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West Ham Tactical Review - Where did Everton go wrong?

Lethargic performances all round cost us

Everton v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Everton hosted West Ham United in a fixture which saw Everton still without their attacking duo Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison and they most certainly missed them this weekend. The Toffees looked out of ideas, lethargic and lacked any real urgency. We fell behind late in the second half to an Angelo Ogbonna header from a set piece which sees Everton drop down to eighth in the table.

It’ll come as no surprise when I tell you once again, we had very little of the ball, finishing the game with 39% possession. Normally this is due to us sitting back and being effective when we do have the ball but unfortunately, we surrendered possession way too easily.

Some of our key central players failed to keep hold of the ball, with Michael Keane, Allan and Ben Godfrey all having under 70% pass completion. All three of these players average over 70% throughout the season so far so it goes to show the drop in ball possession we had this weekend. I couldn’t believe the stats afterwards which said we had fifteen shots, but it came as no surprise to see seven of those came from Salomon Rondon and Alex Iwobi with some extremely tame efforts to say the least.

Everton v West Ham United - Premier League
Salomon Rondon attempts a dribble at Goodison Park
Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images

Normally I prefer to stay positive and pick out the good performers in a game, but I’ve watched the game twice now and I’m struggling to find any. Alex Iwobi came under a lot of criticism on Sunday with fans either questioning why he was starting in the first place and then how he lasted 78 minutes of the game.

I really thought this was his chance to repay the faith shown to him by Rafa Benitez and grab the game by the scruff of the neck and prove the fans wrong. He managed four shots with none of them being on target. He touched the ball less than any other player who started the match, had a 70.6% pass accuracy, no completed dribbles, no key passes, and no accurate crosses. Everton fans can accept players having bad games but when they can’t even do the basics right, it really is hard to stay positive. The missed chance after the great work from Demarai Gray on the right who crossed it in only for Iwobi to completely miss the ball, really summed up his performance.

Another player who has come under criticism is Salomon Rondon who once again failed to impress Everton fans. In the air he did reasonably well, winning six of his aerial duels with both centre halves for West Ham only managing the one between them. Unfortunately, this was all he really managed to do all game. He finished the game with five unsuccessful touches which of course wasn’t beaten by any other player. He managed three shots but none of them really testing the goalkeeper at all. There has always been question marks over his fitness but at what point do we accept he clearly isn’t good enough either? He’s had two weeks with no games whereas a professional athlete with some of the best facilities in the world you’d expect him to have been up to scratch by now. He’s completed 90 minutes on three occasions now and 60+ minutes twice. With the international break inbetween and not representing his country, I don’t see anymore excuses. He said all the right things to impress Everton fans when he joined but are we really seeing the fight, grit and determination promised by the Venezuelan?

With the attacking threat of Lucas Digne and the fact West Ham were without their first choice right back, Vladamir Coufal, I really expected us to target our left-hand side. Only 30% of our attacks came down this side which is often our most dominant side especially when Demarai Gray is playing there. 43% of attacks came down the right, where in fairness, we did get a bit of joy with Seamus Coleman getting forward at every opportunity. Aaron Cresswell is certainly a better defender than Ben Johnson so it seemed strange to me that we targeted this side more often than not.

Everton v West Ham average positions.
WhoScored.com

Just looking at the average positions above you can really see the lack of threat we possessed on the left-hand side. Iwobi naturally drifted inside which is fine if we have Digne getting forward, but it simply didn’t happen enough. Rafa made the right decision to move Gray out left to target this area in the second half but it’s no good making the switch and then not targeting this area. There was one move where Gray and Digne made a simple one-two and got a cross into the box, but we just didn’t see enough of it throughout the game.

A major concern for me is how vulnerable we look from set pieces without Yerry Mina. West Ham scored the most goals from set pieces last season and are one of the most dominant aerially again this year. There are question marks over whether Mina is going to sign a new deal and with him being one of our highest earners, Everton may be tempted to move him on in the summer but without further investment in the defensive area we’re going to be losing a lot of quality from who is undoubtedly our best centre half.

Now, for a little bit of positivity. We’re only one point away from being in the Champions League places. Richarlison, I hope, will be back next week to face his former club Watford. I expected them to have a little bit of a new manager “bounce” as they say but they looked as disorganised as ever against Liverpool at the weekend. This is a real chance for us to get back on track and with Brighton facing Manchester City, West Ham playing Tottenham and Liverpool up against Manchester United, teams around us are going to drop points and we can easily get ourselves back in and amongst the European places.