West Ham United 0 Everton FC 0
Match Report by @WestHamAmerican
West Ham drew even with Everton on Saturday in a scrappy defensive stalemate on a glorious sunny afternoon at the London Stadium. Slaven Bilic, sitting precariously in the bottom half of the table, limped into his home ground without Andy Carroll, Michel Antonio, Mark Noble, or Sam Byram. With injuries sidelining the first two, and FA suspensions for the latter two, the hosting crowd had guarded expectations against an Everton side that is having one of their finest seasons in years.
With missing regulars in the starting XI, Bilic made a number of changes: Adrian found his way back into the goal for the first time since FA Cup play ended. He replaced a struggling Darren Randolph. Also the gaffer inserted Jonathon Calleri, Havard Nordtviet, and Winston Reid.
Everton also made a change in the net as Maarten Stekelenburg replaced Jose Robles in goal. Ronald Koeman’s side has been riding high as of late, as Romelu Lukaku is leading the league in scoring and the Toffees are still chasing a Europa League spot.
Early on, Adrian almost caused disaster in the opening minutes as he failed to clear the ball, under pressure from Kevin Mirallas. Fortunately he was able to gather possession and otherwise had a well-played match.
Shots on goal were rare for both clubs throughout the match. Both Nordveit and Cheikhou Kouyate had long range attempts after the first 28 minutes of play. Both were either saved by Stekelenburg or went wide. For Everton, they didn’t have a single shot on goal the entire first half of play.
Bilic’s 5-3-2 seemed to keep Lukaku in check, as his streak of nine straight goals against West Ham came to an end today.
The second half, saw Ronald Koeman boldly make two halftime substitutions to try and spur his high-powered attack. Tom Davies and Idrissa Gueye were replaced by Ademola Lookman and Gareth Barry for the second half. But the result was the same. Lookman did have Everton’s first shots as he took consecutive attempts in the 70th and 72nd which were either over or wide.
Given the Hammer’s recent futility in defending, the final whistle from Roger East was a welcome sound as the one point result keeps West Ham seven away from the drop zone. For the Toffees they climb to sixth ahead of a struggling Arsenal team.
Of note: the defending was tenacious. With James Collins reminding his home stadium why he is such a fan favourite. Manual Lanzini had brilliant moments but without Dimitri Payet or even Antonio, he needs some assistance on the attack. Diafra Sakho returned in the second half. Whether he can finish the season uninjured and without his coach running him off the team before the summer transfer window will be interesting. A fit Sakho is a great attacking option but with only a few dates remaining on the schedule, will he have time to find his form?
Despite two back-to-back draws, West Ham still is only seven points away from disaster. While the bottom two is practically settled, the third relegation spot is a dangerous moving target. A Saturday visit to Britannia Stadium will be a monumental fixture, as Stoke sits only a point ahead of West Ham. At least supporters leaving the London Stadium today can take heart that, at long last, the Hammers finally seemed to remember the West Ham Way of defending.
West Ham: Adrian, Collins, Fonte, Reid, Masuaku, Fernandes, Nordtveit, Kouyate, Lanzini, Ayew, Calleri.
Subs: Randolph, Cresswell, Rice, Mikasi, Holland, Sakho, Fletcher
Everton: Stekelenburg, Holgate, Jagielka, Williams, Baines, Gueye, Schneiderlin, Davies, Barkley, Mirallas, Lukaku.
Subs: Robles, Kone, Barry, Calvert-Lewin, Lookman, Pennington, Kenny
Referee: Roger East