What we have learnt from West Ham v Everton

Author: . Published: at 8:21pm

My five takeaways from the game this week by Steve Claydon @trbeat.

1.  Defence comes good.

I wrote last week that having a good back line and a keeper is important for the foundations of keeping a clean sheet.  With Winston Reid coming back from injury the switch to three centre-backs was made, and it worked well. All of them, Reid, Collins and Fonte were strong, co-ordinated and thankfully kept Lukakua at bay the whole game.  It was one of the first times I have seen the Everton forward kept at bay, and the stats back this up.  Lukakua has scored in the last nine games against us.  I repeat all three were immense, with both Collins and Reid keeping the back strong which allowed Fonte to move the ball out from the back, something which he did quite well. I was very impressed with how that formation worked.  Adrian must have loved it as he really had nothing to do, except have a small barney with Fernandez who put him under undue pressure with a poor backless throw-in. Other than that the back three and Adrian had nothing to do the whole game.  Credit to all of them.

2.  Viking Ships finally sailing

Håvard Nordtveit.  Well look who played out of his skin, or maybe that’s was we can expect from him when played in the right position (that’s a theme we’ve all heard).  This man was immense. He protected the back line very well and his constant harrying of the Everton midfield and forwards forced them into critical errors breaking down promising attacks. He played the Noble role very well, and dare I say it performed it, in this game at least, better than Noble.  I like the way he started attacks; I like the way he played his position by not putting himself in dangerous situations or extending himself unnecessarily. It was a very solid game from a player that has been panned a little by some and a lot by others.  Kouyate, who picked up a knock five minutes into the game seemed to be off, including a less that stellar defensive performance and poor final third passes.  Had Kouyate played to his normal level, both of them would have run the game very well, not that we didn’t anyway, but we may have even nicked a win.

3. Do we have a position battle?

I loved the play from Masuaku.  He looked strong at the back and going forward added a dimension that has been missing from Cresswell this year.  He was never afraid to take someone on and try and make things happen, which he did, many times. He worked really well as the wing back and hopefully he can translate this strong play as well when playing in a standard back four.  The link up play with Lanzini was nice, and I would be intrigued to see him play a wide role in midfield and have less defensive responsibilities but either way, this man was awesome. His force down the left side kept Everton honest and made them think twice about using that side of the field to attack.  While we are about it, Fernandez on the right side, was a lot quieter but did his bit. I was a little disappointed with his attack play as there were a couple of times that he got into good positions but fluffed his lines when it counted most. So if you have a fit Cresswell and Masuaku, who are are you choosing to start against Stoke?

4. It’s very sad to see Carroll suffer.

I’d like to say that Carroll not starting was a shock and how can he be injured, again.  While watching the game, the commentators mentioned that he aggravated his groin injury, again, when stretching to knock the ball back for Ayew’s first goal last week. I hurt for a few days when I stretch to wash my car, but that’s not my main job, and so it’s sad.  It’s sad someone so young, with so much potential will never have a true football, long, and exciting career. So what does that mean for West Ham?  It means come the summer, and actually, we need to start now, and I am sure we have, we need to figure out our striking options.  As many people pointed out on social media today, when Calleri is starting for you, no matter how good or bad you think he is, it’s a sorry state of affairs for a team that needs to push on into the upper echelons of the Premier League. I busted on Calleri last week, but he did run his heart out today.  The problem is, it was a lot of huffing and puffing and it never really looked like we would score with him up top.  Sakho did not look hugely better either, but I still prefer him leading the line.  So let’s review those three names; Carroll – often injured; Sakho – often injured, poor attitude; Calleri – lacks Premiership skills. So our striking line is in a poor way.  We have the ability to fix it in the summer, but we need to be sensible about our targets, and we need our current strike-force to understand that their role will shrink next year along with, hopefully, their related salaries.

5.  Lets Credit Bilic, for this game at least.

I’m not going to start or continue the Bilic in, Bilic Out game.  Other people have better and more eloquent thoughts on this than I do. Just Listen to the radio show last week to get where I am coming from. The three at the back worked very well for this game, and as I wrote earlier that Lukaku was kept quiet the whole game, and the stats don’t lie.  Everton had a total of four shots with none on target. That says something. It would be easy to say that Everton was not on their game. I say that our game plan worked very well and negated theirs against us.  Whether by actual design, injuries or suspension, Bilic got this one right.  At times it was not pretty, but the confidence is starting to return, and for the Everton fans that said we parked the bus, you are wide of the mark, a long way wide. A point is valuable at this time of the year, and while we are not completely safe, (mathematically) if we can put together a few more games like this we should be safe in the next week or two.  So I’ll give Bilic a lot of credit for shutting down an Everton team that loves to score and beat us.

See you next week.

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