Hammers Finally Break Down Stubborn Toffees

West Ham United picked up their fourth away win of the season by starting 2021 with a 1-0 victory against Everton at Goodison Park on New Year’s Day to give David Moyes his first victory against his former club.

Łukasz Fabiański was due to start in goal but the Pole had unfortunately picked up an injury in the warm-up, meaning Darren Randolph filled in.

Moyes made a number of other changes including a return to the defence for Vladimír Coufal who was rested for the match at Southampton three days earlier. Ryan Fredericks did not make the squad due to the defender showing symptoms of Coronavirus, meaning Craig Dawson retained his place after the goalless draw against the Saints with both Fabián Balbuena and Issa Diop amongst the substitutes.

Saïd Benrahma and Jarrod Bowen came into the starting line-up, while Andriy Yarmolenko and Manuel Lanzini also dropped to the bench.

One might have thought that Carlo Ancelotti’s men would have been the fresher of the two teams having not played since Boxing Day but it seemed that when the game got underway, neither team was able to get a real foothold on proceedings although the Hammers did play with more intent.

Early on, Sébastien Haller could have opened the scoring but the Frenchman failed to get a powerful enough header to Bowen’s corner. The East Londoners were definitely orchestrating matters and had another chance to go in front but Aaron Cresswell’s cross didn’t quite reach Bowen.

Moyes thought he would have to make another early change, as Dawson fell to ground unchallenged. Balbuena was ready to enter the fray but following lengthy treatment, the Watford loanee was able to continue.

Ancelotti’s side could have gone into the break in front against the run of play but fortunately for the visitors, Randolph was able to prevent Bernard’s effort from beating him.

The Irons had already picked up impressive wins against Leicester City and Leeds United this season and when referee Kevin Friend blew the whistle for the break, they still harboured hopes of adding Goodison Park to that list.

The visitors were again on top in the second-half although it was still a tight affair. Just before they were awarded a freekick for a foul on Coufal by Toffees’ defender Ben Godfrey, Moyes made his first change as Michail Antonio was brought on in place of Haller.

The set-piece was delivered into the box by Cresswell but he was denied by a great save from Jordan Pickford in the home side’s goal.

There was then action at both ends with Everton skipper Seamus Coleman giving Randolph work to do but to be fair to the Republic of Ireland goalkeeper, it was far too easy for him while a superb ball from Bowen picked out Pablo Fornals. Unfortunately though, the Spaniard was unable to get a telling touch with his head and the chance was gone.

With the deadlock still to be broken, West Ham made two more changes, as Lanzini and Yarmolenko replaced Bowen and Fornals.

Three points from as many games this week wouldn’t have been a bad effort for the Hammers but with four minutes remaining, they took full advantage. Cresswell tried his luck from outside the area but the effort took a deflection off Yerry Mina. Tomáš Souček was there to pick up the pieces and beat Pickford. The visitors had certainly made up for their Carabao Cup defeat here back in September.

West Ham now have a period of time off before they are back in action. Attention turns to the third round of the FA Cup as they face a trip to Edgeley Park to take on Stockport County on 11 January.