Everton settle for a point at Upton Park

The Blues struggled to find at extra gear to lift themselves above West Ham once the Hammers had lost their chief inspiration in Dimitri Payet,

Lyndon Lloyd 07/11/2015 14comments  |  Jump to last
West Ham United 1 - 1 Everton

When the post-mortem of this season is done and Everton have, perhaps, just missed out on the top four or a European place by a few points, it's games like this one, like the goalless draws at Swansea and Tottenham, and the ultimately unfulfilling Goodison derby that could be looked back upon as missed opportunities.

There is a maddening sense that this Everton side is playing within themselves at times, one fostered by an apparent lack of intensity and either the desire or ability to move up a gear and force the issue in order to win games they can and often should.

Maybe that's expecting too much this was an away game after all against a team sitting four points above the Blues at the start of play but, having gone into the half-time interval on a high note when Romelu Lukaku cancelled out Manuel Lanzini's sublime opener and then seen West Ham's main schemer, Dimitri Payet forced off through injury, it just felt as though all the conditions were there for an Everton victory.

If they were, Roberto Martinez's side failed to capitalise on them in what was, ultimately, a disappointing second half of precious few chances for either side. Indeed, both teams seemed at their most fluid when countering off the other's own attacks and stymied when the opposition had time to get men behind the ball and close off space and passing lanes.

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For the Hammers, much of their joy coming forward ebbed away once Brendan Galloway had belatedly got to grips with Victor Moses down the home side's right flank. The Nigerian international had revelled in playing on the young defender's inexperience in the early going, drawing him into marking too tightly and then losing him in the space created behind. He fired the first chance of the game into the side-netting, drew a couple of fouls in dangerous areas midway through the first half and drove in the shot that ultimately led to Lanzini's goal.

Everton, meanwhile, occasionally looked dangerous on the break but struggled in their usual pedestrian manner to break down the opposition when they were back in their shape. Martinez had kept faith with the team that had done so well against Sunderland last Sunday, making the one change to that team by starting Galloway in place of the injured Bryan Oviedo, but he has been frustrated in his search for a line-up capable of delivering consistent results.

Like Steven Naismith before him, Arouna Kone was unable to build on the platform of a superb hat-trick and he was the one to make way for Kevin Mirallas with 25 minutes to go in the second half. Had the Mirallas that came on to such stunning effect in the FA Cup third round replay here in January made a reappearance, the Blues might indeed have claimed all three points today but the Belgian was unable to influence this contest to the same degree.

As it was, Mirallas's tame shot straight at Adrian in stoppage time and Lukaku's near miss from an excellent Galloway centre a few minutes earlier were as close as Everton came to winning it, while Winston Reid bulleted the Hammers' only real chance after the interval a foot over the bar with a header off a corner.

The best of the action came in the first period, one which West Ham started confidently but which Everton had largely wrested control of before the home side scored. The Blues had had an early claim for a penalty on Ramiro Funes Mori waved away by referee Peter Tierney, Galloway had finished off some neat interchanges between Lukaku and Kone by ballooning a shot well over, and Barkley's wonderful turn and shot had ended with him firing straight at the 'keeper from the edge of the box.

Arguably their best chance up to that point had come off a quick free kick, however, where Kone had the chance to play Lukaku in on goal but the Ivorian elected to shoot himself and he sliced wastefully wide.

They were beginning to tighten the screw a little when Gerard Deulofeu's mesmeric run to the byline forced a corner off the legs of Adrian. But once again the opportunity to put a ball into the box for one of Funes Mori, Lukaku or the imperious John Stones to attack was eschewed in favour of a shorter corner routine by Barkley to James McCarthy that was quickly closed down.

From the subsequent West Ham move, Lanzini scored the opening goal as, not for the first time, Payet exploited the ocean of space that regularly opened up in front of Galloway on Everton's left flank by clipping a ball out to Moses. The former Wigan and Chelsea man jinked his way inside and hammered a shot off Gareth Barry's arm that was prodded instinctively away by Stones, but only as far as Lanzini on the edge of the penalty area, from where the Argentine bent a "postage stamp" shot into the top corner.

Everton recovered, though, and levelled two minutes before the break with a goal wonderfully reminiscent of the fourth against Sunderland last weekend. Finding himself in a more central spot on this occasion, Deulofeu spotted Lukaku's run and threaded an inch-perfect ball between the two centre halves who were probably positioned as narrowly as they dared but powerless to prevent the Belgian from racing through, rounding Adrian and rolling the ball home in one fluid motion. In doing so, he equalled Bill Dean's record of seven consecutive goals against the same opposition.

It was a moment of quick-fire, rapier-like incision that was largely absent from the rest of Everton's performance and it meant that the large bank of vocal travelling fans had to be content with a point on a ground where three have become the norm in recent seasons. Once more Evertonian thoughts wandered back to the summer and the failure to land a genuine creative string-puller to either supplement or push Ross Barkley for his place, because this is an Everton side that can be lethal when it's in the mood or when it's driven by genuine inspiration. Unfortunately, while consistency and a reliable match-winner elude them, they're likely to keep falling just short.

