Everton 2 West Ham United 0
Sunday, 3rd December 2006
by Nick Bull
I predicted a three-nil defeat whilst speaking to an Evertonian about two hours before kick off. One-hundred and eighty minutes later, I was feeling rather confident. An encouraging first forty-five had passed, with West Ham being the better team by far. Typically, come full time the tables had turned. Talk about the story of West Ham’s season.Forget the talk of the two Argentinean?EUR(TM)s, the takeover, possible January signings. It doesn?EUR(TM)t mean a thing. This season is going to be one long battle. Anyone that denies that fact is kidding themselves. The biggest problem is the away form. The common belief is that winning matches at home will keep you in the League. That is only partly true. Losing matches outside of the East End is contributing the most to the sides?EUR(TM) current plight. Two league goals away from Upton Park ?EUR" both back in August ?EUR" really says it all.
Sure, I take a little bit of heart from the first half display on Sunday. Goodison is a tricky place to go; West Ham?EUR(TM)s record in the blue part of Liverpool is appalling. However, what good is an encouraging start to a match when the pressure does not lead to a goal. The second half was pretty dire; the attitude of ?EUR~we tried, we failed?EUR(TM) seemed present for large periods.
For every bit of criticism he has received thus far, Carlos Tevez is gradually showing what a talent he really is. If I were Pardew, he would be one of four names that get put down on the team sheet automatically for each game*. His commitment cannot be questioned, nor can his desire and sheer willingness to score. Perhaps at times it got the better of him, overlooking passing to team-mates in better positions, however I certainly would not want to knock him down for his passion. He knows he is staying with us, and his effort reflects that.
(* The others being Rob Green ?EUR" solid goalkeeper-, Gabbidon ?EUR" heavily missed when absent ?EUR" and Mullins ?EUR" the unsung hero.)
Green himself put in another good performance on Sunday. The wind meant conditions were tricky, but his kicking remained consistent, his handling of the ball was also very good too. The first goal he could do nothing about, the accuracy of the volley combined with its pace saw it glide into the top corner. Goal number two could have possibly been prevented had he decided to clear his lines using his feet. Going down to save the ball with his body was possibly a mistake, considering the proximity of Vaughn to the goal, along with the strength of the shot.
Other than that, the other performances put in by those in claret and blue were pretty woeful.
The defence looked rather shaky. The absence of Gabbidon was a big factor in this. Sure, Collins came in and did ok, but Anton looks lost and rather shaky without his normal partner next to him. He won very little in the air, he was casual on the ball and looked rather lost. Spector didn?EUR(TM)t have an awful game, but as an attacking outlet he offered very little. Konchesky was his normal self. Beaten for the first goal, he provided nothing going forward and was a weak link going back. Surely it?EUR(TM)s only time before McCartney gets a game at left back.
Just as bad were the midfield. They created so little of note they should not really deserve to be mentioned. At the start of the season, I had a feeling Bowyer could be Hammer of the Year. His previous spell was awful, and thus I thought he would play like a man possessed. Wrong. He should have really scored his chance in the first half, and, a silly booking aside, he was absent in the second period. Etherington?EUR(TM)s crossing remained very poor, rarely beating the first man as per usual. Mullins battled hard, though sometimes conceded possession due to pathetic balls from team-mates. Reo-Coker? Don?EUR(TM)t get me started. I?EUR(TM)m reading several appointments sections in the Broadsheets in the hope of seeing a ?EUR~Captain Needed?EUR(TM) advertisement.
The critics have turned on Zamora following his quiet display, but let?EUR(TM)s face it, he had nothing to feed off of. When he did get the ball he was not as bad as everyone was making out. Like Carlos, the boy really needs a goal as soon as possible. Nothing will improve his confidence, and his game, more than simply scoring a goal.
Wigan seem to be becoming a bogey side at Upton Park recently; two comfortable victories in as many trips to the Boleyn makes Wednesday night trickier than some people may believe. The importance of this match is not lost on me. Sheffield United won on Saturday. Watford drew at Manchester City. Charlton beat Blackburn. What a massive, massive match. Oh, Carlos to score too.
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Player RatingsRobert Green
Solid display in goal. Unlucky with both goals, did all he could.
Did not offer an attacking threat, and defensively did not have his best game.
Very poor all round.
Clearly missed Gabbidon. Very sloppy. Won little in the air.
Did what he was asked to do. Promising considering lack of opportunities this season.
Quiet, but nowhere as bad as other team-mates.
Not a captains performance.
Should have scored in the first half, very average performance.
When he gets his crossing right he will be a threat.
Signs of the World Class player we know are beginning to show. The goal is coming.
Urgently needs a goal. Did not offer an attacking threat ?EUR" partly down to lack of service.
(Replaced Zamora, 69) Not bad, not brilliant. Tried to liven up the game, to no avail.
(Replaced Bowyer, 69) Absent aside from one good chance.
(Replaced Spector, 84) A long way off of what he should be ?EUR" looked very sloppy. Gave the ball away for the second goal.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Match FactsWest Ham United: Robert Green, Jonathan Spector, Paul Konchesky, Anton Ferdinand, James Collins, Hayden Mullins, Nigel Reo-Coker, Lee Bowyer, Matthew Etherington, Carlos Tevez, Bobby Zamora.
Booked: Lee Bowyer 68 James Collins 78 .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
Everton: Howard, Yobo, Valente, Stubbs, Lescott, Osman, Carsley, Van Der Meyde, McFadden, Johnson, Beattie.
Subs not used: Wright, Vidarsson.
Goals: Osman (51), Vaughan (90).
Booked: Osman (62), McFadden (80).
Sent off: None.
Man of the Match: Carlos Tevez.