Matchwinner DCL Keeps Everton European Hopes Alive

The away wins keep coming, 11 of them and counting now following this success at West Ham United, the most Everton have compiled in one season in the Premier League era.

They last won 11 games away from Goodison  Park in 1984/85.

We all know what happened then.

The outcome of this season is anybody’s guess and that is down to this result, earned courtesy of a resilient, organised display and a 16th Premier League goal of the season for Dominic Calvert-Lewin on his 100th start in the competition.

West Ham had 11 attempts but not one on target, the result of an excellent defensive effort from back to front from Carlo Ancelotti’s team.

The sound of the final whistle prompted the spent Calvert-Lewin to collapse to the floor.

He’d run his legs off. There were terrific performances at the back from Ben Godfrey, who claimed his second Everton assist, and Michael Keane.

The combative, wily Allan was magnificent in midfield.

West Ham struck the post after half-time but Everton did likewise through substitute Joshua King during a lively finale.

Time and again, just when Everton’s European hopes appear to be dangling by a thread, they regain a grip.

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02:13

DCL ON QUALITIES THAT GOT EVERTON VITAL VICTORY

Match-winner discusses importance of Blues' 1-0 win at West Ham.


There are four games remaining, starting at Aston Villa on Thursday, and three points separate manager Ancelotti’s side from fifth position.

Calvert-Lewin celebrated his Everton landmark in clinical style, netting the game’s only goal with a pinpoint finish.

Godfrey claimed the assist. The defender, occupying that hybrid position between centre-half and right-back Ancelotti likes to employ on occasion, carried the ball forwards from halfway.

Encouraged by the peculiar reluctance of any West Ham bodies to stop him, Godfrey kept going, waiting until the time was right to spring Calvert-Lewin behind Craig Dawson.

From there, it was all about Calvert-Lewin, who confidently shrugged off Dawson – the centre-half had dropped deep in the knowledge his opponent would relish open space – to rasp unerringly into Lukas Fabianski’s right corner.

Neither Fabianski in West Ham’s goal, nor Everton counterpart Jordan Pickford, has been particularly involved until that point.

Both teams picked their way into promising positions but were ultimately kept at arm’s length by a pair of sound defences.

Everton were especially organised and disciplined at the back.

Godfrey joined the recalled pair of Yerry Mina and Keane in an imposing three-man defence when West Ham went forward.

In possession, Godfrey became a right-back, freeing Seamus Coleman to push deep into the hosts’ half.

Allan, meanwhile, repeatedly snapped the supply line between West Ham’s midfield and strikers.

The Brazilian, progressively regaining fitness as he stitches together games following injury, was a factor going forwards, too.

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04:38

ANCELOTTI: WHY WEST HAM WIN WAS SO IMPORTANT

Everton manager praises defensive display and team's attitude as European bid is reignited.


There were a few of the dribbles, which are an indication of Allan at the top of his game, and a ball dropped over the top of Issa Diop for Richarlison, whose cross-shot was smuggled behind by the recovering defender.

Richarlison inched closer 10 minutes before half-time.

Everton went route one, Pickford launching a goalkick towards Calvert-Lewin.

The Everton centre-forward was dropping deep on occasion to create room behind him and in this instance it worked a treat.

Richarlison read the flick and advanced for a strike that was beaten out by Fabianski.

Everton’s initial threat was provided by set-pieces, a free-kick whipped in by Gylfi Sigurdsson immediately followed the three successive corners, all managed with varying degrees of confidence by West Ham – the giant Tomas Soucek doing the bulk of the defending.

Richarlison was body-checked by Diop closed enough to goal for Sigurdsson to take aim with the dead ball after 27 minutes.

The Icelander’s eye was in too, his strike destined for Fabianski’s top-right corner before the keeper took off to push the ball round the post.

West Ham really did struggle to play on the floor through the bank of blue shirts.

There was an episode six minutes after half-time when the Hammers kept possession well enough, passing at pace, too, but couldn't make any notable progress.

The sight of Calvert-Lewin leading the defensive effort on the edge of his own ‘D’ would have exasperated David Moyes’ players.

Michail Antonio had been first to penetrate those lines with a 14th-mnute pass for Vladimir Coufal.

The right-back’s cross was magnificent, out of Pickford’s reach but marginally to high for Antonio, continuing his run into the box.

Lucas Digne cleared in the nick of time two minutes later, with Jesse Lingard going at full-pelt to try to convert Antonio’s low ball across the box.

West Ham’s other first-half opportunities, other than a whipped Lingard delivery from left to right that flew wide, landed for Said Benrahma.

The Algerian was picked out at the far post by Lingard, the pass going right to left this time, but shot wide, via a deflection off Keane’s knee.

The next chance was much clearer, Pablo Fornals finding space to deliver from the right, Benrahma unattended at the far post but unable to control a header that flew over.

Tom Davies, back in Everton's team following two matches on the bench, was in combative mood.

One challenge left Benrahma in a heap but the midfielder seemed desperately unfortunate to be punished after winning the ball.

He crucially got a leg in the way of a Fornals’ volley after half-time – following Diop’s vital intervention as Calvert-Lewin arrived at the back post wanting to meet a cross from Digne.

For all of Everton’s solid individual and collective defending, they needed the woodwork to lend them a hand after 61 minutes,

Fornals ushered in the overlapping Coufal, who took on the strike first time and watched on forlorn as it rebounded off the inside of the far post.

The Czech’s mood would have changed in an instant had Jarrod Bowen – on for the stricken Manuel Lanzini two minutes before the break – made any sort of clean connection on the rebound.

Bowen’s touch was hurried and awkward and directed straight into Pickford’s gloves.

On 76 minutes, Everton had a chance to all but wrap this up.

