David Hautzig's Match Report

Everton 1, West Ham 3. Unexpected Pleasure.

That didn’t take long. From a summer of excitement to an autumn of discontent. About a month to my reckoning. Me? I’m back to apathy. I find it easier.

I was over for the Wolves debacle. My cat runs more in an average day than our team did. Next to me was a friend and customer, Alex. Two and a half years ago the young Alex adopted West Ham as his EPL club after I started supplying the majority of the wine at his wine bar. While at the FA Cup replay against Liverpool and saying goodbye to Upton Park, Alex texted me a photo of his new Payet kit. He was immediately given a nickname by those in attendance with me at the match, including Nigel Kahn, Dan Silver, my best mate Jon, and our overlord Iain.

“Poor Bastard”.

I had a great meal at Hawksmoor Air Street the other night with Alex, Dan, and my friend Neil Barnett. As we discussed the latest ridiculousness surrounding our club, Dan and I simply couldn’t help but laugh. At times uncontrollably. You really couldn’t make the stuff up. Alex just stared on with a glazed look in his eyes, like Mitchell McDeer in The Firm as he discovers the truth about the law firm he joined. Neil, the former presenter on Chelsea TV, joined more in the laughter than the sympathy Alex clearly needed. Today brought some unexpected smiles to go with the laughs.

Space. In Star Trek it was the final frontier. At West Ham it’s what every team we play has in abundance. In the midfield, in the box, everywhere. In the opening ten minutes Everton looked unbothered on the ball, with space and time to work. The Hammers, on the other hand, looked labored and bereft of ideas. Walcott had a shot inside the box that was blocked by Diop, and later won a corner off of Masuaku. Gana sent a good pass to Calvert Lewis that came inches from a clean breakaway. Meanwhile, any West Ham advance ended in a wayward pass to someone in blue.

And then in the 11th minute, out of nowhere, Balbuena intercepted a pass and fed Obiang. Obiang turned quickly and played a lovely give and go with Arnautovic that sent the Austrian to the races. Heading into the box with only Pickford to beat, he saw Yarmolenko streaking down the center and unselfishly…something Arnie isn’t really known for…rolled the ball into the path of Yarmolenko and the first time starter did what he was purchased to do.

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Everton 0
West Ham 1

The visitors had another chance in the 15th minute when Noble was fouled 25 yards from goal, handing West Ham a free kick. The delivery from Anderson found Diop but the young French defender couldn’t get much power on his shot and Pickford saved it easily.

Everton should have drawn level in the 25th minute when Digne went on an unchallenged run down the left before sending a terrific cross into the box that Cenk Tosun got on the end of right in front of Fabianski. Left, goal. Right, goal. He went straight. Save. Yarmolenko was guiltily of not tracking back and fighting Digne. Deep breath.

When we signed Yarmolenko, Neil Barnett told me he thought 17 million was a bargain. The little I saw of him in pre-season certainly made me take notice. Then, in his first few appearances he looked tired. Quickly. So I wasn’t sure. But on Friday, Neil predicted a West Ham victory on his satellite radio program here. Furthermore, he said Yarmolenko would be the main force behind the prediction. In the 31st minute, Pickford looked like he played for us when he sent an awful ball out that Noble intercepted and was fouled. Atkinson played advantage, and Yarmolenko took full advantage. Working to his left across the top of the eighteen yard box, he finally made enough space for himself to unleash a curling shot that rippled the top corner.

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Everton 0
West Ham 2

Yarmolenko almost went from hero to Ukrainian goat in the 36th minute when he lost control of a back pass from Rice, and Cenk Tosun jumped all over it. With Walcott on his right, the Turkish striker chose to go it alone and fired a low shot that Fabianski did well to stop. He couldn’t handle the rebound, but Balbuena was there to hoof it to safety. A minute later, Masuaku was very luck not to see red when he went up to play a long ball intended for Walcott. Instead of the ball, Masuaku played Walcott’s skull. With his studs. Lucky, lucky boy.

