The points were shared at the London Stadium as Everton came from behind to earn a point courtesy of a fine header from Dominic CalvertLewin, having conceded to a West Ham set piece, the defensive frailties of early in the season disappointingly reappearing.
With three victories from four Premier League games under Carlo Ancelotti, Everton made their second trip to the capital this season to take on a Hammers team under new management themselves, a certain David ‘knife to a gunfight’ Moyes.
The former Blues boss was taking charge of just his third game since returning to West Ham for a second stint and having been a spectator at Goodison last weekend, no doubt felt confident that he could win the battle of wits with The Don, after laughably suggesting this week that he ‘chose’ to return West Ham over re-joining Everton – really David, really?
And he knows his team needs to tighten up at the back and add more goals up front, an issue he addressed in his pre-match press conference when questioned about the poor return so far from Sebastien Haller. Moyes noted, “We do need to serve him more with crosses into the box. I’ve found him really easy to work with, I’ve enjoyed seeing his finishing, because he is a really good finisher. If I can give him more service, get more people around him, I think we can try and get a bit more out of him.”
For this game against his former employers, Moyes was without number one goalie Lukasz Fabianski and had fitness concerns over Felipe Anderson, Michail Antonio and Arthur Masuaku. Republic of Ireland goalie Darren Randolph, having rejoined West Ham from Middlesbrough, was expected to start in goal and duly did as Moyes named his starting eleven: Randolph, Zabaleta, Diop, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Snodgrass, Noble (c), Rice, Fornals, Lanzini and Haller.
In his press gathering, Ancelotti was asked about Cuco Martina and Oumar Niasse given they were both highlighted in Tuesday’s AGM as players Marcel Brands was looking to move out during the transfer window. Don Carlo advised, “they’re both doing well. Cuco was unable to train today but Oumar trained well and will be on the bench tomorrow at West Ham. We’ve had no offers for either of them, they are both focussed on the team and are no problem to me, I’m happy to work with them because they are professional and serious.”
Asked if going up against Everton would provide opposite number Davis Moyes more motivation, the Blues boss commented, “The motivation is there to try to improve West Ham’s position in the table, to try to do the best at his job. He has no extra motivation to play against Everton. He was here for a lot of years, he did really well at this club and everyone respects him.”
With changes to his starting line-up enforced through injuries, and looking for his first victory over David Moyes, Carlo Ancelotti submitted his team sheet listing thus: Pickford, Coleman (c), Mina, Holgate, Digne, Walcott, Davies, Delph, Bernard, Calvert-Lewin and Kean.
At a dry but cool London Stadium, our referee was Andre Marriner.
After a slow start, a poor back pass from Mina hurried Pickford into a clearance that gave the Hammers a corner that was comfortably cleared. The first effort on goal fell the way of the home side with Snodgrass curling a shot straight into the midriff of Pickford as West Ham appeared keen to push forward and pressure the Blues in the opening exchanges.
Everton were looking ponderous in trying to play out from the back, West Ham closing them down quickly and forcing them to go more directly, Delph playing longer balls over the top first for DCL and then less successfully looking for Digne. Kean on a break over ran the ball and his pass for DCL went astray. Walcott found Kean to set Digne up for a cross to the back post but it was too strong and West Ham cleared easily. At the other end Noble got free on the left to send a cross in for Haller but his header went wide of the target.
West Ham were looking the more lively, Haller feeding Lanzini to find Zabaleta getting forward, his shot deflected away for a corner from the right. Pickford came to Everton’s rescue in the 25th minute as Noble dispossessed Digne to find Haller and the England keeper stood firm to deny the shot aimed between his legs.
Davies, taking a pass from Delph, set Kean away into space on the right flank but his cross aimed for DCL was miles behind the Blues number nine and posed no threat to the West Ham defence. Good work from Bernard saw him win the ball to find Digne for a cross, but Randolph was quick off his line to prevent the ball reaching DCL.
Everton needed to tighten up in all areas, Noble, Rice and Snodgrass enjoying too much possession as a result of the Blues failing to retain the ball in midfield. Everton finally strung a few passes together, Bernard, Walcott, and Delph all involved before a cross from the left from Digne was just to high for DCL to reach Walcott but his effort was gathered easily by Randolph. West Ham then countered with Cresswell crossing again for Haller to win the header but fail to direct it on target.
