The Soccer Desk

Baines, Everton Cruise by West Ham

Lukaku

It wasn’t the result West Ham were looking for at home this past Saturday, as Everton came into the Boleyn Ground coming off a win against Chelsea.  They would leave victors, and winners of two in a row, but not before starting things off with a rocky first 45.  Much like the Toffees of last season, Roberto Martinez’s squad had to come from behind to win this one, which at the end of the day, wasn’t much of a problem for the mighty Blues.

First Half:

This really seems to be Everton’s MO this season; they start games off strong, but somehow end up giving up the opening goal, followed by either a win or a draw.  When they actually play poorly, it’s disastrous.  While it may not exactly be the best way of going about playing football, for Moyes and now Martinez, it seems for the most part to get the job done.  As if on cue, the Hammers scored the first goal of the match off on unfortunate deflection that Tim Howard could do nothing about.  Morrison’s initial shot was a beauty and would have most likely beat Howard anyway, getting all the credit for the goal.

Almost immediately, much like they always seem to do, the Toffees found a sense of urgency once they saw themselves losing the match.  Kevin Mirrallas and Ross Barkley especially came to life, but nothing there was nothing to show for it.  Barkley, who is a huge threat from distance, couldn’t put his shots on target.  Although the effort was there, Everton would go into the locker rooms trailing by a goal.

Second Half:

It was all Toffees in the second half, with West Ham unable to catch their breath.  With Everton laying down a siege on the Hammers end of the field, they started to get sloppy.  With Ross Barkley making a terrific run on net, James Collin would bring him down right outside the box, earning himself a spot in the officials book and giving the Blues a free kick in dangerous territory.  From there, it was trademark Leighton Baines, who sailed his chance over the wall and into the back of the net, bringing this one back to even.

Leighton Baines tees up his shot...

Leighton Baines tees up his shot…

Baines would do it again in the 83rd when Everton was awarded another free kick after yet another foul on Barkley.  West Ham captain Mark Noble, who had been shown a yellow earlier in the match, would be shown his second, resulting in his sending off.  From almost the same position, Baines would put away his second free kick attempt in a row, this time bouncing off the bar and into the top left corner of the net.  With under seven minutes to go and a man advantage, Everton didn’t let up as they looked for a third goal to put the Hammers away.

With newcomer Romelu Lukaku already making all of his six foot presence known in the match, the 20 year old forward, who joined Everton on a season long loan from Chelsea, picked up the pace even more.  His hard work would be awarded just two minutes after Baines’ equalizer. Kevin Mirallas would center a ball, which found Lukaku’s head, beating West Ham’s keeper for the late go ahead goal.  Unfortunately, Lukaku paid the price for his goal after bumping heads in mid-air with Joey O’Brien.

Both men were on the ground for some time, with O’Brien having to have his head glued shut.  Luckily, both players were able to continue, though Lukaku would later say in an interview that he had no recollection of scoring the goal.  Taking into account the injuries, goals, free kicks and sending offs, seven minutes of stoppage time were added on to the match.  It wasn’t much of a challenge for the Blues, as some terrific clock killing via short corners and a bunch of passes back to Tim Howard finally saw the ref blow the final whistle for Everton’s second win in a row.

Match Notes:

Publicly sticking behind one of your players is nice and all, but Nikica Jelavic has served his purpose at the Merseyside club.  Romelu Lukaku proved that on Saturday.  His goal against West Ham as a substitute all but confirmed him as a starter next weekend.  The last time Jelavic scored in a Premier League match?  You have to go all the way back to March in a win over Man City.  He’s gun shy and doesn’t really fit at all with Martinez’s style of play.  Lukaku on the other hand is young and driven, exactly what a manager wants in an attacking style of play.

Ross Barkley is the future of Everton.  While he may not have tallied a goal against the Hammers, he showed once again that he wasn’t afraid to shoot.  The one thing the the 19 year old has to remember is to control his shots.  Barkley has a knack for getting himself an open shot, but sometimes the youngster shoots without centering.  If he can take the extra couple of seconds to control his shot, he’ll score more goals like the one he did to open the season.

Next Match:

Everton will come back to Goodison Park for a one match home stand Next Monday the 30th when they take on Newcastle United.  The Blues will also see action this Tuesday when they take on Fulham at Craven Cottage for a Capital One League Cup match.  West Ham meanwhile stays at home as they take on Cardiff City this Saturday.

 

photos courtesy of evertonfc.com and the Associated Press