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Reader Comments (14)

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Jeff Hughes
1 Posted 08/11/2015 at 07:17:04
An excellent piece, Lyndon, and I couldn’t agree more with you about Everton playing within themselves. They look very comfortable on the ball against most teams and I believe they could challenge for a top four spot but their play is pedestrian apart from the occasional counter attack.

It seems to me that movement is limited and players are a little reticent in making runs that take them out of position but in a number of our drawn games a more dynamic approach could certainly have brought more wins.

I still think there is a hangover from the start of last season where our confidence from the previous campaign was punctured by Chelsea and other teams hitting us quickly on the break. We seem to be able to provide options for players playing the ball out from the back but too often our forward play is limited to a solitary runner. Was this a good point away from home? The table would suggest it was but I still think there is more to be seen from Everton.

Trevor Lynes
2 Posted 08/11/2015 at 08:02:53
We have been missing a really creative attacking midfielder for seemingly ages yet all our coach’s seem to produce are defenders.

Lukaku for his age is our talisman and I am still not convinced by Barkley as his potential although seemingly huge is so slow to develop. He should be scoring much more often and we remain reliant on our one Belgian. Mirallas knows where the goal is but is out of favour so our threat is diminished.

Lets just hope that Baines returns and finds the form and another ’Pienaar’ to work with down that left side as at present it is non existent as an attacking threat.

Lukaku is improving all around and surely Barkley should be matching him as he is certainly big enough. We must use Mirallas more often coming off the bench for either Kone or Barkley as no one else seems capable of scoring.

Stephen Brown
3 Posted 08/11/2015 at 09:11:35
Just watched MotD and the analysis of Lukaku goal included Lukaku possibly going to PSG. Just read Express match report which included that Stones will probably go to Chelsea and Lukaku is also being linked elsewhere!

I’m pretty level headed but it’s terrible ’journalism’ they can’t even report on the game without dropping this in even outside the hideous transfer window. Deulofeu will be linked elsewhere next!!

Keith Monaghan
4 Posted 08/11/2015 at 09:27:08
I get the impression from what I’ve watched and heard that a draw was fair result. However, it could also be viewed as another missed opportunity given West Ham losing their main man.

The reality is, yet again, our main problem is lack of creativity in midfield; the headless-chicken-like McCarthy as ineffective as he has been for last and this season, and Barkley again conspicuous by his lack of contribution apart from continuously wasting dead-balls.

I would replace Ross with Mirallas and McCarthy (a very average Premier League midfield player now) with Cleverley as soon as he’s fit – we need to get in the real world and realise that these two are a liability and sign additional, better options in midfield.

Andrew Clare
6 Posted 08/11/2015 at 10:24:58
Stephen (#3),

I agree with you but unfortunately it’s a fact that only 3 or 4 teams are likely to have any chance of winning anything; so, if a club like ourselves has players of exceptional talent, the journalists believe said players will want to move on to those 3 or 4 teams in order to meet their ambitions.

We are just members of the ’supporting cast’. The stars are those teams that are likely to win something. It’s a fact of life that the main characters receive all of the attention.

Having said that, I still think that with two top class additions we really could be a team to be ’reckoned’ with. They are a top class goalkeeper (Marshall of Cardiff is the man) and a creative dominating midfielder who ’runs the show’ like Souness did for our neighbours in the 80s or Roy Keane for Man Utd. I can’t name anyone but I am sure he is out there somewhere. Our team is lacking a strong personality, a leader.

David Hallwood
7 Posted 08/11/2015 at 12:40:21
Great report Lyndon, but only saw extended highlights on Sky, but from what I saw the draw was a fair result.

Just been watching goals on Sunday wiff 'Arry Bassett and he commented on Lukaku's goal that the only thing that passing in front of teams achieves it that it looks good on the stats. Defenders hate balls played behind them and in PSG-bound Lukaku we have one of the best 'on-the-shoulder' CF out there. In addition Barca-bound Delefeou Man U- bound Barkley and Chelsea-bound Stones are all capable of delivering quality defence splitting passes but we don't see enough of them in the game, with RM preferring a more measured pass-pass-pass, even though frustratingly enough we always look better on the counter with just 1 or 2 passes.

Totally agree with Lyndon in that we'll look back on games like this and Swansea and the derby and rue points dropped, but what we haven't got in our locker is the ability to win not only ugly, but when 3-4 of the team aren't performing and you somehow come away with the points. That's why in my view Man U are genuine title contenders-difficult to beat, even harder to watch but just watch them rack up points.

Frank Crewe
8 Posted 08/11/2015 at 13:24:17
While we have Barry and McCarthy in the side, we’ll never win enough games to be serious top 4 contenders. In over 2 seasons they have only scored a measly 4 goals between the two of them. Most games they barely make it out of our own half of the pitch. They just sit in the middle of the park knocking the opposition over and picking up cards. We’re basically playing with 6 defenders.

