David Moyes has been nothing if not stubborn in his team selection for West Ham this season. His favoured 4-2-3-1 formation has been picked week after week despite poor performances. Against Everton, however, a team that has been deployed in a three-at-the-back setup themselves recently, Moyes showed he can change things up and brought out the 3-4-2-1 to great success.
The Back Three
Section by section let’s talk about who stood out in this formation. The players who did shine (and there weren’t any who didn’t to be honest), did so because they were played in positions that suited them the best.
On defence, Kurt Zouma returned and was a marauding maniac in the backline. The clean sheet can partly be attributed to him and his nine clearances. It was a welcome return to the starting XI for Zouma who was immense.
The elder statesman, Angelo Ogbonna, of the back three was simply perfect on the day. The standout stat would be the whopping 15 clearances from him that not only led the team but the Premier League for this match week.
Besides Zouma and Angelo Ogbonna, who was steady and solid, Nayef Aguerd was superb. The Moroccan made a huge tackle to deny a great opportunity and was a standout leader at the back with ten clearances, 5 tackles, and a passing percentage over 85%.
Call them wingbacks or just wide midfielders, Vladimir Coufal and Emerson played very well with less defensive responsibility and more of a defined role out on the perimeter of the attacking lanes. Coufal averages just a 6.52 rating from WhoScored.com in the Premier League this season, but against Everton, he managed a 7.03 performance and really dominated the middle third of the pitch on his flank.
Emerson on the left flank was dynamite in this match. The Italian wingback was a threat going forward and instigated the opening goal of the match on a recycled cross off of a broken corner kick play. Opposite Coufal, Emerson played in a similar fashion, disrupting the wide play and forcing Everton to play through the middle of the pitch where our best players play.
The central duo of Declan Rice and Lucas Paqueta was formidable in this game. Rice, who receded to a more defensive position in the attacking moves from the Hammers, played a more under-the-radar game as he used to. But, his defensive focus killed off the Toffee’s attacks.
Paqueta was as advertised in this match. Able to sit deeper and work harder in a greater area as a 6, Paqueta really showed his playmaking skills and vision against a vulnerable Everton side. With 90% passing accuracy, Paqueta was the link between offence and defence once the ball was won back in possession.
Technically the attack was split up into two wide players and a solo striker, but let’s discuss them as a unit. First up is the man at the double, Jarrod Bowen. The never-dropped right-winger has been pretty slow this season, but this match showed the old version of the player we knew last season and the year before.
Both goals came from Bowen being central and drifting in from his wide position. On the opener he circled back on the corner kick he delivered short and stayed in the play, picking up the flick on and poaching the first goal.
His second was even better! Michail Antonio followed the play out wide to the right sideline. Instead of sticking to his position and providing a passing outlet behind him, Bowen replaced Antonio centrally and banged in the second goal from a perfect cross.
Outside of the two goals, Bowen looked strong and threatening, the same as Antonio at striker and Said Benrahma at left-wing. Antonio was seemingly much more up for a fight in this game than he had been prior. His pressing was a little sharper and his intensity was visible, which has been lacking as of late.
Benrahma was more under the radar than he has been. He had the dribbles and worked well with Emerson on the flank who does offer more than Aaron Cresswell when trying to break down defenders. He wasn’t as effective as he has been, but Benrahma has been the best West Ham attacker this season and deserves the benefit of the doubt.
Of course, reeling all of this positivity back in is the fact that this match was against Everton, a team as bad as this awful West Ham team has been this season. Their manager hasn’t a clue, the players are directionless, and tactics are missing, and the hope is gone for the Toffees. So, should we not count this match then?
What you can do when you’re playing a poor team? Well, take the positives from the team and individual, count up the three points and move on. West Ham are far from not savouring every point they earn this year so don’t let the negativity pull from the big win this was for the club.