West Ham United have now recorded back-to-back wins at Goodison Park. Everton went more than 8 years without losing a match against the Hammers, from December 2007 through to March 2016, but over the last 9 fixtures, the Blues have registered only 4 wins, against 4 losses and 1 draw. West Ham have undergone a resurgence under former Everton boss David Moyes, but the results show that the 2 teams are very well matched and this is likely to be the case all season.
No Answer to Rice
Declan Rice dominated the Everton midfield yesterday. He drifted around in front of the West Ham defence, picking up the ball and dictating play. Allan and Doucoure, sitting quite deep themselves couldn’t get near him and whoever played off Salomon Rondon (Demarai Gray or Alex Iwobi) was not able to disrupt him on a consistent basis. He was a complete midfielder out there and a below-par Blues engine room had no answers.
Declan Rice's game by numbers vs. Everton:— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 17, 2021
100% aerial duels won
91% pass accuracy
10 ball recoveries
7 passes into final ⅓
7 take-ons attempted
5 duels won
3 take-ons completed
2 chances created
2 aerial duels
Is there anything this man can't do? pic.twitter.com/VMc3OTPRlj
The Shaky Blue Wall
One of the things Everton did well last season under Carlo Ancelotti was to get dead-ball situations right. The Blues conceded only 7 set-piece goals all season, but have already shipped 4 in 8 league matches under Rafa Benitez. The players are the same, so it’s the scheme that is the problem and Rafa needs to correct this going forward. In fact, the Toffees are doing rather badly in offensive set-piece situations also. This sort of thing has hurt Everton under previous regimes, but we were not expecting this from the Spanish tactician.
Without wanting to take a shot at an easy target, it has to be said that Alex Iwobi was terrible against West Ham. His first pass, straight to Declan Rice, brought groans from the Goodison faithful and it didn’t get much better, with a complete air-kick speaking volumes as to the Nigerian’s effectiveness in front of goal. Rafa switched Iwobi from his starting berth on the left to a central position and he did get more involved, which is the only thing that can explain how he managed to stay on for 79 minutes. The winger was a surprising selection ahead of youngster Anthony Gordon, who impressed against Manchester United before the international break, but to say he didn’t repay his manager’s confidence is an understatement.
Seen a few people saying this isn't true/can't be true.— Matchday365 (@Matchday365) October 17, 2021
Per SofaScore: pic.twitter.com/snlsSMSryE
A Target-poor Environment
In what was a subdued team performance, the only attacking player to emerge with much credit was Andros Townsend. Everton didn’t have much of the ball, but he did his (primary) job, which is to deliver quality crosses, completing 5 of them during the match from open-play, the most of any player this weekend. Unfortunately, the primary target was Salomon Rondon, who is struggling to get onto the end of things and even when he does is not finishing clinically.