Things started so brightly for Everton this afternoon at Goodison Park, but they ended in despair. West Ham scored three unanswered goals against the 10-men Toffees to take three points by a final score of 3-2.
The two goals for Everton came from Romelu Lukaku (13') and Aaron Lennon (56'). For Lukaku, it marks the eighth consecutive time he has netted against West Ham. According to Everton itself, that marks the first time a Toffee has achieved this against one club since 1933. Without question, the striker is world class at this point.
Lukaku and Lennon were part of all that was right with the hosts today. From the jump, the Belgian had a tenacity about him and the English winger was up to his familiar tricks, performing equally as well on attack as he did in defense.
But really, for the first 75 minutes, the entire Everton lineup, apart from Kevin Mirallas, was playing extremely well. Mirallas got himself sent off in the 34th minute after earning a second yellow. The first card came from embellishing a tackle. Sure, he did it, but it deserved more of a talking to than a booking. The second card was an obvious one as he slid into the West Ham player and deserved to go into the referee's notebook.
That said, Everton did not play as if they had just 10 men for most of the game. Bryan Oviedo and Seamus Coleman were able to provide support up front while also forcing West Ham's attack to put crosses into a box full of blue shirts. Many times, those West Ham crosses would fail to beat the first defender. It seemed like Lennon and James McCarthy were everywhere. It may have been the best performance from the club in some time, but it crumbled in the 78th minute.
After trying time and time again, West Ham finally figured out how to find the heads of their teammates in the box, leading to goals from Michail Antonio (78'), Diafra Sakho (81') and Dimitri Payet (90'). Once again, Everton may have been the best team on the pitch, but they left with nothing to show for it.
What is most disturbing is the team's play at home. They have now completed 15 games at Goodison Park. In those matches they have won four, drawn four and lost seven. What in the world? The home ground should be your sanctuary where other clubs are afraid. That does not exist for the Toffees. Those four wins are against Sunderland, Newcastle, Aston Villa, and early-season Chelsea. Those maybe the four worst clubs in the Premier League when you consider form at the time.
Lukaku himself may end up taking a good chunk of the blame for the loss as well. He had a chance to put the game away by scoring a penalty kick (earned by Mo Besic) but it was poorly taken and easily saved by Adrian. Minutes later, he had a breakaway, only need to beat the keeper, but again he was stuffed. Both chances should have been goals, but they weren' so here we are.
It's tough to completely fault them as they did play a man down for 60 minutes, but there is always talk about how this may be the most talented Everton team in history. But they cannot win at home, And they cannot beat tough competition. They have one of the most dangerous strikers in Europe, but the late-game defending is atrocious. It has caused Royal Blue Mersey's own Calvin to strike up the hashtag #Evertoning because there is no other word to describe it. Only Everton would take you on such a roller coaster ride over the course of 90 minutes.
There is still such promise from this side. Roberto Martinez does a marvelous job of getting leads, but he stinks at holding onto them. That has to change in the final quarter of the season as Everton seems to be primed to spend money and will want to attract high-quality talent and make a run at Europe. Come on, Bobby! Show ownership you are the man to lead them forward.