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Everton at West Ham: Tactical Analysis

The Toffees had the better of play by a small margin on Saturday, but lacked the final third efficiency to take create and take advantage of potential chances.

Clive Rose/Getty Images

A draw at Upton Park against the fifth-placed Hammers is a solid result, particularly given Everton's cushy fixtures over the next two months. Roberto Martinez and the Toffees even ought to feel decent about the performance they put forward in a difficult environment against a solid side.

Of course, that makes the team's inability to take all three points all the more frustrating.

To understand what happened on Saturday, let's start by looking at both sets of lineups.

Martinez made only one change to the lineup that beat Sunderland 6-2, with Brendan Galloway replacing the injured Bryan Oviedo at left-back.

Slaven Bilic's side also lined up in a 4-2-3-1, which was similar in many ways to that of Everton.

Both sides had full-backs unafraid to get forward in the attack, one holding midfielder playing in a more defensive role (Chiekhou Kouyate and Gareth Barry), another holding midfield with more license to get forward (Mark Noble and James McCarthy), and an attacking midfield three with most of its team's creative responsibilities.

Both sides also relied on their right wings to provide the majority of their width, as their left and central attacking midfielders provided a more central interplay.

For Everton, this is nothing new. Against Sunderland, much of the Toffees' attacks came through Gerard Deulofeu down the right wing, as Arouna Kone, Ross Barkley, and Romelu Lukaku overwhelmed the Black Cats' defense in the center of the pitch.

Things were not quite as easy against West Ham, a side with an obviously superior defense, but the ideas were largely the same.

The Toffees once again made a point of getting the ball to Deulofeu as early as possible, a method that has helped the side to score goals in multiple matches this season. His and passes received map, courtesy of FourFourTwo.com, clearly show this.

When the ball came down the right, Kone behaved as you would expect, by drifting in toward the center and even all the way across to the right at times, as the heatmap below, courtesy of EvertonFC.com, displays.

Deulofeu's presence down the right definitely stretched the West Ham United defense, but he failed to create much from that wide position in the final third, as his crossing map indicates.

This map is probably even a little flattering to Deulofeu, who turned the ball over multiple times in dangerous positions by trying to do too much on the ball. In fairness to Deulofeu though, West Ham was clearly aware that he was going to be the major danger man, and frequently had multiple players down the right to defend him.

Deulofeu did play the killer pass to Romelu Lukaku on the counter that led to Everton's only goal though, a play that reminds us of exactly how good the Spaniard can be. Everton's counter did not create too many chances throughout the match though, so the Toffees were required to make most of their chances in the second half via a slower buildup.

In attack, West Ham relied on two different factors to create chances. The Hammers had some success trying to create chances through the interplay between Manuel Lanzini and Dimitri Payet, who rotated between the left and central attacking midfield roles.

Lanzini and Payet both popped up all over the middle and left channels, making them difficult to track. Their heatmaps make this clear.

West Ham did attempt to build through the midfield at times throughout the match, but the temptation to play long through Andy Carroll was often too much for West Ham's midfielders and defenders to resist.

The Hammer probably tried to play long to Carroll more frequently than Bilic might have liked, particularly given that Everton dealt very well with the threat of the massive English striker.

Very few of West Ham's long balls found their target, as the long-ball map below indicates.

Even just in general, Carroll was isolated more often than not, as his passes received map indicates.

With Everton's chances on the counter attack somewhat limited and West Ham's Andy Carroll largely ineffective, both teams' best attacking plan was via the slow, possession-based buildup. Ultimately, neither team had enough to to find a winner under those circumstances.

In truth, West Ham never got particularly close to a break-through in the second half, in part due to the departure of Payet due to injury. Perhaps the clearest way to see this is by looking at the Hammers' passes in the final third.

There is very little incisive about what West Ham did in the final third all match. Despite having the ball in attacking areas for a fair amount of the match, the Hammers struggled to get the ball within 20-25 yards of goal in scoring areas. Even West Ham's goal came not as a factor of an incisive pass into the box, but from a rebound from a not overly dangerous shot.

Everton's final third passing was not much better.

As previously discussed, most of Everton's danger came from down the right, which is ideal given the lineup the Toffees used. But, with Deulofeu unable to get the ball into the box with any frequency, the ball got played into Ross Barkley in central areas, where he needs to be the player to make things happen.

But, Barkley struggled to make a significant impact on the match.

He simply could not find the incisive pass or shot throughout the match. As Deulofeu's reputation as a game changer continues to grow, he is going to draw more attention from defenders, as he did against West Ham. When that happens, Barkley simply must be the player who picks opposing defenses apart in the final third.

In all, Everton has continued to put itself in situations to win matches, but the club's big players must make big plays if the Toffees are to be successful. If Deulofeu continues to draw attention from opposing defenders, players like Ross Barkley must be able to unlock defenses. If he can do that, the Toffees will be in position to put together a run of victories with a weak portion of the schedule approaching.