There were some surprises when the starting lineups were announced for Everton today, as goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg was confirmed injured and didn’t make the squad, while captain Phil Jagielka dropped to the bench after a series of underwhelming performances.
West Ham had the better of the first half, though the hosts did have some clear-cut chances to take the lead on the break. Joel was called into action a couple of times as the Irons’ dynamic attack of Manuel Lanzini, Michail Antonio and Dimitri Payet almost opened up the Blues a few times but failed to find the goal.
The Blues looked much better in the second half, and it will be a relief to the Toffees that Ross Barkley looked pretty decent today. Seamus Coleman cut in as he often does, with Adrian parrying away his shot. Yannick Bolasie showed great application to return the ball into the 6-yard box and Romelu Lukaku was wide open for the easiest header of his life to put Everton ahead. With his 9th goal in 9 consecutive games against West Ham, Lukaku now holds the Everton record against a single opponent.
As the Hammers pushed forward looking for the equalizer, Joel kept the Blues ahead with a flying save to keep out Mark Noble. The Everton defence was stretched, but held firm. And then Barkley initiated a break, sending Lukaku free down the right. The Belgian striker then crossed the ball into the box to find Barkley steaming in, and his careful finish slid into the near post to put Everton 2-0 up.
The remaining fifteen minutes were mostly uneventful as the hosts shored up at the back and relied on counters. Controversial referee Anthony Taylor once again courted drama in an Everton - West Ham game, ignoring Blues appeals for a penalty as Idrissa Gueye was shoved off the ball in the box.
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