The two things that went through my mind as the first half wound down were this. First, 2-0 has always been my least favorite lead. I’ve lost count of the number of times we have watched 2-0 fizzle away. Second, giving up a goal at this juncture could easily be the beginning of a typical West Ham collapse. So when Kenny sent an inch perfect cross to Sigurdsson, and the latter beat Fabianski with a header, all those fears came to the surface.

Halftime
Everton 1
West Ham 2

The opening ten minutes of the second half were similar to many an opening ten minutes of a match. Both sides moved forward, but with trepidation. On defense, everyone looked afraid to make a mistake. In the 57th minute, Kenny made a mistake by leaving the ball unattended. When I saw a West Ham player jump on it, I leaned forward. When I saw it was Noble, I sat back. By the way. I thought Noble had a good game, so I’m not taking a swipe at him. He’s slow. What can you do?

Oh. If Bernard had either scored or set up the equalizer after muscling Yarmolenko off the ball deep in West Ham territory, the man with the brace would have had one large bar tab to pay.

Looking back a few months ago when Obiang was seemingly on his way out, I wondered why. If reports are true, that he wanted to return to Italy but did not make a fuss about it, his professionalism should be lauded. Today, his interplay with Arnautovic will also be lauded. In the 61st minute, much like the setup for the opening goal, Obiang and Arnautovic worked a quick one-two on the outside of the Everton box. This one ended with Arnautovic poking a rolled ball from Obiang behind Pickford. Yet as so many West Ham silver linings, there was a dark cloud as Arnautovic limped off holding the back of his left knee.

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Everton 1
West Ham 3

Everton tried to answer quickly. First, Cenk Tosun got on the end of a pin ball machine period of play right in front of Fabianski but sent his shot over the bar. Then Walcott sent a low cross into the box that nobody got on the end of except Fabianski.

Everton were given a chance in the 76th minute when Walcott went to the races down the center and was pulled down by Rice. The young Irish midfielder saw yellow. Then Yarmolenko saw stars when his face was the part of the wall that stopped the free kick from Sigurdsson.

West Ham showed a desire to go for a fourth when Antonio sent a long cross field pass that Anderson ran down. A bit of skill in the area won the Brazilian a corner. Everton did well to handle it, but the intent showed by the visitors was good considering the predicament at the bottom of the table.

Everton had a golden opportunity to close the gap to one goal when Digne sent a tremendous cross into the box from the left that Niasse got on the end of after timing his run just as perfectly. His volley sounded like a rifle shot as it smashed against the crossbar and flew out. If ever there was a moment that historically had a predictable outcome it was that. Ball goes in, we hold on for dear life. But instead…..

Five minutes of added time did nothing for my confidence, despite the two goal advantage. Snodgrass gave away a free kick in the 92nd minute on the left side of the West Ham eighteen yard box, but despite Digne doing well with the delivery Niasse couldn’t get his shot on target.

There was talk on television here that Perez refused to warm up, and that’s why Antonio replaced Arnautovic. Well, if Perez hoped that move would fail and Pellegrini would crawl back to him asking for forgiveness, he will have to wait past rapture. Antonio reacted brilliantly to his demotion from starter, with outstanding hold up play and clock management.

Final Score
Everton 1
West Ham 3

Was this a glimpse of what Pellegrini is working on? Was all of his lineup shuffling waiting for this moment? Time will tell. But there wasn’t really a weak link today. Everyone did their job well. Diop and Balbuena look to be our center backs for reasonably long time. Anderson, despite a few strolls and one flop that really pissed me off, looked more in tune with the pace of the EPL. And Yarmolenko looked just plain good.

The work part of my trip last week went very well. My new partners in the UK, Red Squirrel Wines, are consummate professionals. Not to mention incredibly nice people. I was starting to wonder if they were the only good team I had in the UK. They may still be the best I’ve got, but hopefully the Hammers can inch their way back in that direction as well.

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Match Report

Ten Things We Learned from Everton 1 West Ham 3

Isn’t football great. I don’t think any of us saw that coming. Everton are no pushovers and didn’t play badly. We just played better, and we played as a team. From the back right up to the strikers. It was a complete performance.

