Saturday1st March 2014
Everton vs West Ham United
It's amazing what a few wins on the bounce can do do a side isn't it?
Only a matter of weeks ago, fans and pundits were predicting the end of Sam Allardyce's West Ham tenure - now they are campaigning for him to win manager of the month.
Football is all about the now, and small margins.
Last time we came up against Everton, we fell to a last gasp 3-2 defeat, thanks to two top class Leighton Baines free kicks, a Mark Noble red card, and a real display of bravery from Romelu Lukaku. Small margins.
Lukaku is back this weekend (typically), but, in my opinion, he isn't the main threat that Everton pose. For me, that accolade goes to Lukaku's compatriot Kevin Mirallas.
The Belgian winger has been in glittering form for the Toffees this season, having either created or scored 10 goals in the league so far. Mirallas has created a massive 51 chances for his team mates this season, proving what a consistent attacking force he can be.
Mirallas has featured in every Premier League game under Roberto Martinez this season, with the majority of his appearances coming off the right wing. Although the Belgian can play on both flanks, he tends to stay wider when on the right, often displaying his crossing ability.
49% (25) of the chances Mirallas has created this season have come from the right flank, and 4 of his 5 assists have come when playing in that position. The image below shows most prolific creative performance this season, against Hull City.
The winger created six chances against Hull, with five of those coming on the right of the penalty box.
Mirallas creative record has improved on last season, when he created 43 chances and managed just three assists in his 27 league appearances. And his record this season could have improved even further.
The winger has been guilty of wastefulness and being a bit of a ball hog on occasion this season - often going for glory instead of picking out an easy pass for a team mate. In the recent game against Norwich, Mirallas may have bagged a goal, but he only hit the target with one of his six attempts, as displayed below.
But it's just that attacking intent that makes him such a dangerous opponent to face. Mirallas has helped himself to five goals this season, with three of those coming from significant range.
If West Ham are to get anything out of this game, we will need to keep the unpredictable Belgian quiet.
How to Stop Everton
At Goodison Park this season, Everton have only lost one league game - against Sunderland when they lost Tim Howard to an early red card.
So how exactly do you stop Everton from beating you?
Well, only the traditional 'big' teams have managed to come away with even a point from Goodison in the Premier League, with the exceptions of Sunderland and West Bromwich Albion.
The West Brom game (0-0, back in August) is probably the best example of how West Ham can gain something on Saturday afternoon. Everton had 62% of the possession that day, but failed to trouble the score sheet.
Then West Brom manager Steve Clarke set his side up with the intention of stifling Robert Martinez possession based game. West Brom sat deep, and compacted the midfielder. This meant the Toffees spent the majority of the game passing the ball around at arms length of the Baggies penalty area.
The image below shows West Brom's average positions from that game. As you can see, Claudio Yacob (#5) sat deep in between the centre backs to provide additional protection to the back four. On top of this, Youssuf Mulumbu (#21), James Morrison (#7), Markus Rosenberg (#8) and Shane Long (#9) all played very centrally, meaning Everton's central midfielders had less time to pick out passes for their forward players.
The result of the Baggies approach was that Everton struggled to create chances. The image below shows that the Toffees failed to get the ball into the danger area to punish West Brom.
It seems to me, that West Ham's best chance of a result is to keep doing what we've been doing. Everton will have most of the ball - but we're used to that now. Biding our time and defending patiently and resolutely will be our most likely means of securing points this weekend.
Up until yesterday I wasn't sure who could be considered Everton's weakest link. All of their players have performed very well this season, and their home record has been fantastic. However, with the news that Phil Jagielka is out injured, the obvious weak link in the chain is his replacement.
Either youngster John Stones, or Paraguayan Alvaro Alcaraz will step in for the England defender to partner Sylvain Distin, and neither defender has anything like the quality of Jagielka.
It might seem a touch harsh on Stones to call him a weak link, particularly as the former Barnsley defender has won 57% of his attempted tackles, and 67% of his headed duels. However, Stones has only racked up 10 Premier League appearances since his move from the Yorkshire club.
This inexperience could lead to mistakes, and with the likes of Kevin Nolan, Carlton Cole and Andy Carroll likely to come up against him if he comes into the side, Stones will be a clearly vulnerable member of the Everton side.
However, West Ham fans should be hoping that former Wigan defender Alcaraz is the man to step into the side. Alcaraz followed Martinez from Wigan in the summer, and has been a poor acquisition to date.
Injuries have restricted him to just 3 league appearances, and when he has featured he has looked far from assured. The image below shows Alcaraz's duels this season. He has completed just 43% of his tackles, and has a very poor aerial success rate, winning just 3 of his 12 duels.
Should Andy Carroll return to the side tomorrow, he will be licking his lips at the prospect of coming up against either Stones of Alcaraz in the place of Jagielka.
For me, Carroll must play. His presence could allow us to unsettle an already unfamiliar centre back pairing, and could allow us the opportunity to get an early goal.
When Everton get into their flow, and they will, West Ham will need to stay compact and resolute. And try and keep the ball away from Mirallas.
