What a crap game of football. Everton continued their struggles away from Goodison Park as they drew 0-0 with an out-of-form and defensively-challenged West Ham United side at the London Stadium on Saturday.
It was the type of match where you kept waiting for Everton to wake up and start playing. They have done this before. It can take them 15-20 minutes or even an entire half to grow into a game. But it never really happened today.
Romelu Lukaku was contained by a big, strong trio of centerbacks in Winston Reid, Jose Fonte and James Collins. He had no space to operate. Granted, his service was almost non-existent anyway, but you must give credit to Slaven Bilic and the West Ham players for that game plan. It worked perfectly.
And that also allowed for their wingbacks to march up and down the pitch and dictate much of the attack. BBC Sport’s final stats gave Everton a commanding 59/41 possession advantage, but it was West Ham who created the best chances of the day. You could even say that the Irons deserved to win, really.
The Hammers had 15 shots to the Toffees’ four. Goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg, starting for the first time in four months, was constantly going from post to post for crosses. Wheras Adrian, he United keeper, could have had a picnic in his net. He was never even challenged. Literally, the Blues could not muster a single shot on target.
Things were so poor for Everton that Ronald Koeman made two substitutions at the half, bringing on Gareth Barry and Ademola Lookman in place of Tom Davies and Idrissa Gueye. Lookman may have been the most likely to score for Everton. Once again, his balance and ability on the ball was impressive. But even he couldn’t create all that many chances.
Gueye’s removal from the game may be part of a bigger trend. He has been an early sub quite a few times recently, as he doesn’t seem to gel well with Morgan Schneiderlin or Davies from a footballing standpoint for whatever reason. It’s a shame, because Gueye has been phenomenal for large parts of the season and certainly has a place on the squad. Koeman will need to tinker with him a bit.
What else is there to say about a 0-0 game? It wad bad, overall. The group that stood out was Schniederlin, Ashley Williams and Phil Jagielka. There was quite a bit of pressure on the Everton defense. Schneiderlin snuffed out at least one attack with a perfect tackle. Jagielka had a few key headers. And Williams’ engine is always impressive.
As for the rest of the team, it was a disappointing performance. The draw does push Everton above Arsenal for sixth place in the league by one point. The Gunners do not play a league game this weekend, which means that they now have three games in hand on the Toffees.
Next up, Everton welcome Chelsea to Merseyside next Sunday. To have a real shot at fifth place, Everton need to win. Conversely, the top of the table is getting awfully crowded. Chelsea will want the points as well to stand ahead of Tottenham.