My first match sat in the Howard Kendall Gwladys Street End certainly did not disappoint. Goodison Park’s incredible atmosphere was rewarded with a pivotal triumph over former manager David Moyes’ West Ham United, and I was privileged enough to be a witness to it from the very heart of the Everton universe; the Street End. Although the win was far from comfortable and the performance could have been much better, there were certainly many positives to take from the game independent of the three points. Let’s dig into a few of them.
Just one season removed from a year in which they conceded 66 goals, their highest amount in the Premier League era and the most since also conceding 66 in 1975/76, Everton seemed to have solved their defensive woes. The center-back partnership of James Tarkowski and Conor Coady has flourished since the two summer signings have been put together in a back four, a system that apparently “didn’t suit” either player coming into this season. With these clean sheets against Liverpool and West Ham, Everton have now held Premier League opponents scoreless in consecutive games for the first time since Carlo Ancelotti was manager. That was a long time ago and feels like even longer. These two experienced leaders at the back have been an unbelievable improvement upon the defensive circus show we were forced to watch last season.
Everton have kept a clean sheet in back-to-back Premier League games for the first time since May 2021. #EFC— EFC Statto (@EFC_Statto) September 18, 2022
Iwobi’s Ongoing Excellence
It feels like I touch on this every week at this point, but the continued brilliance of one Alexander Chuka Iwobi has been one of the best stories of Everton’s 2022. Once considered by many (including myself) as one of the worst signings of the Farhad Moshiri era, Iwobi has completely and utterly turned his Everton career around, and thus it came as no surprise when news broke after the game that the club will be entering into talks with Alex in regards to extending his contract. It’s been incredible to see the Nigerian go from an unwanted benchwarmer to the first name on the team sheet. Long may it continue.
Alex Iwobi's game by numbers vs. West Ham:— Squawka (@Squawka) September 18, 2022
34 passes in final third
13 final third entries
8x possession won
3 duels won
3 touches in opp. box
2 chances created
He's now assisted three of Everton's last four goals in all comps. ️ pic.twitter.com/lsyCLEtCCf
Neal’s New Normal
Scoring against the Hammers has become bog-standard for Neal Maupay, but the French striker couldn’t deny how much this goal meant to him and the team. It was evident after the Derby just how upset Maupay was about missing that golden chance in front of the Gwladys Street End, and so it will have done him a world of good to score such a beautiful and important goal in today’s match. With Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s return imminent, the Toffees seem to finally have some attacking options at their disposal.
12 - Neal Maupay has ended his longest ever run of Premier League appearances without a goal (12); the Frenchman has scored in all three of his Premier League starts against West Ham. Lift-off. pic.twitter.com/qfnCK2mBoU— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 18, 2022
As previously mentioned, Everton’s defensive record last season was... well... dreadful. Only Southampton, Leeds, Watford, and Norwich shipped fewer goals. However, Everton currently sit amongst the best of the league when it comes to conceding, sitting level with Manchester City and Liverpool. Despite struggling to find goals so far this season, if Everton can sustain this staunch defending, they will be very difficult to beat which is paramount in improving upon last year’s unacceptably poor league finish.
Everton have conceded 6 goals in the Premier League this season - only Brighton (5) have conceded fewer. #EFC— EFC Statto (@EFC_Statto) September 18, 2022
After dropping both of their first two games of the season, Everton have made themselves much more difficult to beat over recent weeks. The Toffees have now put together their first 5-game unbeaten run in the Premier League since December of 2020, although four of those five were wins under Ancelotti. Regardless, this was a massive victory for Frank Lampard’s project, and his squad’s continued progress is clear for all to see. The three points move Everton up to 13th as we head into the international break, and Evertonians will be able to enjoy the two weeks off after finally securing a win.