Until we get at least one midfield player who can get ahead of the forwards, we simply won’t give the oppositions defense any problems.

RM should drop one of them (I don’t care which). Move Barkley alongside the other one. Move Geri behind Rom and put Lennon and Kone/Mirallas out wide.

In the last two games, we’ve seen the kind of defense-splitting pass that Geri is capable of but opportunities to deliver it are restricted as long as he is out on the wing. We need creativity and he is our most creative player by a mile. Barkley should watch and learn because Geri is easily better than him.

Dave Abrahams
9 Posted 08/11/2015 at 13:38:54
Frank (#8),

I agree with most of your post and although Lukaku took his goal very well, it was the quickness of Deulofeu’s wonderful pass that really made the goal. If Delboy had delayed that pass for even a split second then Lukaku would have been offside.

As you say Frank it wouldn’t do Ross any harm to have a good look at how Geri plays his passes.

Still hoping Barklay can utilise the skill he has but it is very frustrating waiting for him to play well consistently.

David Hallwood
10 Posted 08/11/2015 at 13:56:59
Agree with Frank & Dave (#8); the fact they offer nothing going forward and as we’ve conceded 21 goals in all competitions this season, and if, as Frank pointed out, we are playing with 6 defenders well it’s a very poor return for a defensive formation.

I would prefer Barkley for either of them, if you remember the one and only time he played there v QPR last season he scored a great goal and his distribution and control of the flow of the game was excellant. And would like to see Miralles or even Nessie in the 3.

Tony Rutherford
11 Posted 08/11/2015 at 14:42:29
David, that’s what I’ve been saying for two seasons now. Considering we play with two defensive midfielders, we don’t half ship a lot of goals.

I reckon it’s time to sacrifice one of them now and have a go at teams. What have we got to lose?

William Cartwright
12 Posted 08/11/2015 at 16:03:12
We lack an approach player who can really turn it on at the highest level. We are told there are non available... Nonsense.

I see Liverpool are said to be closing in on Pato. Well that’s that. If and when he signs for them, trust me they will be out of sight. He has been available for the last 9 months, but meanwhile we invest in no-one for that "uniquely phenomenal" creative and deadly attacking skill.

Jay Harris
13 Posted 08/11/2015 at 16:03:32
Spot on Lyndon.

We seem to start every game in slow motion and then when we do get going we don't seem to want to go the extra yard.

I don't know if it is the manager telling them to be more controlled or whether they are just not fit enough but now would be a good time to step up a gear.

Dave Cooper
14 Posted 09/11/2015 at 16:03:17
On previous occasions I have suggested that the Blues lacked physicality but, with the arrival of Funes Mori, Galloway and return of Kone, we now have a substantial increase in height. Although it has not helped in our opponent’s penalty area but maybe it is covering up for Howard’s lack of conviction in coming for high balls in our 6-yard box.

Watching yesterday’s game, it felt that we just needed someone to take the game by the proverbial scruff of the neck to get all 3 points. But currently we don’t have that player. No Reidy, Gravesen, Carsley or dare I say Neville, to be seen anywhere. However, I thought we generally did okay yesterday against a team that was determined from Bilic’s tactics in the 2nd half not to lose and go into the two-week break on the back of a defeat. In fact I think Martinez shared that view as well.

But, apart from Howard, Barry and Kone none of the rest of the players were much older than 25 and some either in their teens or just out of them. Age matters. The saying "If you are good enough, then you are old enough" is often used to counter the argument about young players in most sports. But yesterday there were definitely some dodgy decision-making moments for Stones, Funes Mori, Galloway, Barkley, Lukaku and Deulofeu and that’s more than half the team. But away to a top 6 team, they came away with a more than creditable draw and with little more positive direction could have had all 3 points.

Sometimes with young players you never know what to expect and that sums up the Blues at the moment. Occasionally brilliant, often frustrating but apart from parts of the match against the Arse never really outplayed or outclassed.

Can Martinez find someone to harness all these talents on the field before they get picked off by "bigger" clubs? I hope so, but sadly I don’t think so.
Les Netherwood
15 Posted 09/11/2015 at 22:24:30
The midfield is too defensive(the Martinez way) and far too slow with Barry selected for every game at the expense of everybody else He is usually dispossessed or gives the ball away on the half way line setting up an opposition counter attack.

McCarthy is much active when Barry is out and much more involved. Mirallas should not be on the bench all the time, he is an attacking midfielder which is something we are lacking due to tippy tapping backward and forward all the time.

Howard is not bothered by the critics he says... nor should he be with Martinez selecting him all the time no matter what. He should be shipped out along with Kone and all the Wigan crowd Including Martinez.. but will BK ever do anything except sit there like a dummy?

The next few games will show if we are making any headway... or back in the old routine again.

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