Bernard wonder goal sets the tone
Bernard seemed intent on single-handedly breaking Everton out of their recent goal scoring woes. Thanks to some world class dribbling, the diminutive Brazilian gave his side an early lead that they would not relinquish.
These are the kinds of goals that have been hard to come by for Everton as of late. And sometimes you need an excellent individual effort that can break a team out of a funk. While the finish may have been a solo effort, the build up to the goal was pure team football. Starting from the back and culminating in a beautiful pass from Theo Walcott to Bernard, this attacking push was some of the best football Everton have played in weeks.
Line up changes make a difference
Whether Marco Silva’s most recent lineup changes make a difference in the coming weeks remains to be seen. But in this match against West Ham, the changes were effective. The big changes saw Alex Iwobi start as the central attacking midfielder, Richarlison move to striker and Bernard and Theo Walcott on the left and right respectively.
Iwobi put in a pretty solid shift in central midfield, while it’s clear he lacks the finesse of Gylfi Sigurdsson, his strength and directness was a nice change of pace. Even though he wasn’t directly involved in any goals he set up his teammates for a few big chances throughout the match.
Finally, the trio of Richarlison, Bernard and Walcott had themselves a good performance. Richarlison has not always been very effective when playing up top, but both he and Bernard were able to find acres of space on the left wing and dribble the ball into the box. This switched things up from the usual cross-heavy strategy that seems to be less and less effective as time goes on. This overloading of the left side often left Theo Walcott with plenty of space to operate in and he made his presence felt on more than a few occasions.
Still struggling to finish chances
At this point it’s unclear what needs to happen to help Everton take better advantage of their scoring chances. It’s obviously unrealistic to expect this team to covert every chance they have, but they do need to do better than they have been. With ten shots on target it’s reasonable to expect more than two of those to go in.
Everton were fortunately able to take the lead early on, but they held a lead of just one goal for a majority of the match. That inability to put the game away earlier on can and has cost them dearly in the past. It remains to be seen what players Marco Silva needs to play in order to improve this, but it is an area that needs to be addressed.