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1. We can win at Everton. Again.
2. Find the right formation and this team can play.
3. Fabianski another Man of the Match performance.
4. Arnautovic another Man of the Match performance. Ditto for Declan Rice who was superb.
5. Yarmolenko proved he is the player we thought he could be from his sub appearances.
6. Mark Noble’s playing death has been prematurely announced.
7. Lucas Perez is a total dick for refusing to warm up. What on earth was he thinking of?
8. Anderson had his best match for us so far.
9. Antonio looked hungry when he came on.
10. I haven’t mentioned the defence yet. They all did well with one terrible lapse in the 67th minute.

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A great day to be a Hammer. We can continue to believe. We can look forward to the next two matches without fear. If we play like this, we might even get something from them.


Match Thread

Match Thread: Everton v West Ham

Everton v West Ham
Goodison Park
KO 4pm
TV: Sky Sports
Radio: BBC 5 Live

Please use this thread to comment on the match as it progresses.


Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: Everton v West Ham

Blast from the past

West Ham United recorded a rare win at Goodison Park on the 14th December 2005. The Pussycat Dolls were number one with ‘Stickwitu’, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe topped the UK box office and, the following evening, Sir Trevor McDonald made his final ITN news broadcast after over 25 years.

Paul Konchesky had seen an effort saved by future Hammers goalkeeper Richard Wright before James Beattie flashed James McFadden’s cross beyond Roy Carroll to give Everton a ninth-minute lead in front of 35,704. The Irons were level ten minutes later when Tomas Repka’s innocuous cross from the right was turned past his own goalkeeper by Toffees centre-half David Weir.

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West Ham seized the initiative in the second half and Marlon Harewood was inches away from connecting with Matty Etherington’s left-wing cross. Etherington was involved in the Hammers’ winning goal, jinking in from the left touchline, beating two players before firing in a shot which Wright could only parry into the path of Bobby Zamora (pictured above) who tucked home the loose ball with 23 minutes left to play. My video below contains the action from this match, as well as interviews with Irons manager Alan Pardew, centre-half Anton Ferdinand and matchwinner Zamora.

Pardew’s Hammers went on to finish in ninth place in the top flight that season, while David Moyes’ Everton finished 11th. Marlon Harewood was the Hammers’ top goalscorer with 16 goals from 46 matches – Danny Gabbidon was voted Hammer of the Year, with Harewood runner-up. Chelsea won the league title in 2005/06 and Liverpool beat the Irons on penalties to win the FA Cup.

Everton have certainly been the Hammers’ bogey side in recent seasons – we have only beaten the Toffees twice in the league, home or away, since April 2007, drawing six and losing 12 in the Premier League since then. The last five wins at Goodison Park have been separated by an 11-year sequence – starting in 1972 before moving on to 1983, 1994, this featured match in 2005 and 2016. Can the Hammers break the sequence or will we have to wait until 2027 for our next win on the blue side of Merseyside?

Everton: Richard Wright, Tony Hibbert (Mikel Arteta), Joseph Yobo, David Weir, Nuno Valente, Simon Davies, Phil Neville, Leon Osman, Kevin Kilbane (Duncan Ferguson), James McFadden (Marcus Bent), James Beattie.

West Ham United: Roy Carroll, Tomas Repka, Anton Ferdinand, James Collins, Paul Konchesky, Yossi Benayoun, Hayden Mullins, Carl Fletcher, Matty Etherington (Christian Dailly), Bobby Zamora (Shaun Newton), Marlon Harewood.

Club Connections

Former Hammer and Toffee David Unsworth is currently in charge of the Under-23s at Goodison Park. He is joined in representing both clubs by:

Goalkeepers: George Kitchen, Richard Wright.

Defenders: William Wildman, George Eccles, Lars Jacobsen, David Burrows, Bob Young, Lucas Neill, John Russell, Alex McCartney, William Kelly.

Midfielders: Harry Dawson, Don Hutchison, Joe Blythe, Mark Ward, Ray Atteveld, Niclas Alexandersson, Danny Williamson, Ian Bishop.

