Premier League
West Ham United 0-1 Everton 

Saturday, 28th October 2023
by Chris Wilkerson

West Ham's poor form continued after a lifeless display ended with a 1-0 defeat at home to Everton.

Creating very little and attacking without purpose, The Hammers were beaten by their inability to play football with the ball, and the hard work of an Everton truly in Sean Dyche's image.

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Moyes's side weren't even beaten by counters and breakaways, but by a simple move that saw Calvert-Lewin - playing like the striker David Moyes needs - easily best his two centre back opponents and finish excellently.

Aaron Cresswell made his first appearance of the season in place of the suspended Emerson, whilst Tomas Soucek was dropped in favour of Mohammed Kudus, who played centrally ahead of a two of Ward-Prowse and Alvarez.

What will be interesting to debate in the coming days is how replacing Soucek did not suddenly make West Ham a better passing side, a slicker and quicker team.

The sensible in their views will have known that one game is no judge, for good or for bad, but it does raise a question about what we miss without him. Some may fear that this will only increase the manager's reliance on him.

This game was made harder by the poor performances it followed. West Ham have been poor for the majority of the last three games, and four points from the previous five games in the league. There was now pressure on the team, mostly because of just how bad they have been in the past two, and an opponent that was not going to play to the strengths of The Irons.

With the emphasis on them controlling the ball and punishing their opponents, this was the flattest performance of the season. They created half-chances, openings that dissipated with poor or plain slow decision making, but rarely anything that amounted to much.

We have seen these games before, a team sat deep and protecting their box, waiting more on clinical moments than overwhelming pressure. The problem is that these are usually West Ham's tactics, and they're also the perfect counter to West Ham's play. Everton were not even particularly great at it, but they didn't need to be.

A sign of the frustration of this game was given early. A clever pass down the channel by Aguerd saw Paqueta rushing down the left. His cutback to the edge of the box found Kudus, who saw Antonio in a better position. His poke to the striker was between his feet, and Antonio couldn't control and move the ball into a shooting position quickly enough. What should have been a big chance didn't even end with a shot on goal.

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Kudus was causing the most excitement for the one West Ham fans. Every time he got the ball, that ripple of expectation could be heard. He added a sparkle in midfield, turning to push forward with the ball. His space was limited, but his speed countered that. When he did push on, Paqueta would often drop into the space he had left, ready to receive and pull the strings. One lovely chipped ball over the defence was just a touch too far ahead of a run from Bowen.

After 20 minutes of little incident, The Hammers' best moment of the half came from the feet of the Brazilian and fell to the club's best finisher, Bowen.

A lovely diagonal to the corner of the box found Paqueta on the left. He popped it over Patterson's head and squeezed past him, before rolling a perfect pass in front of Bowen right on the edge of the box. It all looked perfect, but Bowen snatched at it, scuffing his shot wide with time and space.

Everton quietly awaited their moments, repelling West Ham as they could, with the young centre back Branthwaite particularly impressively. They were gifted a great chance on 25 minutes after Paqueta dallied and then casually left a ball he had let bobble between himself and last man Aguerd.

The defender backed off, knowing that committing and losing the challenge would see Everton through with no defenders to face. Harrison nipped in whilst Paqueta waited for someone else to take control, and as he burst into the West Ham half, Doucoure and Calvert-Lewin ran in ahead of him.

Aguerd was smart, committing to neither player, holding a good central position between the two and making Harrison make a choice. The winger would have to play the right pass, and accurately, because Aguerd was not going to commit to a challenge early and open it up to be passed around.

Harrison delayed, waited, and eventually decided to shoot as he reached the edge of the area. It was weak and the chance was wasted.

Soon there were handbags as Tarkowski challenged Kudus, although the whole incident would have resolved if Pickford hadn't run from his goal to shout and point in the face of a grounded Kudus. The goalkeeper and Ghanaian were both carded.

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It punctuated the end of West Ham's prominence in the game. Until then, they had probed and tested, but having found little joy, they wilted. The manager will need to work on their resilience, too easily were they deterred by resistance.

At the same time, Everton were buoyed by their success, and grew into the game. By half-time, these were two equally matched teams.

West Ham started quickly in the second half and Bowen was presented with another good chance after a delightful Cresswell freekick from the left. Curling beautifully in that space between defence and goalkeeper, it bent round to the back post. Bowen was the target and it reached him, but the winger's stooped header looped up and over the bar from a good position.

It had given West Ham fans a little bit of hope that their side would turn the screw and force a lead, but five minutes after the restart, Everton scored.

West Ham had had multiple chances to control the ball and start a move, but a mixture of bad passes and aimless lumps had failed to find a teammate. Eventually, Coufal smashed a pass at groin height for Antonio, who was beaten to it as Branthwaite went around him and got there first.

His forward pass to Calvert-Lewin saw the striker lay it off to Harrison and then put himself between the two defenders to receive again. Both Zouma and Aguerd were fooled by a very sharp touch out of his feet, moving it away from him and back in the direction it came from, before firing low across goal and sharply into the bottom corner, beating Areola with accuracy and power.

Not only was it an example of the slack defending from a pair that seem unable to find form together, but it encapsulates the dangers of being unable to play passing football from defence. The ball was wasted too many times, the defence put under pressure by their own team's sloppy passes back and forward. Antonio is floored, and blamed by many for his lack of impact, but what can he do with a ball fizzed at him like that? These are not mistakes in isolation, they are symptoms of wider problems.

Still, they could have levelled instantly. Antonio chased down the left wing and laid a ball back Paqueta, who danced a little before crossing. His ball was poor, right to an Everton defender, but headed up, rather than out.

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It looped back to Bowen, but the ball dropped at pace, and even though he was seven yards out, the forward blasted his volley over, not quite getting the subtlety required, instead only power.

