West Ham hosted Everton for what was the second meeting of both these sides in 2019/20 Premier League Season. The last time these sides met back in October 2019, neither David Moyes or Carlo Ancelotti were present in the dugout, perhaps not even considered as future managers by their respective club board at that time.
It can be said both teams have a different identity since their present managers took over. Ancelotti has continued to change formations and personnel since the turn of the new year, although the manager’s results would be considered favourable. West Ham have turned over a new leaf since Moyes’ first game on New Year’s Day and have looked an improving side ever since.
The Hammers and the Toffees’ points share was equal to the score – 1-1.
No goals from open play, both teams found the target from set-pieces in the closing stages of the first half. Read the tactical analysis below, where we will share with you the tactics and key characteristics of both teams. The analysis goes deeper into the strengths and weaknesses of both teams and how they matched throughout the game.
West ham Utd: 4-4-2
Moyes made four changes to the side which fell to a 1-0 loss against Sheffield Utd last week. Łukasz Fabiański is deferred in place of new signing Darren Randolph in goal. The goal-scorer Issa Diop is introduced at centre-back in place of Fabián Balbuena, while Pablo Fornals and Robert Snodgrass replace Arthur Masuaku and Felipe Anderson at right and left-wing respectively.
Ancelotti also made four changes to his side which triumphed one week earlier against Brighton & Hove Albion. Micheal Keane and Djibril Sidibé take rest as Yerri Mina and Seamus Coleman are re-introduced at the back. Unusual exclusions to the Everton team-sheet in midfield and up front as the injured Gylfi Sigurðsson makes way for Fabian Delph in central-midfield, and Mosie Kean replaced Richarlison who also vacates through injury.
Everton’s build-up play
Changing to four players at the back in recent games has meant a slight change of approach to Everton’s build-up play. Aside from the later stage pf the game, the Toffee’s exercised a lot of patience in the build-up phases. In order to get success against West Ham’s 4-4-2 mid-block, Everton would offer movements in the defence and midfield units. Firstly the full-backs for Everton would advance high and wide. Secondly so not to be on the same vertical axis as the wingers, Bernard and Theo Walcott would drift into the half-spaces to offer a central overload. Lastly, one of the two central midfielders either Tom Davies or Delph would drop diagonally to one side of either centre-back to receive the ball in space and create an unorthodox passing opportunity that serves to beat the first line of defence and progress play into midfield.
In the above image, we see Davies the CM has dropped to the right of the centre-back Mina. Allowing Davies to receive a pass in space and subsequently pulling a West Ham striker out of position as he engages the press. This not only serves to pull the striker out of position but also creates a shift in the midfield whereby through the quick transference of possession to the other side Everton can progress.
Moments previous when Davies had possession on the right the ball is transferred across where CB Mason Holgate can make a pass that splits the midfield of West Ham. The ball is received by left-midfielder Bernard who occupies the half-space which allows Digne to advance higher up the field unmarked to receive a pass going into West Ham’s final third.
Another characteristic of the Everton build-up was having Mason Holgate, the comfortable ball-carrier step into midfield beyond the first line of pressure unmarked. The opportunity for the left-sided centre-back Holgate to do this was when play had just come from the right where West Ham had been more compact.
Everton done well to graduate play into the final third although for the most part considering the much-improved defence under David Moyes and the changing personnel in attack Everton were not as dangerous from open play although they did manage to accumulate an xG rating of 2.19.
Everton in the final third
Reserving two centre-backs as a precaution, Everton offered eight players to attacking phase. In a balanced shape this would mean two full-backs occupy the wide areas, allowing the wingers to come inside into the half-space while close-range passes and short-quick effective movements would happen between the central-midfielders and the strikers.
In the image above we see an example of this shape as CM Delph who is in possession look to play a line splitting pass for Kean to meet inside the West Ham box and develop a goal-scoring opportunity. Should pressure mount centrally, options to play wide become available.
