After a really impressive start to the season, Friday night presented Everton with a chance to win their fifth consecutive Premier League game and climb to second in the table.
However, West Ham have also enjoyed a successful start to the campaign and came into this game off the back of a South Coast stalemate on Tuesday night.
The build up to the match was not ideal from a West Ham perspective. Injury struck first choice goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski in the warm up but replacement Darren Randolph was kept relatively untroubled throughout the game.
The Irish international was first called into action to keep out the first half’s only shot on target right before the break but that Bernard effort was the closest either side came to a breakthrough in the first half.
Both sides looked strong defensively but had little to offer in attack and the two managers may well have felt the game was there for the taking.
That was reflected 10 minutes into the second half with the introductions of James Rodriguez and Michail Antonio and it didn’t take long before the game started to open up.
Defences remained on top for the duration of the game, despite all the creative players on show for both sides.
Holgate and Mina left few gaps between them and Dawson and Ogbonna were dominant in the air. As the game wore on, you felt it would take either a moment of world-class quality of a slice of luck if either side were to break the deadlock.
The postponement of the Toffees’ clash with Manchester City handed Everton a valuable period of rest in this hectic period.
David Moyes was sure to bring this up in his pre-game interview but his side showed no signs of fatigue in this match despite far less recovery time than their opponents.
In the end, it was a stroke of good fortune that put West Ham ahead as a deflection on Aaron Cresswell’s strike sent the ball straight into the path of Tomas Soucek in front of goal.
The Czech Player of the Year was on hand to score his fifth goal of the season and to give the Hammers all three points late on.
West Ham’s performance would’ve pleased David Moyes greatly, especially given that it came against the side he managed for eleven successful years.
“We did a good professional job tonight and got our rewards for it”.
“The level of fitness and professionalism to be in the best condition is great credit to them [the players] and my staff”.
A perfect way to start the new calendar year for the Hammers who now join a large group of sides locked on 26 points.
Carlo Ancelotti would’ve felt quite different after the game, having watched his side squander a great chance to go second.
“We are disappointed and frustrated but we missed one point from this game and we will try to catch it in the next game”.
The FA Cup awaits both Everton and West Ham next weekend with Rotherham visiting Goodison Park and the Hammers travelling to Stockport County.