Allan was superb to win the ball in his own box, progressing to release the tireless Calvert-Lewin.

He moved infield, using Richarlison’s run beyond West Ham’s backline as a decoy, before striking a terrific ball for Coleman, eating up the ground.

Lingard, however, was on the Everton captain’s tail and did enough to stop Coleman getting a clean attempt on goal.

King hit the post within 60 seconds of coming on after jumping to meet a delivery from Calvert-Lewin, who did well to retain possession in the box before standing up his cross.

Soucek went into the book for a lunge on Richarlison as West Ham grew frustrated.

Fellow Czech Coufal switched to the left following a problem for Aaron Cresswell.

So it was that a late chance for the defender fell on his unfavoured foot and was thrashed wildly off target.

There was more defending for Everton to do but it never reached heart-in-your-mouth territory.

West Ham were limited to sending in balls from deep or wide and, invariably, they were met by a defensive head.

Everton have quietly compiled a useful sequence of results, losing only once in six games.

The next challenge is to convert this victory into more of the same.


Godfrey and Calvert-Lewin Combine For London Stadium Victory

Ben Godfrey spoke recently about the one aspect of a power-packed game he was yet to show Evertonians.

For all the speed and tackling and anticipation we’ve seen from Godfrey, an ability to pass tellingly from the back, he insisted, remained under wraps.

The secret is out following the ball Godfrey fed into the path of Dominic Calvert-Lewin to put Everton in front on 24 minutes.

There seemed little danger for the home team when Michael Keane passed to Godfrey on the halfway line.

And, perhaps, that absence of an obvious threat was West Ham’s downfall, as they retreated to allow Godfrey free passage into attacking territory.

There was a pass available to Richarlison, 10 yards ahead.

But Godfrey spied Calvert-Lewin peeling away from Craig Dawson, setting up a foot race of which there was only ever going to be one winner.

Especially once Godfrey applied the perfect weight to his ball delivered on centre-back Dawson’s outside.

Calvert-Lewin never looked like missing, striding into the box to angle a firm, low finish across Lukasz Fabianski.

It was the striker’s second goal in as many games and fifth in 10 Premier League starts.

This during a period when his goals are perceived to have dried up.

That is an impression formed in the context of the player’s best scoring campaign in an Everton shirt.

He has 16 league goals this term, 21 across the competitions.

This was the 100th time Calvert-Lewin’s begun a Premier League game for Everton and he marked it in an increasingly familiar fashion.

 

Ancelotti's Game Plan Wins The Day

Carlo Ancelotti employed the flexible system he introduced on his first day in the job back on Boxing Day 2019.

On that occasion, a 1-0 victory over Burnley, Seamus Coleman played as one of three centre-backs.

Here, just as against Liverpool at Anfield three months ago, the Irishman adopted the role of full-back-cum-wing-back.

Ben Godfrey was originally the centre-half charged with springing to the right of a back four when Everton had possession – that task taken by Mason Holgate following a second-half injury to Yerry Mina, meaning Everton were playing with the same back five as in that derby win.

The formation relies on the tactical intelligence of Coleman and Lucas Digne in the wide positions preventing Everton from going wholly on the defensive.

Coleman in particular bounded forwards, pinning back the lively pair of Said Benrahma and Pablo Fornals.

The visiting captain didn’t alter his approach, even with Everton one up and time ticking away.

He was in the box to collect a pass from Dominic Calvert-Lewin following a swift counter with 11 minutes remaining.

Allan and Tom Davies in midfield were sharp and energetic, winning tackles, stealing possession and invariably positive on the ball.

West Ham, chasing the game following Calvert-Lewin’s strike, inevitably made most of the running after half-time.

Their tally of shots reached double figures and it was testament to Everton’s concentration and structure that not one was sent on target.

Manager Ancelotti’s side have three straight away Premier League clean sheets – the first time Everton have managed such a run since August and September 2015.

What’s more, it always appeared as if it would take something special from West Ham, or an individual Everton lapse, to concede here.

It was the same in the matches at Brighton & Hove Albion and Arsenal.

All eyes now on how Ancelotti goes about trying to defeat Aston Villa on Thursday after Everton came unstuck against the same opponents eight days ago.


Everton Breathe Again

An unprecedented 11th away Premier League win in an individual campaign kept Everton’s season alive.

For the second straight match on the road, Carlo Ancelotti took his team to London knowing defeat would do serious damage to European qualification hopes.

And, just as they did at Arsenal a fortnight ago, Everton ground out the necessary victory.

It’s testing on the nerves, this tightrope act, but Ancelotti’s side is showing a welcome capacity to collect itself following a stumble.

The next step is to limit those wobbles which, since the turn of the year, have occurred almost exclusively at Goodison Park.

It is indicative of the disparity between home and away results that only Newcastle United, taking advantage of two stodgy displays, have managed a Premier League double over Everton this term.

Here, we had the latest example of how Everton appear more compact and dangerous on the road.

This was a victory over a side that won at Goodison on New Year’s Day and moved Everton within three points of their much-touted opponents.

A similar task awaits on Thursday when Everton visit Aston Villa aiming to swiftly atone for a home defeat by the same opponents last week.

For all the talk of missed opportunities to climb the table, Everton have consistently recovered ground by finding ways to win when the heat was on.

Ben Godfrey pointed out this week that ifs, buts and maybes are misleading, anyway.

It would be easy for any team, said Godfrey, to reflect on where points were surrendered and picture themselves top of the table in an alternative universe.

In the real world, Everton have lost only once in six Premier League games, winning two of those matches.

Convert just one of the three draws into a victory and the position would look much healthier.

But, as Everton centre-half Godfrey maintained, such wishful thinking is futile.

Adding to this latest capital success – a fifth this term – with three points at Aston Villa is the only thought occupying Everton minds tonight.