David Hautzig's Match Report
I feel like Pacino in Godfather III. Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back. I don’t mean that literally. What I mean is that I was pretty comfortable just mailing in the rest of the season. Then results went our way in the earlier matches, making a ceremonial stay in seventh place possible with a win. Personally, I think seventh would be a poisoned chalice. We are nowhere near deep enough to compete in Europe, and there is zero chance the board would sanction the kind of money needed to add that depth. So when a nice, calm afternoon watching football before a family function tonight was the plan…..well…..yeah. In the end, doing laundry would have been more fun.
When Everton paid fifty million pounds for Richarlison, many eyebrows were raised. But the reality was that he found terrific form playing under Marco Silva at Watford, so perhaps he could do the same at Everton. In the fifth minute, the Brazilian made a run down the right and won a corner. Considering how mediocre West Ham have been all season on set pieces there was reason for concern. Those reasons were realized when Zouma went over a static Diop and headed the set piece into the corner of the net. Huddersfield exposed us on corners, and Everton continued the trend.
West Ham 0
Minutes later the Toffees won another corner when Obiang broke up another Everton. West Ham handled it, kind of, but it didn’t take long for Everton to roar forward ahead with one time supposed West Ham target Bernard cutting to his right in the box. His shot was blocked by Ogbonna, but the respite was short. Gueye won the visitors their third corner in the opening ten minutes when Ogbonna again was forced to put an attempted pass in the box behind the line.
It looked like a Premier League side against a League Two outfit as Fabianski was forced into so many saves inside of a minute it was hard to keep track. The third one came after a simple throw in by Everton turned into a cross by Richarlison that Fabianski had to dive out and punch away from Calvert-Lewin. Inside of fifteen minutes every aspect of West Ham was questionable. The choice of the starting eleven, the formation, the preparation. It was ugly.
Years ago, when football was new to American television, games were regularly interrupted by commercials. I thought we were over that. Nope. Someone at NBC pushed a button to show me a chicken basket from Dairy Queen. In fact, they were so impressed with this bit of poultry they showed the commercial twice.
When regularly scheduled programming returned I saw Lanzini have a chance at the top of the box after a pass from Zabaleta. He should have hit it right away. He didn’t, and the opportunity was squashed.
West Ham grew into a the match as the half carried on. Not by much. Metaphorically they moved up to League One. Arnautovic did his best to create a chance or two, but nothing that impressive. The only “victory” up until that point was that West Ham only trailed by one. By minute 33, however, even that victory was gone when Coleman broke down the right and centered the ball for Bernard streaking into the box and an easy tap in. Everton were better in every aspect, and West Ham looked completely out of their depth.
West Ham 0
West Ham finally had a shot in the 41st minute when Snodgrass tried a long range effort that rolled harmlessly wide. In the words of Forest Gump, that’s all I have to say about that.
West Ham finished the first half with two corners. The first one was cleared by Keane, the second by Richarlison. The boos rang out as the whistle blew.
West Ham 0
It was a virtual certainty that Pelle would make changes at halftime, and that’s exactly what he did. Perez and Obiang made way for Chicharito and Antonio. They were clearly attacking changes, and while he had to it also meant West Ham would be even more exposed to counter attacks.
In the 54th minute, Arnautovic tried to help out defensively but lost the ball under pressure from Coleman and conceded a corner. The home side dealt with it, only to have Keane win another one after his shot was deflected out. Ogbonna rose high enough to head that delivery away from danger. It was telling that West Ham’s best ten minute spell of the match was adjudged to be so because we weren’t utterly man handled. Small victories, I guess.
Everton would have made it three had it not been for a defensive header by Cresswell. Bernard completely fooled Lanzini on the left side of the West Ham eighteen yard box before putting a cross into the box. Richarlison attacked the ball and likely thought it was going to be another goal. Cresswell got to the ball right before Richarlison and nudged it away.
Everton had another opportunity to make it three in the 72nd minute when Sigurdsson fed Calvert-Lewin in the West Ham box. The striker cut to his left but his low shot went wide. Minutes later Keane rolled a through ball to him down the right, and he timed his run perfectly. However his drive went over the bar. Even without scoring, Calvert-Lewin was a handful all day long.
The final minutes of the match ticked away, with Everton closing out their first win in London in two years. West Ham didn’t create a single chance in the second half, and Everton should have added to their goal differential when Richarlison had a free header off a set piece that clanged off the bar. The away supporters were loud and raucous. They deserved to be.
I was spared the final few minutes when NBC again cut to commercials for a credit card website and a home gym machine.
West Ham 0
Some losses are attributed to bad days at the office. Others to questionable decisions by the referee. And some to plain bad luck. Today was none of them. The simple, unadulterated truth was that Everton were waaaaaay better than us. In every possible way. The win two weeks ago over now relegated Huddersfield showed that West Ham have too many weaknesses to think any match is a sure fire three points. So instead of dreams, even of the pipe variety, of Europe via seventh place, I think today told us that overall a top ten finish would be a better indication of where we can aspire to be.
The final whistle was a welcome relief.