West Ham vs. Everton: 6 Things We Learned
Everton produced a stunning late comeback, twice clawing themselves back from behind to earn a memorable 3-2 victory away at West Ham.
In a poor first half, especially for the visitors, Ravel Morrison provided the Hammers with an opening goal, after his shot took a fortuitous deflection off Phil Jagielka.
Some presumably harsh words from Roberto Martinez ensured Everton emerged far more energised after the break. They eventually drew level on the hour mark, thanks to a viscous free-kick from Leighton Baines, and pressed for an advantage.
With the Toffees in the ascendancy, Mark Noble's 76th-minute penalty halted their momentum and restored the host's lead—although his second yellow card received moments later swung the game back in Everton's direction.
From the resulting free-kick, Baines dispatched his second class strike of the game, before a fearless late header from Romelu Lukaku—which promptly knocked him unconscious—sent the away support into hysteria.
Here's a few Everton-related talking points to emerge from this dramatic contest.
Two Different Evertons
There's no escaping the fact that Everton's first-half showing was as laboured and as sloppy as it's been under their new manager—something that cannot be glossed over in the aftermath.
Martinez cut an increasingly exasperated figure on the sidelines as his players failed to find any early form of fluidity in their opponent's half.
Despite over 60 percent possession, the Toffees managed just one, paltry shot in 45 minutes, against a side conceding an average of 15 shots per game this season. They also looked uncharacteristically fallible at the back and deservedly trailed at the interval.
However, Martinez deserves substantial credit for the subsequent turnaround, coaxing a remarkable second-half performance out of his side. He clearly drew a reaction from his new squad, which will encourage supporters and augurs well for his long-term prospects.
Suddenly his side were slick with their passing, intelligent in their movement and far more penetrative in the final third. Making sure they start like that against Newcastle is Martinez's next task.
New, Decisive Depth
While Baines' individual magic will rightly take the plaudits, Martinez's substitutions made the key difference in this game.
Lukaku and James McCarthy both emerged at half-time and were central to their side's sudden rush of momentum.
McCarthy formed a better understanding with Gareth Barry and increased his side's tempo, while Lukaku looked simply imperious in the final third. He made an especially large impact, grabbing the winner, and drastically augmented the Toffees' threat with his imposing physique.
Both merit starts next week, but this squad depth is something Everton have been unfamiliar with for several seasons and proved decisive in this game.
Along with Lukaku and McCarthy, Joel Robles, John Heitinga, Bryan Oviedo, Gerard Deulofeu and John Stones provided formidable options on the bench. And with Darron Gibson, Tony Hibbert, Arouna Kone, Steven Pienaar and Antolin Alcaraz among those currently injured, there is considerable competition just to make Everton's squad this season.
For a side that made the fewest substitutions last year, this is a hugely refreshing change. It allows Martinez additional flexibility and room to manoeuvre, with the potential to influence and alter games late on.
Leighton Baines Shows His Class
With two typically clinical free-kicks, Leighton Baines showed exactly why Everton refused to entertain summer bids for his services.
Aside from being one of the Premier League's most accomplished defenders, as he proved against Chelsea, yet again he showed himself to be Everton's talisman when needed.
For all the belief Lukaku's arrival brought, and all the heavy pressure that followed the Belgian's introduction, the Toffees still needed two moments of magic from their influential left-back to truly turn the tide.
If the first free-kick was good, the second was sublime and showed David Moyes exactly why those £10 million bids were scoffed at.
Rare Day Off for Phil Jagielka
These recaps will always aim to bring a balanced perspective, and one person far from his best in this game was Phil Jagielka.
Everton's skipper was unfortunate to divert West Ham's opener in, but he was unusually tentative and hesitant throughout this game.
He's started the season in commanding fashion but was brutally exposed positionally, as well as for pace, and should have cleared the danger before West Ham's penalty.
Everton's new attack-focused style relies heavily on their centre-backs excelling in one-on-one situations. They must continually dominate their opponent throughout the game with any below-par return likely to prove costly to their side.
For the Toffees to win with their captain off his game is a credit to the rest of the side and an encouraging endorsement of the squad's mentality. Given Jagielka's recent form—a central figure in three previous clean sheets—this is almost certainly a minor blip.
West Ham Once Again a Favoured Destination
This dramatic win also maintains Everton's remarkable recent dominance over West Ham, who have just one win in 15 games against Martinez's side.
The Toffees' latest win sees them unbeaten in their past 12 clashes (in all competitions), winning an impressive eight of those games.
That record is actually even more formidable away from home, with six wins, just one draw and no defeats coming at Upton Park since 2007.
The result also ended a run of 11 Premier League games without an away win for the Toffees, which seemed an entirely unlikely conclusion for most of this game. The Hammers will presumably be glad to get Everton's annual visit out of the way early.
Unbeaten and into the Top 4
That's an encouraging statistic on its own. But to start so well while a new manager enforces a new style, and with three of those first five games away from home, becomes an even more impressive feat for the Toffees.
The table doesn't warrant much reading into at this stage, but Evertonians will be delighted to see their side temporarily back in the top four—a position they occupied for long periods of last season.
Such a rousing comeback, led by an exciting new presence up front, is sure to lead to a few spiralling expectations over the coming week.
Statistics via WhoScored?.