconsistent teams and with a chase for seventh place, consistency is key to success in the league. They have now won three of their last five and with Arsenal up next, they will be hoping their form will be able to carry them into a strong performance that could move them into seventh.
Everton’s superb midfield
Saturday’s game was perhaps won in the midfield. Idrissa Gueye was his usual strong self whilst Andre Gomes put in an exceptional display, constantly being of service to his teammates and spreading the ball wide.
The wide men were key to Everton success as they usually are too, Richarlison hit the bar with a header from the corner and created plenty of chances whilst Bernard was tenacious going forward and earned himself a goal. Gylfi Sigurdsson also created a goal from a corner and looked lively as he always does.
This is one of the first times this season it can be said that Everton’s midfield had no flaws, every player looked brilliant as they brushed aside a lacklustre West Ham side. If the Toffee’s are to remain playing at this level then fans will be happy and Silva’s inconsistent season may soon be forgotten about.
Woeful West Ham attack
As mentioned, West Ham’s attack failed to create much going forward. They mounted a mere three shots with only one on target giving Jordan Pickford a quiet afternoon – meanwhile Everton put 17 shots at goal.
Javier Hernandez’s introduction to the game did very little to change the play. They were nonexistent throughout the entire game and with games against Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea next month they will have to improve significantly if they want to continue their chance for seventh and not slip into mid table.
Whilst Lucas Perez was substituted at half time for Javier Hernandez, Marko Arnoutović looked particularly poor. The Austrian striker slammed his water bottle down in frustration after being brought off as he was jeered by West Ham fans. He has failed to score since requesting to be transferred to China and perhaps the relationship between him and the Hammers fans has reached boiling points as he has shown little reason to regain the fans faith.
Man of the Match – Andre Gomes
The Portuguese man has been one of Everton’s most reliable players this season and on Saturday he showed how good he is. He created most of Everton’s play and the ball had to go through him when Everton were going forward – 63 passes topped the list for the day and he showed his creative capabilities all afternoon in an all round performance.