Strikers: Tony Cottee, Chas Crossley, Tony Weldon, Alex McDonald, Mike Newell, Enner Valencia, Nikica Jelavic.

Slaven Bilic played for both clubs and managed the Hammers. Sam Allardyce and David Moyes have managed both the Toffees and the Irons.

Today’s focus though falls on a player who played just 13 matches for West Ham before finishing his career with Everton. Thomas Hitzlsperger was born in Munich on 5th April 1982 but began his professional career in England with Aston Villa in the 2000/01 season, making his full international debut for Germany in a 2-0 friendly victory in Iran in September 2004. After 110 appearances for Villa, the central midfielder moved to VfB Stuttgart in 2005 on a Bosman free transfer.

Hitzlsperger netted his first international goals in a 13-0 European Championship qualifying win in San Marino in September 2006, just a few months after appearing for Germany at the World Cup in his home country. The fluent English speaker was a central figure in Joachim Low’s squad at the 2008 European Championships, starting all three knockout fixtures as Germany finished as runners-up to Spain. After four and a half years back in his native Germany, and one Bundesliga title in 2006/07, he joined Italian side Lazio on a six-month contract in January 2010.

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Hitzlsperger, nicknamed ‘Der Hammer’ due to his ferocious shooting ability with his left foot, became Avram Grant’s first signing at West Ham United in June 2010. He had to wait eight months for his first competitive start after being sidelined with a thigh injury in pre-season training but scored on his long-awaited debut, a trademark bullet of a strike from 25 yards in the 5-1 FA Cup fifth-round win over Eddie Howe’s Burnley at the Boleyn Ground on 21st February 2011. Hitzlsperger’s right-wing corner also created the fourth goal, the inswinging cross headed home by Winston Reid for his first Hammers goal. A similarly thunderous strike led to Hitzlsperger’s first league goal for the Hammers, smashing in a loose ball to round off the scoring in the 3-0 home win over Stoke on 5th March 2011. He also slammed in a 20-yard equaliser in the 1-1 home draw against Blackburn on 7th May 2011. After 13 appearances for West Ham United and three goals, Hitzlsperger’s contract was terminated following the Hammers’ relegation to the Championship and he signed for VfL Wolfsburg in the summer of 2011. My video below shows all three of Der Hammer’s goals for the Hammers.

After one season, he returned to England and joined Everton in mid-October 2012 on a short-term deal lasting until the end of the following January. He made his debut for the Toffees as an 86th-minute substitute in a 2-1 victory against Sunderland at Goodison Park in November 2012 and made his first start when the Blues took on Reading at the Madejski Stadium the following week. On 11th January 2013 he signed an extension to his contract, keeping him at the club until the end of the season, with his last appearance for the Blues being as a sub in the home fixture against Reading in March 2013. He made nine appearances for the Toffees, without scoring.

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In September 2013, aged 31 and following his release from Everton during the summer, Hitzlsperger announced his retirement from football citing the strain of “many transfers and some injuries”. He had won 52 caps for Germany, scoring six goals. Now 36, Hitzlsperger became the most high-profile footballer to date to come out as gay in January 2014.

Referee

The referee on Saturday will be Martin Atkinson. 2018/19 is Atkinson’s 14th as a Premier League referee. Since West Ham United achieved promotion back to the top flight in 2012 Atkinson has refereed 21 of our league matches, officiating in nine wins for the Hammers, three draws and nine defeats. Atkinson is pictured below in his most recent Hammers match, our 4-1 defeat at Swansea in March. His other Hammers appointments last season were our 1-1 home draws with Leicester and Bournemouth in November and January respectively, our 3-0 home defeat to Brighton last October and our 4-0 opening weekend defeat at Manchester United in August 2017.

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Atkinson also refereed the Hammers’ FA Cup quarter-final at Old Trafford in March 2016, when he turned down appeals for a penalty after Marcos Rojo appeared to have tripped Dimitri Payet and failed to spot Bastian Schweinstieger’s block on Darren Randolph as Man Utd equalised late on. He also refereed our 1-0 win at Crystal Palace in October 2016, when he controversially sent off Aaron Cresswell for two very harsh yellow cards in quick succession.

