Everton fans got the lineup they wanted in the middle especially today, with Idrissa Gueye, Amadou Onana and Alex Iwobi. The back four was unchanged with Conor Coady taking the captain’s armband next to James Tarkowski, Nathan Patterson and Vitaliy Mykolenko on the flanks. In goal Asmir Begovic replaced the injured Jordan Pickford.
Upfront we had Neal Maupay starting with Demarai Gray and Anthony Gordon on either side of him. Dominic Calvert-Lewin didn’t make the squad despite training all week, though Abdoulaye Doucoure made a welcome return to the bench at the expense of Allan who might still leave the club with clubs from United Arab Emirates interested.
Once the activities to commemorate the passing of the Queen were completed, the game got underway and the Blues started with the verve and gusto we’re getting familiar with at home.
Everton did well to pass the ball around and look to probe the visitor’s defence, but Moyes’ side were well-drilled for their part and kept the Blues at arms-length. The three-man midfield for the Blues showed rigidity and ability on the ball, but you just get the feeling the Toffees still need that spark of creativity from somewhere.
West Ham have too much quality to sit back all game long and eventually worked their way forward, winning a succession of corners but the Blues did well to quell the danger from the setpieces.
The Toffees passing more often than not let them down, especially in the West Ham half as they tried to move the ball side-to-side. However, both sides did a much better job of winning the ball back than they did of keeping it to begin with. Halftime came with the score still 0-0 and the Blues yet to really test Fabianski in the West Ham goal with no shots on target.
The second half started with both sides creating good chances, but it was the Toffees who took the lead through new striker Neal Maupay who scored his first goal for the club in his second start. Iwobi fed him well on the edge of the box, and the former Brighton forward swiveled neatly and tucked a dipping shot past Lukasz Fabianski to put the Blues ahead.
The game immediately opened up as West Ham looked to find a quick equalizer. Antonio almost got a good header on goal, and then substitute Benrahma came even closer, hitting the inside of the far post with Begovic well beaten.
Everton looked to have done enough to hold on for the victory despite Cornet’s best efforts and the Toffees giving the ball away needlessly with some poor passes. The final whistle was met with a roar as the Blues finally got their first win of the season and climb up the table.
Everton are finally defending as a team, and it looks good. The players seem to be working better together, getting familiar with each other, covering gaps together, moving as a unit. The leadership from a couple of the new players is making all the difference.
The attack still needs work. When in possession, a disciplined opponent can just sit back in a low block and let Everton frustrate themselves, much like the incoming tide against a sea wall.
What an immediate impact Gana has made on this midfield. He was a calming presence all afternoon long, cleaning up behind his fellow midfielders and shielding the backline who did well for themselves too.
Everton 1 West Ham 0— Royal Blue Mersey (@RBMersey) September 18, 2022