Written by: Corey Kemp
West Ham went to Goodison Park looking to bounce back from their disappointing loss against Crystal Palace. However, on evidence of that performance, the players looked out of their depth against an energetic and lethal Everton.
The game started inevitably slow and West Ham strung together some tidy football. A few minutes in, Everton turned the screw and they bombarded the West Ham back-line, who looked to play out from the back and keep possession. Everton made this really difficult for them to get out of their own half and pushed Lucas Digne and Djibril Sidibe high against Ryan Fredericks and Arthur Masuaku.
An important player for the Toffees was Bernard, who fans will remember West Ham was linked with a few seasons ago. He has the pace and trickery to pull defences out of their shape and face them up.
After a period of prolonged pressure, the ball was swept into Bernard, who looked to have lost the chance. However, he was allowed to get in past Declan Rice and Angelo Ogbonna, before slotting past Roberto at his near post.
From a West Ham point of view, this is the worst goal they’ve conceded all season. Bernard is a talented playmaker but the defence had opportunities to put bodies in front of him and lead him away from goal.
As for Roberto, this has to go down as a mistake. It is difficult to argue that Lukasz Fabianski would’ve made a similar mistake based on positioning and therefore the blame lies at his door.
Everton drew confidence from their goal and maintained their high pressure. Having seen Everton succumb easily to defensive errors this season, they weren’t tested at all in this department. This was down to their style of play, which equally prevented West Ham from using their full-backs.
Tactically, it was too easy and Manuel Pellegrini didn’t change this style to overcome their press. West Ham could’ve played five in midfield but ultimately, there was no plan to beat the press.
Although Sebastian Haller is a magnificent hold-up striker, and a strong finisher, Manuel Pellegrini isn’t using him correctly. At times, he cut an isolated figure and the likes of Manuel Lanzini and Felipe Anderson were caught in two minds, whether to protect their defence or get forward and support him. This could be easily addressed but West Ham’s failure to sign a ‘Plan-B’ striker will hinder their ability to win this type of game.
Manuel Pellegrini decided to take Felipe Anderson off for Andriy Yarmolenko, which seemed an odd decision. Yarmolenko and Anderson have played consistently well together, therefore Pellegrini’s decision to keep Pablo Fornals on, who was incredibly poor in the first half, is bizarre. One suspects he doesn’t believe there is enough energy in the midfield with Declan Rice and Mark Noble. Again, this should have been addressed in the summer window. There might even be an argument that Pablo Fornals was the wrong signing to make.
The second half saw West Ham trying to press the issue but the link-up wasn’t there as the attacking trio of Andriy Yarmolenko, Manuel Lanzini and Pablo Fornals played too far apart. Manuel Lanzini was drawn into the wing-position too many times in the first half and, whilst he is a fantastic playmaker, he doesn’t offer the same width as Andriy Yarmolenko or Felipe Anderson, neither who weren’t helped by a lack of full-back support.
Pellegrini bought Albian Ajeti on for the first time this season to play with two strikers and West Ham did retain the ball further up the pitch.
It wasn’t enough, however, as Declan Rice and Angelo Ogbonna failed to capitalise on their half-chances and Everton attacked the opposite end. They found Gylfi Sigurdsson, who is lethal from long-range, and he scored a brilliant goal in fairness to the Icelandic playmaker.
Crucially, Everton were able to bring on Moise Kean and Sigurdsson to kill the game. West Ham do not have that level of substitute to change a game.
It is a real tough result for West Ham fans to take as the club have only registered one win in the last six games.
It appears that the lack of well-rounded recruitment, in addition to the poor tactics, that have let the team continue this slide.
In a season where the playing staff is at the highest level it has been at in recent memory, the organisation and gameplay is allowing them to come unstuck to an Everton side that, with all due respect, haven’t looked like world-beaters this season.
West Ham welcome Sheffield United next week in what will be fondly dubbed the ‘Carlos Tevez’ derby. Manuel Pellegrini and his players will need to come to the London Stadium with not necessarily more desire but certainly more intelligent and thought-through build-up play and chance creation.
Full time 2-0 Everton