It was billed as a clash between one side that were performing above expectations this campaign and another side that in contrast were somewhat falling short.
Everton had won just one of their previous eight as they made the trip to face a West Ham side hoping to strengthen their unexpected top four push with a victory. However, a hugely professional performance from Carlo Ancelotti’s side saw them come away within an unlikely 1-0 win.
The first half’s direct approach saw Dominic Calvert-Lewin win practically everything in the air, in spite of the Hammers’ towering defence, and it was the England striker who grabbed the only goal of the match on 24 minutes as he latched onto Ben Godfrey’s through pass and calmly slotted past Lukasz Fabianski for this 16th league goal of the season.
Thereafter, chances from David Moyes’ men were few and far between as they struggled to break down Everton’s steely defensive line, containing three centre halves in Yerry Mina and Michael Keane who both returned to the side alongside Ben Godfrey, with the tough-tackling Tom Davies and spirited Allan also sweeping up everything in midfield.
Employed in a right wing-back role, Seamus Coleman also had little trouble in pocketing Jesse Lingard, who has been a revelation for the Irons since arriving on loan from Manchester United in the January transfer window.
Jordan Pickford was not forced into a save at any point in the match, making it the first time West Ham have not registered a shot on target in a home league game since December 2017. Their best opportunity came in the first half when Said Benrahma’s free header flew agonizingly over the bar.
It was another win that followed the common theme of Everton’s successes this campaign. Without the creativity of James Rodriguez and with Abdoulaye Doucoure only just fit enough to make the bench, the Toffees had little interest in keeping hold of the ball, recording a possession stat of just 31%, and preferred instead to launch balls forward for Calvert-Lewin to try and flick on for strike partner Richarlison.
Even Mina being forced off with injury on 62 minutes could not help the hosts find a way back onto level terms and Everton continued their phenomenal away record, making it 11 league wins on the road this season.
It was an evening where almost everything had gone right for the Blues and yet the supporters must be cursing the fact that inconsistency and particularly poor home form has cost them a shot at being in a similar or even a better position than the East London outfit.
While the Toffees do still have an outside chance at European qualification, sitting in eighth and three points off their latest victims, favourable run-ins for the teams around them and with the scintillating Manchester City still to face away from home, it may be too little too late for Carlo Ancelotti’s side.
In different circumstances, it could have been a much more important victory.
featured image credit sky sports