The Blind Hammer Column
In his last post Blind Hammer looks at strategies for overcoming Everton.
Some insight into team weaknesses can be formed from monitoring the anxieties of their supporters. I have looked at some of the fears of Everton fan’s.
Everton supporters are disappointed, not least in their subsiding to a 3-1 defeat by the Hammers in the reverse fixture in September.
Despite this Everton have a similar record to West Ham. Both teams departed early in the FA Cup to lower league opposition. In the league Everton have drawn one game more and won one game less. They will actually leap frog the Hammers in the table if they gain revenge on Saturday. Conversely a win for the Hammers will create daylight and provide a 5 point cushion.Like West Ham, Everton have shown vulnerability from set pieces. This was demonstrated in their FA Cup defeat to Millwall. Toffees’ fans have savaged their team’s inability to defend and claim they are amongst the worst in the league for defending set pieces.
Unfortunately West Ham have not a great record at defending set pieces themselves. Until recently they were also one of the least potent at exploiting other’s fragilities. However, a recent flurry of set piece goals encourages more optimism that we can breach Everton’s supposed soft centre. A combination of Snodgrass’s recently improved delivery, and possibly Ogbonna’ (if played) or Rice’s headed prowess, could make the difference.
In the context of exploiting this perceived softness the case for Antonio’s involvement is strengthened.
Antonio may also provide a key to exploit another identified flaw.
Toffees fan have recognised a surprising vulnerability to the long ball. This was for example, considered key in their recent surrendering of a lead against Newcastle. In a game reminiscent of our Payet inspired win, Newcastle overcame a 2-1 deficit to win out 2-3. Key to the Toon’s come back was Shelvi’s appearance from the bench. He change tactic to stretch Everton’s defence with well-aimed long forward passes.
If we deploy such a tactic we do not have a Rondón to receive forward missiles, a combination of Antonio and Arnautovic may well prove most suitable. Hernandez could again provide a bench option.
A further concern of Toffees fans is their over reliance on Richarlison. Everton manager Silva is clearly a fan from his time at Watford. Having reunited with Richarlison at Everton he has, according to Blues fans, built his team around him.
Toffees fans concern is that if an opposition team can stifle Richarlison then Everton struggle to pose an alternative threat.
This seems a clear indication that West Ham should pay special attention to Richarlison, possibly doubling up on occasion to frustrate any ability for him to dominate play.
Other concerns are that, if Everton play 3 at the back, it is possible to frustrate their wing backs with a high press and dominate possession in their half.
Regardless of the outcome at Goodison, West Ham should expect Everton to provide a tough test. We will have to be on our mettle, and for once, start as well as finish strongly.
Finally it is with some sorrow I must announce this is the last Blind Hammer column. Sadly it seems that unless you despise the Board and detest the new Stadium you are not really welcome here. I am afraid the relentless weekly negativity which greets my volunteeer blogs has eventually worn me down. I suspect many will simply say good riddance. However I want to place on record my great appreciation for those who have encouraged me with their comments and above all, Iain Dale who has positively supported me throughout. Not many football clubs will have websites which would encourage, welcome and facilitate the contributions of a blind supporter. For this I will always be grateful to West Ham Till I Die.
NOTE FROM IAIN: I am incredibly sad to see that David has effectively been bullied off the site. Having got rid of S J Chandos, now some commenters will no doubt take some satisfaction from this turn of events as well. This site can only exist if people write write for it and are treated with respect. To be honest, maybe it’s time to close down West Ham Till I Die. I shall mull over these events and then come to a decision as to what to do.