Although they were unable to score from open play, Everton are showing a greater efficiency in the final third not to force crosses for penetrating passing from one side, rather to patiently play backwards from advanced positions, transfer play to the other side and create better goal scoring opportunities. In contrast to recent games, we are now seeing Everton’s wide players deliver crosses from inside the box, this shorter distance can be more difficult to defend and subsequently offers a much-improved chance of scoring. In the coming weeks, I would be interested to see the assist numbers of the Everton full-backs.
West Ham’s compact block
West Ham met Everton’s patient build-up play with an equally measured organisation and focus to defend in a compact block inside the Everton half. Honouring the 4-4-2 shape West Ham strikers aimed to disrupt their opponents progress with precision and intensity in their press.
In the above image, we see West Ham’s forwards move horizontally relative to the position of the ball while remaining in short distance to one another, this serves to block passing angles to the unoccupied central-midfielder which in this case is Everton’s, Delph. We also see the West Ham midfield remain horizontally compact and move quickly to deny Everton any success as they attempt to play passes forward and through their midfield block. The aims for this strategy is to win back possession in advanced positions and exploit the disorganised and stretched defence moments after possession is won to create success in front of goal.
Here we see as Everton develop their attack into West Ham’s final third, West Ham remains compact relative to the position of the ball. The key aspect of defending well is that teams must identify when a player from the attacking team is isolated and the ability to dribble into space is reduced, then you engage the press aggressively, preferably with overload if possible. In this case that is what West Ham had accomplished many times in this game. In the image above we see Walcott forced one direction from an initial pressure to then being walled in and denied any passing opportunities. Provided no fouls are conceded against, this then can be considered an effective method, and such for West Ham it was.
A lot of key moments in games often are determined as a result of how both teams react in transition. Moments after regaining possession and moments after losing possession. In this game, we saw two different approaches, particularly in attack. When Everton would transition to attack moments after winning possession, they seldom chose to counter-attack or give long-pass to a lone striker. Instead, Everton again would exercise patience and efficiency as they would opt to play backwards or horizontally to a free player who did not seem to advance or offer much threat going forward. Many times we would see possession regained by the Everton centre-backs who would look to build-up against an organized defence.
In the above image, CM Davies regains possession but has not forward option immediately available. Davies dribbles to change direction to wait for a central player to drift and become free for a pass before he is tackled. West Ham’s midfield doid well to create a narrow and effective block to deny Davies an opportunity to execute an attacking pass. Notice in the top right of the image, RB Coleman does not get level or more advanced than the position of the ball. This is only since Ancelotti reverted to a back-four, as when Everton played in a back-three the wing-backs were automatically available and in position to receive a forward pass to progress the attack. In this case and throughout this game Everton were resigned to safer back passes to gradually restart and re-build the attack.
Consider the above two images as stages in a transition, here we see West Ham’s CM Declan Rice is in a one versus one with Delph in midfield. Rice shields the ball, turns and when he regains his balance plays a long forward pass to Snodgrass who is just out of frame. In contrast to Everton, West Ham looked to play forward, early and exploit the disorganised defence of Everton. As one team is in the transition to attack, so is the other at the moment to the transition to defend.
West Ham repetitively done this well and were unlucky not to score from open play moments after they transitioned to attack. Everton CM’s Delph and Davies can be accused of not pressuring the man in possession well enough in these moments at times. Perhaps defending a free-kick with eleven players behind the ball inside West Ham’s half would be better than defending inside their own third with less players these moments were found occurring very frequently.
West Ham’s wide attacks
It was clear West Ham aimed to gt success from wide areas, the positioning of the wingers out of possession the, passing direction of the central players and the disciplined positioning of the two forwards Sébastien Haller and Manuel Lanzini to remain ineffective goal-scoring positions between the posts should a cross be delivered.
In the above image, Snodgrass delivers an in-swinging cross, as a left-footer from the left side. This serves to be dangerous as the momentum of the cross is still forward so strikers in the box can continue their run forward towards the goal to meet the cross. As well it is dangerous for the defending team as a defender you are meeting the cross while running towards your own goal. West Ham were unlucky not to score from open play with the volume of good crosses they got to deliver to the 6ft 3” Frenchman, Haller.
