After the 2-1 victory over rivals Tottenham last weekend, there is no doubt that David Moyes’ West Ham side are challenging for Europe this season.
Currently, the Hammers sit in fourth place with 45 points from 25 Premier League matches. West Ham have become difficult to beat this season, the playing style, types of players and league position have led many to draw a comparison with Moyes’ Everton teams of the past.
The Scot was in charge at Goodison Park from 2002 – 2013. He left to take over the Manchester United job after the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson. We all know how it went for him at Old Trafford but he did deserve the job due to great work at Everton. Prior to his first full season, Everton finished in the bottom half of the table for six years. Moyes then guided them to nine ‘top eight’ finishes in eleven seasons.
There have been many comparisons to Everton under Moyes and the current West Ham team. But how similar really are they?
Firstly, there is a common comparison between Tomas Soucek and Marouane Fellaini. Both are goalscoring central midfielders and big aerial threats. However, they are used slightly differently. During Fellaini most prolific Premier League season in 2012-13, he scored 13 goals in all competitions but was playing as an attacking midfielder. Soucek is often sitting deeper alongside Declan Rice to allow for a more creative technical player in the No.10 role.
West Ham have the likes of Jesse Lingard, Pablo Fornals, Said Benrahma and Manuel Lanzini in that area. Also, with Jarrod Bowen and Andriy Yarmolenko mainly competing for a spot on the right. When playing a 4-2-3-1 (like Moyes did regularly at Everton) one of the first four mentioned will play on the left-wing. It’s noticeable that all are right footers and naturally cut in.
This is similar to Steven Pienaar at Everton. He was right-footed but played on the left. Moyes speaking to the Coaches Voice YouTube channel, called him a “false winger” as he played narrower than a conventional winger, frequently drifting inside.
Therefore, this created space on the left for Leighton Baines to come forward and overlap from left-back. Baines was a fantastic crosser and set piece taker regularly getting assists. We see the same in Aaron Cresswell, who is having a brilliant season and has registered six assists so far.
Elsewhere in the defence, Craig Dawson has been fantastic for the Hammers since coming into the side. Dawson can be compared to the centre-backs Moyes had in his early days at Goodison Park, David Weir and Alan Stubbs. Both weren’t the quickest, like Dawson, but were good “penalty box defenders”. The manager is implementing Dawson how he used Stubbs and Weir.
There was concern that if they came short with the striker they could get turned as the attacker runs in behind exposing their lack of pace.
"“I didn’t want them coming out of their slots or coming up the park too high. They were great in the box, they could defend, they could block, they read danger, they smelt danger but I didn’t want them getting caught on the half-way line.”Moyes on defenders."
This is how West Ham are getting the best out of Dawson. Focusing on his strength as a “penalty box defender.” If any of the opposition’s attackers do come short, Dawson will stay in his position, it will be the job of Rice and Soucek to pick them up. With Rice’s great defensive awareness, he thrives on doing this and has registered more interceptions than anyone else in the league this campaign with 49.
Lastly, this size of West Ham and Everton suits Moyes. Both aren’t the biggest in their city but have ambitions to break into the top six and compete in Europe. He can build a team that works for him and is given time to that unlike what happened at Manchester United. If he is able to deliver similar results for West Han as he did at Everton, Hammers fans will be more than happy.