Everton’s outstanding form on the road continued with a fine 1-0 win away to West Ham.
Deflated after last week’s loss to Aston Villa, The Toffees arrived in East London with little to no belief, especially considering the quality and confidence of their opposition. That, in addition to the absence of James Rodríguez, suggested a difficult afternoon in the capital was about to commence.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men had different ideas. Their first half was superb- the three centre backs of Ben Godfrey, Michael Keane and Yerry Mina dealt with everything West Ham’s attackers had to offer, the midfield was wonderfully tenacious and the front two of Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin pressed like their lives depended upon it.
Inside twenty-four minutes, they were rewarded. Following a magnificent threaded pass from Godfrey, Calvert-Lewin was set away and did what was required, pushing the visitors into a big (and deserved) lead. After some disappointing finishes in recent matches, most notably against Crystal Palace at Goodison Park around a month ago, it was fantastic to see the England international show such ruthlessness and composure in front of goal.
West Ham responded quite well to the visitors’ opener, with a fabulous chance falling for Saïd Benrahma, who nodded over Jordan Pickford’s crossbar after a wonderful cross from the right. But, as has so often been the case on the road this season, Everton were extremely well-organised and suppressed much of The Hammers’ movement and creativity.
A big second half was needed from the hosts if this game was to slip from The Toffees’ grasp.
Half Time: West Ham United 0-1 Everton
The second half went exactly how Everton wanted. They were careless in possession, yes, but adopted a shape that was impenetrable and played a game that was responsible and controlled.
The biggest chance of the period fell for the hosts, with Vladimír Coufal, one of the Premier League’s finest fullbacks this season, firing a shot against the post, with the ball nearly falling to Jarred Bowen on the rebound. It was the first time Everton’s structure had been pulled apart and offered a warning to The Toffees that the game was far from done.
Thankfully, Everton responded to this warning brilliantly. Not only did they tighten up, they began to show more intent on the break, with substitute Josh King glancing the post with a good header as the game reached its conclusion.
Following this win, The Toffees are now three points away from West Ham in 5th with a game in hand this Thursday. After the trials and tribulations of this campaign, it is astonishing that Everton are still in the conversation for European football and gives me hope that, with time and further transfers, this club will get there consistently under this manager’s tutelage.
Can we play away every week?
Full Time: West Ham United 0-1 Everton
James’ Everton Man of the Match: Allan