It’s been while, what with International breaks, holidays and golf trips (missed the Chelsea Game, bah). Last week saw us get played off the park by an organised Watford team, while our visitors were smashing big Sam’s Sunderland all over the place.
Traditionally, these games are close, with honours even at Upton Park last year, with Everton winning the league game, and WHUFC winning the League Cup game in dramatic style with Adrian scoring a penalty in the shootout.
West Ham lined up with Reid back in the centre of defence following the Ginger Pele’s sending off last week. Carroll was favoured up top again, with Zarate and Valencia on the bench, as Moses took up his slot on the right hand side.
West Ham started really well, with some composed football, which mainly involved moving the ball around a lot, and eventually trying to get it out on the wing to be crossed in for Carroll. As the game went on there were some pretty rough tackles going in to try and break up the passing game, but the ref kept all his cards in his pocket.
The breakthrough happened on the half hour, after Victor Moses has a shot blocked that dropped out to Lanzini, who under some pressure from an advancing defence, picked his spot and curled in a great goal past the fingertips of Tim Howard. West Ham were good for the lead, but Everton were starting to get some of the ball. And they had Lukaku, who had scored against us the last 6 times he has played against us. And he didn’t disappoint, as just before half time he ran onto a through ball from Gerard Deulofeu after a rare poor ball from Payet was intercepted.
The second half was little different but generated no more goals. Everton were really getting stuck in and still the ref didn’t really dish out the cards. This led to two tackles that resulted in Payet being replaced by Valencia, who then was replaced by Zarate (who picked up a yellow card – natch !).
Both teams has chances to win, but in the end a draw was a fair result to a real enjoyable game.
For me there were 3 main talking points.
One , Andy Carroll. Amongst the crowd he really splits opinion. For some supporters, he is immobile, and useless, for others he is doing what he is told. I’m in the latter group, and its interesting that the majority of people slagging him off are normally people who are new to the game. I agree he changes our style of play when he starts, and we do rely on the crosses into the box more, and that sits a bit uncomfortable with me. But everywhere he goes he takes at least two players with him, which opens up space for other, namely Moses, and Payet.
Secondly, the ref. Yes, he was shy with the cards, and yes it led to some possible injuries for WHU, but we got away with some bits and bobs as well, and it actually took me back to the old days when you were allow to tackle.
Lastly, and this one is more personal, Mark Noble. Once again he has been passed over for an England squad. One of the players who is in front of him is Ross Barkley. Yesterday it was obvious that Noble’s job was to man to man him. Now this isn’t a role he usually does, but it was one he did really well. Barkley had no space all day, and was back to poor passing, and generally ineffectual play. Noble deserves a chance while others are learning their game, that’s all I’m saying. I hope Roy was watching.
Overall, it was a great game, and other things are starting to be come real. Speaking to some Everton fans after the game, one mentioned it will be a shame not to come to the Boleyn next year. Being the first time I’ve heard it from someone “not close” to the club, it made me think, probably for the first time about how pivotable this season is for the club, potentially for ever.
On our opposition, Gerard Deulofeu was awesome, with some intelligent running and always looked dangerous. John Stones played like a player who could turn down a 40m move. He was simply brilliant, and made tackles that looked like they were going wrong, look easy and well executed.
Payet showed some bits of showboating class in the middle of park. Cresswell seems to be finding his form again, as does Jenkinson. But MOTM today was a choice in the engine room. Noble as mentioned earlier, was quality, and showed his class. However he was edged out slightly by Lanzini, who topped of a battling display with a goal.