As expected the Blue’s retained the same 11 that took a point at Anfield with a 4-4-2 system when in possession with Anichebe coming into the left side of midfield and Osman tucking inside when not in possession to be a bit more like 4-5-1 . The Hammers have shifted their formation and players with great regularity this campaign and today went with a more orthodox 4-4-2 system. This game was quite close to an old fashioned 4-4-2 battle with neither team designating a real holding midfielder or ‘Makelele’ role. As well as this, neither side used a player in the hole behind the striker. With nobody playing in these areas it meant there was a lot of open space between the lines of defence, midfield and attack.
Average positional diagram of Everton players in the 90minutes
West Ham strikers on top
Everton were out of the traps quicker and came close to taking the lead when Arteta smartly played in Beckford whose shot was snuffled by Green. Unfortunately it was not a sign of things to come as our visitors began to assert control on the game with two key factors behind this. Firstly they took advantage of the space afforded to them by Everton as shown in the below average position diagram. The Hammer’s ball retention from their their strikers was also superior to ours. Beckford’s ball retention was a poor 51% with Anichebe’s even worse at 48%. In comparison the impressive Hines racked up a tidy 88% with Piquionne also registering a solid 71%. Saha’s introduction at half time helped redress this with the Frenchman holding up play much better with 81% completion.
Screen Image of the build up to Spector goal- Notice Heitinga (circled) is caught upfield which makes Neville have to cover his position and Coleman is thus left one on one tracking Boa Morte’s run (white arrow) onto Noble’s through ball (red line)
The Hammer’s pressed home this advantage when Jonathan Spector slotted after good work down the left from Luis Boa Morte. The above screenshot shows how Jonny Heitinga gets caught out of position in the build up, stepping out of defence to press Noble who then bypasses him to feed Boa Morte down our usually defensively resolute right side weakened by Neville who is covering the out of position Heitinga. The following 10 minutes could have seen the Hammers out of sight. Firstly when Piquionne headed against the post following Heitinga’s slip and then when Hines broke into the acres of space between our midfield and defence (screenshot below) which led to Boa Morte’s disallowed goal.
Screen Image of gap between Everton defence and midfield – too big a gap in my opinion and this was something which West Ham exploited well with forward runs from midfield.
Moyes took decisive action in the second half, firstly by bringing on Saha for Beckford and then by shifting Fellaini further forward for the last 20mins with Osman tucking inside and Bilyaldedtinov playing wide left. Moyes is often lamented for his substitutions but to be fair they paid dividend today with both scorers and assists for the 2 goals coming from players affected by his personnel/positional shifts. Following a cross Fellaini won a header to allow Bilyaledtinov to hit a low half volley into Green’s right hand corner. In a game low in quality the Russian’s body movement and technique for the goal were truly world class.
Everton where now on top with the style of football becoming increasingly direct. In what was something of a microcosm of the season, just as things were looking as if they were turning for the better Everton took another 2 steps back. Sloppy defending from a delicious Wayne Bridge cross enabled the lively Piquionne to nestle a great header inside Howard’s right hand post.
Pass Completion Diagram Everton v West Ham
As the above passing graph shows, West Ham’s pass completion falters badly in the closing stages and with their target man out-ball Piquionne dismissed for his goal celebration their defensive clearances kept on hitting a Blue shirt. We eventually made them pay when good work by Osman fed the ball into the box for Rodwell whose flick found Fellaini and the big Belgian capped a fine second half display with a great finish past Green’s outstretched right hand.
With 12 draws this season Everton are looking increasingly likely to break the Premier League ‘most draws in a season’ record of 18 – Not really the kind of record we were looking at breaking back in August. Our poor form at Goodison has been the key factor. Only Wigan have won fewer games on their own patch than ourselves and our leaky defence again cost us today. Moyes post match comments about the effectiveness of Fellaini further up field I believe will see us start the next game with him advanced and a more direct style of play. This will be to the detriment of our passing style but Moyes may feel it is worthwhile if it can get us ‘winning ugly’ again. COYB.