Possible line-ups

Everton’s Seamus Coleman, Michael Keane, Phil Jagielka, Yerry Mina, James McCarthy, Beni Baningime and Andre Gomes are out injured for the visit of the Hammers, while Richarlison is suspended. Idrissa Gueye, Theo Walcott, Bernard and Dominic Calvert-Lewin have been passed fit. Everton are unbeaten this season but have won only once, despite leading in three of their four matches. The Toffees have won more Premier League matches (24) and scored more goals (80) against West Ham than any other team.

For West Ham United, Winston Reid, Jack Wilshere, Manuel Lanzini and Andy Carroll are on the sidelines. Chicharito is a major doubt through illness. Hammers manager Manuel Pellegrini turns 65 on Sunday. The Irons’ shot conversion rate is just 5% – only Cardiff, with 4%, have been less clinical in the Premier League this season.

Possible Everton XI: Pickford; Kenny, Holgate, Zouma, Digne; Schneiderlin, Davies; Walcott, Sigurdsson, Calvert-Lewin; Tosun.

Possible West Ham United XI: Fabianski; Zabaleta, Balbuena, Diop, Masuaku; Rice, Obiang, Noble; Yarmolenko, Anderson; Arnautovic.

Enjoy the game – Come On You Irons!


Talking Point

Tactical Analysis: What’s Happened to the Hammers and What Needs to Change?

Guest Post by Joshua King

With the appointment of Manuel Pellegrini in May and the splashing out of around £100 million on an array of talented players, there was plenty of reason for optimism at West Ham going into the new season. However, four straight Premier League defeats to start the season and that optimism has quickly waned. So why have West Ham struggled so far and what can be changed to turn their fortunes around? What’s Going Wrong?

Pellegrini Doesn’t Know His Best XI

So far this season it is already clear that Pellegrini isn’t sure what his best team is yet. In the 4 Premier League games to date, he has never put out the same team more than once. 17 different players have started for West Ham already with 4 changes made between games against Liverpool and Bournemouth and between Bournemouth and Arsenal games. This is partly understandable as 9 first team players have been signed over the summer and few players so far this season have shown any level of consistency to warrant a regular starting place. Having said this, you only have to look as far as teams like Watford and Wolves who have played the same team for every single game so far this season to realise that you need a consistent starting XI in order for players to gel and results to come.

High Defensive Line Combined with Low Work Rate

When he was first appointed as manager, Pellegrini promised fans attractive, attacking football that has become his trademark style over the years. Part of this system involves a defensive line that doesn’t stray beyond the 18-yard line in order to play opposition attackers offside – something we saw on a regular basis with his time at Manchester City. Trying to deploy such a line is admirable. However, attempting to use it against a deadly Liverpool side with slow centre backs in the form of Balbuena and Ogbonna is tactically naïve at best. Such a system left us brutally exposed to Liverpool’s brilliant attacking trio, eventually leading to an embarrassing 4-0 hammering. To make matters worse, a statistic has recently emerged showing that West Ham have covered only 421.59km so far this season – the third lowest distance in the division. Moreover, Wolves, Liverpool and Arsenal all completed a higher percentage of passes in their own half against West Ham compared to any other opposition this season. These statistics are damning and not consistent with a high pressing style that you would expect of a Pellegrini side. The combination of a high defensive line without significant pressure on the ball is tactical suicide and may explain why West Ham have already shipped 10 goals so far this season.

An Imbalanced Side with Lack of Mobility in Midfield

One major thing that has already become clear this season is that there is a distinct lack of balance to this West Ham side. For all the attacking talent at Pellegrini’s disposal, West Ham’s defence has been left wide open at times due to a lack of defensive cover from the midfield. So far in the Premier League, Pellegrini has deployed either 2 defensive midfielders in a 4-2-3-1 system or 2 central midfielders in a 4-4-2 system. However, against Liverpool, the holding midfielders of Noble and Rice were both brutally overrun by the 3 midfielders of Milner, Wijnaldum and Keita; so much so that Rice was even hauled off at half time. Moreover, against Bournemouth, a centre midfield partnership of Noble and Wilshere was exposed for one particular trait – a distinct lack of mobility. This was epitomised by Callum Wilson’s goal where Noble makes a pathetic attempt to keep up with the pacey striker, allowing him to run straight at the heart of the West Ham defence and score.