Another example, we see in the above two images, If a chance to progress or a crossing opportunity is denied West ham quickly switch the play to the other side, otherwise known as the weak-side. Here the oncoming full-back would have time and space to set himself and deliver a cross into the box for the waiting forwards to meet and hopefully direct a good attempt on goal. Again the discipline of the West Ham forwards to be positioned correctly to make a short sprint to meet a cross to connect with and direct on goal.
West Ham use Randolph’s range
West Ham’s goalkeeper Darren Randolph has a good range of distribution and West Ham sought to find full value in this from the majority of goal-kicks, restarts and deep free-kicks from their own half.
The deliberate and strategic movement played As such that, centre-forward Haller would run from a higher position to meet the flight of the ball and in doing so would bring one Everton centre-back with him. At such point, the wide midfielders of West Ham would sprint inside and encroach the vacated space where they hope to meet a flick header from their teammate to penetrate and create a goal-scoring opportunity.
In the image above, we see Haller contests an ariel ball with Everton’s Yerry Mina. On this occasion, mina is victorious in directing the ball back up the field however, it highlights the position of the West Ham midfielders as they anticipate the ball to be headed forward into a dangerous position. West Ham also found secondary success from this strategy as throw-ins and corner-kicks were won as a result of this long-direct approach.
The breakthrough goal of the game came from a set-piece and the reply also came from a set-piece. West Ham broke the deadlock first from a poorly contested free-kick only to then suffer the same fate in the closing stages of the first half. In this game in particular, either side could have claimed two or more goals from set-pieces. But for lack of perfection in execution, we may very nearly have had three or more goal by way or corners and free-kicks.
In the above two images, we see first the setup of the free-kick along with with the flight of the ball and then the execution by West Ham centre-back Diop. Snodgrass who stood over the free-kick delivered an excellent ball into a dangerous position at a perfect height for an attacker to direct on goal. Credit to the attacking team and the quality of delivery but the highlight seems to go the way of the very young attacking prodigy of Everton, Kean. The young Italian forward failed to get on the right side of the attacker when meeting the ball nor even offer enough pressure to the West Ham defender to imbalance him before connecting. Nonetheless, the cross was met and the ball was directed perfectly downwards onto the goalkeepers bottom right post to deflect in. Up until and after this point Everton seemed capable of dealing with set-pieces however this free-kick was executed superbly, and Everton needed to find a reply.
The corner-kick routine we see time and time again, the cross is delivered, the attacker moves forward to meet the flight of the ball at his highest point only to re-direct the ball downwards to the back post for an anticipating teammate to convert. Liverpool, Leicester City and Manchester City Ladies to name but a few have found success from this corner kick routine this season. Everton executed superbly, centre-back Holgate comes forward to make first contact with the ball and offers a slight change of direction of the ball with his touch where the oncoming Dominic Calvert-Lewin heads home cleanly with one touch. I expect Everton to get more success from the very same or similar corner kick routines on the remainder of this season.
Either side could have walked away with a win although we can spare a few line of ‘if’s and buts’. Assessing the data of the game, although the possession, attacks and shots statistics seem very balanced the most significant difference was in the xG. West Ham Utd amounted an xG of 1.39 while Everton’s chances reflected an xG rating of 2.19.
Although no manager changed their system through the game, certain tactical changes were made by way of personnel. For example, Theo Walcott made way for Sidibé in right-midfield to offer more of a threat in front of goal by delivering those signature threatening crosses into the box although perhaps too little too late along with too much of a challenge to contend with as the Toffee’s were kept at bay by the Hammers, it’s one point that goes towards each teams season total.
Up next it’s an away trip from David Moyes as West Ham travel to Leicester City where they will look to increase their short margin of one point from the relegation zone. Everton welcome Newcastle to Goodison Park next where Ancelotti’s side came away with three points very recently in a tightly contested affair. Be sure to check back in for a comprehensive analysis of both teams as we track the progress of the newly appointed managers.