A needless foul by Delph gave West Ham a free kick wide right that was swung in by Snodgrass and Diop met it to register West Ham’s first header goal of the season in off the far post in the 40th minute.
Stung by having fallen behind, Everton were level just before the interval as from a corner, Holgate headed on and Dominic Calvert-Lewin climbed magnificently to find the top corner with his header.
Everton made it to the break level thanks to Pickford turning away a Fornals header on a Zabaleta cross at the expense of a fourth West Ham corner.
From the managers perspectives, David Moyes will have been delighted with his sides effort and annoyed at having been pegged back, while Carlo Ancelotti was probably the exact opposite in being delighted to be level at the break, but furious with his sides lack of intensity, tempo and failure to control much possession particularly in midfield.
Half Time: 1-1
Eighteen-year old Anthony Gordon came on for his Premier League debut, replacing Bernard at the start of the second half in a tactical rather than injury forced change.
Walcott and DCL combined to force an early corner, a Digne inswinger that Ogbonna headed clear only for the Blues to regain and get forward to Walcott whose cross was palmed out to Gordon who, leaning back, ballooned over the bar. In a much brighter start to the second half than the first, Delph then found Walcott and his ball for DCL was deflected behind by Diop for another Blues corner that saw Davies head wide.
A good run by DCL saw his pass for Kean intercepted but the Blues were certainly much more aggressive in the early stages of the second half, good to see!!
Zabaleta getting forward won a corner off Gordon, Diop and Ogbonna lumbering forward but Pickford with a good punch cleared the area only for him to make a mess of the next ball lofted into the Everton area Holgate clearing the danger.
Carlo Ancelotti made a second change in the 57th minute, Djibril Sidibe replacing Theo Walcott and the Frenchman’s first involvement was a long ball for Kean that saw Diop concede a corner that Mina headed over the bar. West Ham’s first change saw Fornals withdrawn for Masuaku on the hour mark. There was more ace about the second half and a cross from Cresswell saw Haller head towards goal from twelve yards, Pickford gathering under the crossbar before falling down on the line to earn lame calls for a goal from the home fans.
Masuaku won a corner of Coleman as the home side tried to regain the advantage, the set piece from Cresswell easily picked off by Sidibe. Everton responded with Digne winning another corner off Zabaleta that again saw Mina win the header but his downward effort lacked the power and direction to trouble Randolph.
Excellent work from Holgate got the Blues going forward again eventually leading to a dummy from DCL that Kean didn’t read and West Ham quickly countered, with Pickford taking no risks in turning a deflected Snodgrass effort away for a corner. The game was now very evenly poised and looking like the next goal could be vital, and entering the final twenty minutes, Ancelotti prepared his final change. And on 74 minutes, Oumar Niasse replaced the somewhat disappointing Moise Kean.
Niasse into the right wing channel was fed by Sidibe, but his cross to the near post was far too easy for Randolph to deal with and set the home side going forward again. Gordon was somewhat lucky not to get a yellow card for clearly impeding Noble, Davies with a clearing header from the resulting free kick from Snodgrass. Digne then gave away a free kick on the Everton left, DCL this time with a clearing header.
Into the final ten minutes, and could either side find a winner? Holgate, having another solid game put in another fine tackle to stop Haller in his tracks as West Ham tried to get forward down their right flank.
Lanzini was withdrawn for Ajeti with six minutes of normal time remaining, ahead of an Everton attack that saw Niasse overplay the ball and the move break down. A good ball from Sidibe then saw Niasse lose control and concede a free kick as both sides began to strain for a winner in the closing stages. West Ham were coming on strong and Holgate went down off the ball following a backward movement of the head by Ajeti… VAR reviewed the incident and no card was shown.
Into four added minutes and the Blues got forward, a shot from Gordon blocked and the youngster then playing a wall with Niasse to try and feed the ball through to DCL in an exciting end to the game. Gordon was bodychecked by Zabaleta who saw the games first yellow card, giving the Blues a free kick in a dangerous position wide left that led to a Davies shot being deflected over for a late, late corner, that came to nothing and the spoils were shared.