West Ham United 1-1 Everton
WEST HAM UNITED remain dangerously close to the Premier League dropzone after playing out a dull bore-draw with Everton at the London Stadium.
Goalkeeper, Darren Randolph, was handed a start after returning to the London Stadium from Middlesbrough, while David Moyes recalled Pablo Fornals in attack, perhaps mindful of a lack of creativity in that particular department during the defeat at Sheffield United a week previous.
That setback at Bramall Lane had offered the Hammers chief a realistic outlook of where his struggling side were in terms of progress. Nevertheless, the Scotsman offered an honest assessment ahead of facing his former club: “It’s very difficult to jump from our league position to suddenly go sixth,” he explained.
“It’s a journey you have to go on, and you have to have a level of patience in that journey. round sixth, seventh, where you’re competing for European spots, that needs to be where we look to get to, and I don’t think you can do that right away. I hope we can, but I think it takes a little bit of time to get there.”
A pre-match protest from fans towards the clubs board, coupled with indifferent form and a precarious league position mounted to a subdued atmosphere around the London Stadium. A deflected effort from Robert Snodgrass did little to stir the masses, while a slow, mundane build-up from Everton did little to assist the spectacle to ignite.
Sebastien Haller nodded Mark Noble’s centre the wrong side of an upright, while Pablo Zabaleta’s close-range attempt was bundled behind by Fabian Delph as the home side stepped up the tempo. Meanwhile, the crowd, albeit sarcastically following the events at Bramall Lane, called for the intervention of VAR after Snodgrass had been denied an opener by an assistant’s flag.
England keeper, Jordan Pickford, used his feet to good effect to thwart the marauding Haller, while Theo Walcott was unable to provide a decisive finish to Lucas Digne’s toil as Everton finally offered a threat of their own shortly after the half-hour mark.
Noble, right-footed, curled wide after cutting in from the left, but five minutes before the interval, West Ham made the breakthrough. Issa Diop arrived unchallenged to send the perfect glancing header beyond Pickford and into the corner of the net.
But the Hammers lead lasted just three minutes. Dominic Calvert-Lewin appeared to get the final touch after Lucas Digne’s flag-kick had been helped on its way by and Mason Holgate.
Pickford’s acrobatics ensured the Toffees reached the interval on terms by somehow diverting Fornals powerful header away from the target.
The scruffy nature of the game continued. Moise Kean, Calvert-Lewin and Tom Davies all passed up reasonable opportunities as Everton started the second period a little brighter. Meanwhile, Pickford clung on desperately to Haller’s header as the game – scrappily – continued to uncomfortably flounder.
A lack of conviction and quality was evident in both camps, with neither sides seemingly capable of keeping possession or creating a spark. Hammers substitute, Albian Ajeti, was a little lucky to see out the action – VAR, in this case, viewing nothing wrong after the Swiss striker came together with Toffees defender, Mason Holgate.
Davies’s saw his fierce stoppage-time strike rebuffed, but in truth, neither side deserved more than a share of the spoils from an otherwise lacklustre encounter.
West Ham United return to Premier League action on Wednesday, January 22 when they take on Leicester City at the King Power Stadium (7:30pm).
West Ham United: Darren Randolph, Pablo Zabaleta, Issa Diop, Anglo Ogbonna, Aaron Creswell, Robert Snodgrass, Mark Noble (Capt), Declan Rice, Pablo Fornals (Arthur Masuaku 60’), Manuel Lanzini (Albian Ajeti 84’), Sebastien Haller Subs not used: Winston Reid, Fabian Balbuena, Goncalo Cardoso, David Martin (GK), Jeremy Ngakia
Booked: Pablo Zabaleta (foul)
Goals: Issa Diop 40’
Everton: Jordan Pickford (GK), Mason Holgate, Fabian Delph, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Theo Walcott (Djibril Sidibe 57’), Lucas Digne, Yerry Mina, Bernard, Seamus Coleman (Capt), Tom Davies, Moise Kean (Oumar Niasse 74’) Subs not used: Maarten Stekelenburg (GK), Leighton Baines, Morgan Schneiderlin, Lewis Gibson, Anthony Gordon
Goals: Dominic Calvert-Lewin 43’
Referee: Andre Marriner
Assistants: Simon Long and Eddie Smart
Fourth Official: Stephen Martin
Reaction to follow…