Head to Head
50% Head to Head Win % 28%
64 Won 36
27 Drawn 27
36 Lost 64
218 Goals Scored 148
148 Goals Conceded 218
W L W L W L Last 6 L D W W W W
9 Goals Scored 9
8 Goals Conceded 4
L W W W W W Home/Away Form L L L W D W
13 Goals Scored 5
4 Goals Conceded 13
Form Player (excl. GK)
(Last 6 League)
James Tomkins - Kevin Mirallas
5 Appearances 6
450 Minutes Played 555
178 Sum Squawka Performance Score 196
36 Average Squawka Performance Rating 33
73 Passes Attempted 157
64 Completed 140
88% Success Rate 89%
0 Chances Created 15
0 Assists 0
3 Attempts on Goal 12
1 On Target 4
0 Goals 3
0 Take Ons Attempted 19
0 Successful Take Ons 11
0% Success Rate 58%
11 Tackles Made 6
6 Successful Tackles 4
55% Success Rate 67%
8 Interceptions 0
50 Clearances 2
4 Blocks 0
12 Defensive Actions Per Game 0
19 Aerial Duels 7
12 Won 0
63% Success Rate 0%
Leading to a Goal
21 September 2013
1-0 Ravel Morrison 31'
1-1 Leighton Baines 62'
2-1 Mark Noble 77'
2-2 Leighton Baines 83'
2-3 Romelu Lukaku 85'
4-2-3-1 Starting Formation 4-2-3-1
Tim Howard - Jussi Jääskeläinen
Seamus Coleman - Joey O'Brien
Phil Jagielka - James Collins
Sylvain Distin - Winston Reid
Leighton Baines - Rǎzvan Raţ
(52') Leon Osman - Mark Noble
Gareth Barry - Ravel Morrison
(45') Steven Naismith - Mohamed Diamé
Ross Barkley - Kevin Nolan (80')
Kevin Mirallas - Matt Jarvis (72')
(45') Nikica Jelavic - Modibo Maïga (63)
Joel Robles - Adrián
John Heitenga - George McCartney
(52') Bryan Oviedo - James Tomkins
John Stones - Jack Collison
(45') James McCarthy - Ricardo Vâz Te (72')
Gerard Deulofeu - Matthew Taylor (80')
(45') Romelu Lukaku - Mladen Petrić (63')
Everton: Antolin Alcaraz, Bryan Oviedo, Darron Bigson, Arouna Koné, Lacina Traore
West Ham United: Joey O'Brien, Ricardo Vâz Te, Marco Borriello
West Ham United: n/a
Opposition Last Time Out (League)
Goals Scored: 0
Goals Conceded: 1
Starting Formation: 4-2-3-1
Seamus Coleman Phil Jagielka Sylvain Distin Leighton Baines
James McCarthy Gareth Barry
Kevin Mirallas (75') Leon Osman (63') Steven Pienaar (80')
Aiden McGeady (80')
Gerard Deulofeu (75')
Ross Barkley (63')
Best Player: Sylvain Distin
Squawka Rating: 23
Worst Player: Ross Barkley
Squawka Rating: -22
Top 5's (Min 5 Apps)
Romelu Lukaku 9 - 7 Kevin Nolan
Seamus Coleman 5 - 6 Carlton Cole
Kevin Mirallas 5 - 3 Joe Cole
Leighton Baines 3 - 3 Ravel Morrison*
Gareth Barry 3 - 3 Mohamed Diamé
Romelu Lukaku 5 - 5 Kevin Nolan
Kevin Mirallas 5 - 3 Andy Carroll
James McCarthy 3 - 3 Matt Jarvis
Gareth Barry 3 - 2 Mohamed Diamé
Leon Osman 3 - 2 Stewart Downing
John Stones 90% - 83% Mark Noble
Leon Osman 88% - 82% Stewart Downing
Leighton Baines 87% - 81% Jack Collison
Seamus Coleman 87% - 80% Joe Cole
James McCarthy 86% - 79% Joey O'Brien
Chances Created per game
Kevin Mirallas 2 - 1.9 Stewart Downing
Steven Pienaar 1.4 - 1.6 Mark Noble
James McCarthy 1.3 - 1.1 Matt Jarvis
Leighton Baines 1.3 - 1 Kevin Nolan
Gareth Barry 1.2 - 0.6 Mohamed Diamé
Successful Dribbles per game
Ross Barkley 2.5 - 1.9 Mohamed Diamé
Seamus Coleman 1.9 - 1.2 Mark Noble
Kevin Mirallas 1.5 - 0.9 Stewart Downing
Leighton Baines 1.4 - 0.8 Guy Demel
Gerard Deulofeu 1.4 - 0.5 Joe Cole
Tackles per game
James McCarthy 3.4 - 2.8 Mark Noble
Bryan Oviedo 3.2 - 2.4 Mohamed Diamé
Gareth Barry 3 - 2.2 James Collins
Leighton Baines 2.9 - 1.9 Kevin Nolan
Seamus Coleman 2.2 - 1.8 Matthew Taylor
Aerial Duels Won per game
Romelu Lukaku 2.9 - 4.1 James Tomkins
Phil Jagielka 2.8 - 3.5 James Collins
Sylvain Distin 2.7 - 2.6 Carlton Cole
Gareth Barry 1.3 - 2.5 Winston Reid
Steven Naismith 1.3 - 1.8 George McCartney
Roberto Martinez - Sam Allardyce
51.6% Current Club Win % 41.6%
16 Won 52
9 Drawn 32
6 Lost 41
39.0% Managerial Career Win % 40%
130 Won 346
93 Drawn 231
110 Lost 288
3 Clubs Managed 7
1 League Titles 2
1 Cup Wins 0
Swansea City First Managerial Role Preston North End
24/02/2007 Start Date 30/09/1992
7y 5d Experience 21y 151d