What Needs to Change?

We should be playing a 4-1-2-1-2 formation with Diop and Balbuena at centre back, Masuaku and Fredericks playing a slightly forward full back role, Sanchez as a libero, Anderson and Yarmolenko in wide roles, Wilshere at No 10 with Hernandez and Arnautovic up front. This formation and lineup would help solve some of the programmes they have been having…

Two Strikers

Firstly, West Ham need to play with 2 strikers up front. As you can see in the image below, when Wolves were in possession in deeper areas, Arnautovic would press the opposition’s goalkeeper or centre backs in an attempt to win back the ball or force an error. However, far too often he did this by himself with no cohesive pressing support from the midfield behind him. This meant that Wolves were easily able to play out from the back under little pressure and pass the ball quickly into their midfield in order to start attacks.

For a pressing system to work effectively, the team must press as a collective unit in order to block off passing routes and create pressing traps. Having said this, if Hernandez were to play up front alongside Arnautovic, the pair would be able to press opposition centre backs simultaneously with the midfielders behind stepping up to block off passing routes to full backs or into the midfield. This would force opposition goalkeepers into conceding possession or attempting inaccurate long balls.

If this pressing system were to be deployed properly, the high pass completion and low distance covered statistics mentioned above would soon change. Besides pressing, Arnautovic and Hernandez linked up well against Bournemouth, particularly in the first half, and managed to create a couple of good chances. Given time, this strike partnership could provide plenty of excitement for West Ham fans in the future.

Diamond-Shaped Midfield

One of the major benefits of playing a diamond shape in the middle of the park is that it allows Jack Wilshere to play in his best position, which is centre attacking midfield. By playing here, he is able to have a greater influence on the game than in central defensive midfield with through balls into the 2 strikers or by spraying balls into wider areas as he did effectively against Bournemouth, particularly in the first half. Also, a diamond shape slightly alters the positions in which the wide men of Anderson and Yarmolenko play. When playing a diamond, the wide midfield players tend to play slightly narrower than usual. This allows them to attack the half spaces found between the wide channels and the central area of the pitch. It also allows the superior attacking full backs of Masuaku and Fredericks to provide overlaps and occupy the wide areas vacated by Anderson and Yarmolenko. Alternatively, if Anderson and Yarmolenko decide to move wider, then Masuaku and Fredericks can create underlapping runs.

By playing this system, every channel of the pitch is occupied at the same time. When attacking, this means that multiple passing options are always available which allows the team to overload the opposition and create opportunities going forward. Also, by covering every channel, the team are able to prevent counter attacks by winning back possession more easily when the ball is lost high up the pitch. However, if the ball cannot be won high up the pitch, the team are able to drop back into a medium block 4-4-2 shape with Wilshere dropping back alongside Sanchez.

Single Pivot

By playing a 4-4-2 diamond formation, it means that one central midfield player occupies a deeper role in the middle of the park compared to a flat 4-4-2 shape which was seen against Liverpool. This creates a better balance to the side in providing greater protection for the centre backs by significantly reducing the space between the midfield and the back four. However, in order for the system to work, the player in this role must be disciplined in sitting in front of the 2 centre backs and rarely straying forward to join the attack. So far this season, Noble has played poorly in this position as his lack of mobility has been exposed. However, Sanchez has performed surprisingly well in this role with notable displays against both Arsenal and Wolves, deserving a place in the team for now. However, if his form were to dip, Obiang and Rice could be fighting to replace him.

It can often take time for a new group of players to gel and understand the system a manager wants. However, if West Ham don’t start to improve soon, then the pressure will only continue to mount. They now have a big game coming up against Everton where a result is desperately needed. Now it’s time to deliver!


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