West Ham United 0 Everton 1
Saturday, 8th May 2021
by Chris Wilkerson
A disappointing defeat to a diligent and disciplined Everton landed a blow in the chase to European places that West Ham may not recover from. An early Calvert-Lewin goal was enough to see off Moyes' side and give the visitors the three points and a 1-0 victory.It means West Ham have three games left with everything to do to catch any side above them. David Moyes and his side have a mountain to climb and pressure behind them with Liverpool, Everton and Tottenham on their tails.
Ancelotti?EUR(TM)s side came to keep a clean sheet, and as frustrating as it is, they defended excellently and deserved their victory. A back three full of height and strength dealt comfortably with West Ham?EUR(TM)s crossing, whilst moves through the middle had such limited space to take advantage of.
West Ham were unchanged, Diop keeping his place at the back with Ogbonna returning to the bench. In a cagey affair, it is undoubted that the Italian, as well as a return to fitness for Declan Rice, could well have changed the story entirely. The manager will have been only more angered to see Lanzini and Cresswell forced off during the game.
There was little between the two sides throughout, with little quality on show and organisation the key to victory. Everton were undoubtedly happy to frustrate, their away record showing just how comfortable they are on the road.
For West Ham, it was the kind of performance you will see from this team whether they are having a good season or a bad one. Deep defences and organised systems have thwarted the Hammers in the past ?EUR" almost every Chris Hughton Brighton match flooding back to the memory. They may consider themselves unlucky, they were certainly the team looking to play football and looked better than Everton at that, but they didn?EUR(TM)t ever force Everton to find more than they were happy to offer.
It led to a dull game, the pressure clearly the shoulders of each side. This is the business end of the season and Everton had come for the points, not the thrill of the chase.
The first half was a dire watch for the most part, the Calvert-Lewin opener after the 20-minute mark about the only thing any fan will remember from the first half hour of the match. Except maybe the repeated and nasty fouls from Tom Davies, all of which individually were yellows, yet none were punished by a referee who seemed happier avoiding decisions.
But it was the England striker who changed and won the game. It came from nothing, Ben Godfrey allowed to have possession on the halfway line with no West Ham player even moving towards him. In acres of space, the defender looked up to see Calvert-Lewin on the move. His pass was low but in the perfect area for the forward to chase, to easily beat Dawson to and then slot past Fabianski in a flash.
The simplicity made it all the more infuriating, with Diop wandering way out of position to chase Richarlison, the Brazilian running to nowhere. It left the space for the pass; it left the space for the goal.
It woke up West Ham a little bit, although the argument could be made that Everton shut up shop from here. Whatever the instruction, their defence was resolute and looked in no mood to be beaten.
There was fight, of course, this West Ham side never lack effort, but it was all huff and puff with little to show for it. Claims for a penalty on Antonio were waved away as Keane barged through him to clear a header. It was only more frustrating when players in claret and blue were penalised for lesser barges.
The Everton threat was not entirely diminished, Richarlison in particular playing Diop like a fiddle. The Frenchman never really got to grips with the running, whilst his timid approach saw him bullied often.
Still, there were chances for West Ham. Benrahma missed one of the better ones, a Fornals cross from the right floating to his man at the back post, only for the Algerian to miss goal under no pressure. If anything, he met it too well.
Going in a goal down at half-time, it was hard to know what the manager needed to do. Yes, his side had struggled to create chances, but they were controlling the ball and had all the pressure. And so they carried on, carried on banging their heads against the brick wall of Everton?EUR(TM)s defence.
Soucek?EUR(TM)s presence in the box was not consistent, forced into even more defending as Lanzini went off, but the midfielder also kept things together. The game was settled by the goal, and the best players on either side were holding midfielders. That?EUR(TM)s entertainment.
Sparks of entertainment came soon for West Ham, but were fleeting. A Fornals volley blocked wide gave the side some momentum.
That momentum came to a head after a fine passing move from left to right saw Fornals roll Coufal in down the right of the Everton penalty area. The full back passed it beyond Pickford but off the inside of the post. The rebound fell to Bowen yards from goal, but hit him as he hurdled Pickford. Replays later showed he would have been offside had he scored.
From there on out, it was 30 minutes of more huffing and puffing. But Pickford was untroubled, West Ham blunted and the players short on ideas. All three substitutes made little impact, with Bowen, Yarmolenko and Fredericks all stifled or poor.
In fact, time drifted away with Everton feeling they should have sealed it. It was Jesse Lingard to the rescue in one moment, tracking Seamus Coleman from front to back and making a slide tackle in front of goal that surely saved definite defeat. Moments later, Josh King should have scored, only to head against the post when 6 yards from an open goal.
In the end, it was grab a goal and hold on for Everton, and it worked. Their defence stood up to the test and West Ham wilted.
It leaves the Hammers five points behind Leicester, six behind Chelsea and with only three games to go. Of more concern might be now how far they drop down, with Liverpool a point and a game in-hand behind, Everton three points and a game spare too. Tottenham are only two points behind with three to play too.
As such, it?EUR(TM)s hard to feel positive. It wasn?EUR(TM)t a tragic loss, maybe even expected, but it means even three wins from three may well lead to this season ended with disappointment. There?EUR(TM)s still much to play for, European football a prize the team deserve, but little time left and some big guns coming for us. Let?EUR(TM)s see who handles the pressure best.
* Want to submit your match reports to KUMB.com? More details here ...
Click to view all West Ham United vs Everton match reports
Click to view all match reports by Chris Wilkerson
Like to share your thoughts on this article? Please visit the KUMB Forum to leave a comment.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Match FactsWest Ham United: , , , , , , , , , , .
Sent off: None.
Subs not used: .
Sent off: None.
Referee: Stuart Attwell.
Man of the Match: .