West Ham 0-0 Everton
The two teams in this game underwent something of a role reversal with West Ham looking like the side that was fifth in the table pushing for Europe.
The dominance of the home side was demonstrated by the fact that reinstalled keeper Adrian did not have one serious save to make in the whole game.
West Ham manager Slaven Bilic was delighted with the performance his side put in contesting every ball from start to finish. “I was really pleased with the way we played, how solid we were, how composed we were,” said Bilic.
The managers tactics were also spot on playing three centre backs and two wing backs with the restored Havard Nordtveit, having his best game in a claret and blue shirt, providing a defensive shield as the defending midfielder.
Indeed, it was a day when some of the much criticised signings of last summer came good. In addition to Nordtvelt, left back Arthur Masuaku was outstanding at left back, sound in defense and regularly providing the extra attacking option.
It was the first game in the last ten between these sides that Everton striker Romelu Lukaku did not score.
Bilic praised his own players for effectively cutting off service to the big striker from Ross Barkley and Kevin Mirallas. “They did an amazing job on Lukaku,” said Bilic.
Things though could have gone very differently, though, when early on a throw from Edimilson Fernandez back to Adrian caught the keeper short, with the ball almost squirming into the path of Lukaku on the six yard line.
From then on though it was all West Ham, with Manuel Lanzini at the centre of most of the creative ideas. In one delightful exchange of passes with Andre Ayew, the Argentinian clipped over a rabona style cross that was pushed away.
Lanzini also saw a rasping shot in mid-half saved at full stretch by Everton keeper Marten Stekelenburg. The other main attempt was a strike from 20 yards from Cheikhou Kouyate, which just crept wide.
The pressure continued in the second half, with a Lanzini pile driver felling defender Phil Jagielka, as he threw himself in the way.
Everton manager Ronald Koeman was unhappy, describing the performance of his side as being “far away from the level in every aspect of football.”