Just before the hour mark, Moyes made his first change, replacing Antonio with Benrahma. The Algerian took Paqueta's spot on the left as the Brazilian went up front. As the hour ticked over, it also marked the first time this season The Hammers hadn't scored in the opening hour of a game. They nearly celebrated that milestone by conceding a second.

It was as simple football as you'll see, a long ball forward flicked on by Calvert-Lewin putting Doucoure through. He was left free by Zouma, who chose to join Aguerd in contesting the header with the striker, leaving his man free to exploit the space. Lacking a bit of pace and a bit of composure, Doucoure shot early, forcing a very good save from Areola to turn it around the post with his left hand.

A smarter man than this reporter said to me this week that Paqueta sometimes plays like a man trying to prove his previous bookings can't have been controversial, just by showing how often and recklessly he can get booked now. He was booked for dissent as frustration grew. He was soon followed into the book by Alvarez, meaning both men will miss next week's game against Brentford.

Soucek was thrown on for the underwhelming Ward-Prowse, but there was little hope. Moyes even replaced Cresswell with Ings, in a move that can only be described as desperate.

Pickford was finally tested, albeit by a bad Aguerd cross that threatened to loop over his head and in, but West Ham did have that one big chance, that old clich?(C), just before the game finished. A cross to the back post found Benrahma, and the Algerian did excellently to hit it first time with power and control. Unfortunately for him, Pickford was a match for it, diving across and pushing out firmly.

It was a lively end to a game that had little to get you off your seat.

Dyche's sides defend well. Moyes's sides often struggle to break down the kind of tactics they often employ with success. A goal was likely to be enough, and the quality from Dominic Calvert-Lewin settled it.

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Manager's Rating

David Moyes 5/10: This is not one where he was outmanaged in finer details like Emery did last week. This was more of a wholesale weakness with Moyes teams, one of breaking down deep defences. But the balance of the side has also gone in his shift to the comfort of 4-2-3-1, even when a 4-3-3 shape not only suits his players more, but has been successful for the side this season. The manager has to answer these critics.

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Player Ratings

Alphonse Areola
One very good save, one goal that was very well taken.

Vladimir Coufal
Failed to provide anything useful going forward.

Aaron Cresswell
He tired in his first appearance of the season, but showed moments of what he?EUR(TM)s about. Solid passing, one beautiful freekick delivery. The lack of overlap on the left did affect the balance.

Kurt Zouma
It should have been 2-0 after Zouma left his man to go contest a header with Calvert-Lewin, one Aguerd was already competing for. Both slack marking the striker for his goal.

Nayef Aguerd
Some bursts of pace to recover possible breakaways, but the pair of centre backs were not good enough to handle Calvert-Lewin. That said, he was more active and decisive than Zouma, and his smart defending prevented an easy chance for Harrison and support in the first half.

Edson Alvarez
Arguably West Ham?EUR(TM)s best outfield player, Alvarez tried to take control and lift the team with his passing from defence, and then pushed forward late on. He was fine, but the shooting got wayward, and his desperation made his attacking presence worse.

James Ward-Prowse
More solid in the two there when Alvarez plays, mainly because the Mexican is so good at sweeping up danger. But he struggled to make a positive attacking impact, and he probably needs to be playing a touch further forward to do that.

Mohammed Kudus
In the early stages, Kudus excited the crowd every time he got the ball. He turned in tight spaces and got okay moving forward. That influence faded as Everton got to grips with him, and that pretty much ended West Ham?EUR(TM)s promise.

Lucas Paqueta
Petulance got him suspended, and it interrupted his game too often. A second week where a bit of space in the box leads to him trying the acrobatic when he could make a simpler and more effective choice.

Jarrod Bowen
Mykolenko dealt with him comfortably. A game where his time drifting away from the play didn?EUR(TM)t mean he could pop up and prove decisive, fluffing his big chance and failing with others.

Michail Antonio
Suffers in games where the defence sits deeper and he?EUR(TM)s asked to play like a more conventional striker. Not that he?EUR(TM)s helped, what with a continuous desire from his team to smash balls at him.


Said Benrahma
(Replaced Antonio 57) His volley was the best chance and effort created. But he really does look lost as a player. Rarely beats a man, doesn?EUR(TM)t pick out passes, often weak.

Tomas Soucek
(Replaced Ward-Prowse 73) Not sure what this substitution was meant to provide, but he ambled around awkwardly and killed a few attacks with his inability to play football quickly.

Danny Ings
(Replaced Cresswell 85) No impact, no point.

Lukasz Fabianski
Did not play.

Thilo Kehrer
Did not play.

Konstantonis Mavropanos
Did not play.

Angelo Ogbonna
Did not play.

Pablo Fornals
Did not play.

Maxwel Cornet
Did not play.

Match Facts

West Ham United: Alphonse Areola, Vladimir Coufal, Aaron Cresswell, Kurt Zouma, Nayef Aguerd, Edson Alvarez, James Ward-Prowse, Mohammed Kudus, Lucas Paqueta, Jarrod Bowen, Michail Antonio.

Goals: None.

Booked: Mohammed Kudus 28 Lucas Paqueta 69 Said Benrahma 76 Edson Alvarez 83    .

Sent off: None.

Everton: Pickford, Patterson, Tarkowski, Branthwaite, Mykolenko, Garner, Doucouré, Onana, McNeil, Harrison, Calvert-Lewin (Chermiti 89).

Subs not used: VirgĂ­nia, Lonergan, Godfrey, Gueye, Hunt, Dobbin, Danjuma, Beto.

Goals: Calvert-Lewin (50).

Booked: Pickford (28).

Sent off: None.

Referee:  Stuart Attwell.

Attendance: 62,469.

Man of the Match: Alphonse Areola.