Whether Calvert-Lewin no longer damaged his toe, or Richarlison’s knee was fine, when the two inevitably jumped out of their seats, stretching for the series of crosses that were sent, as they watched this match.
As the balls were whipped and arrowed into West Ham’s box, and the balls were cut or dropped into inviting areas, they certainly mimicked the way they would have directed the ball or indicated how they would have been. in the right place at the right time.
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They might have even started partying, sure someone, anyone, was going to convert one of them and those who were sitting next to Richarlison in Goodison Park were even offered a scan. of what he would have done.
As the team’s two top scorers, their desire to get back to the squad will only intensify after seeing this.
Hopefully they are fit to rack up more misery at Watford next weekend.
You see, there was very little between an Everton side, limited by injuries from key players, and a good West Ham United side, which now have impressive team depth.
In the end, Angelo Ogbonna’s contested goal midway through the second half separated the teams, but if Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison had been fit then you must feel that would have been another story. .
It may only have resulted in a draw yet, but the crosses delivered by, yes you guessed it, Andros Townsend and Demarai Gray have not been cast aside while, at the very least, we should have been.
Look, that wasn’t the story of a huge list of wasted opportunities (other than swing and the lack of Alex Iwobi), but it was the story of an exhausted Everton matching a strong side. assembled by David Moyes but just lacking a decisive advantage, in the clutch of clear chances they created.
Basically, the Blues shaped enough to have taken something from this match.
Everton had 15 attempts on goal, West Ham had one more. The Blues tested Lukasz Fabianski twice as the visitors forced three saves (including two superb) from Jordan Pickford and scored with their other effort on target.
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It was a close match. It was disappointing, of course, but not sort of a step backwards as, for the most part, there wasn’t much wrong with Everton’s performance today.
Admittedly, there wasn’t much different in the way they approached much of this encouraging start to life under Benitez, and especially in this race without Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison.
It was just that their absence was felt more keenly here than it had been.
Of course, a sloppy start invited West Ham to make an early breakthrough, but Rafa Benitez’s side have grown in the game and the decisive goal defense will be on the manager’s mind.
But at the time of Ogbonna’s goal, the Blues were in the lead. The fact that the award of the corner kick that led to the opener was questionable only adds to the feeling of frustration.
Jordan Pickford remonstrated with referee Stuart Atwell at the time and, again, after the game was over. Benitez, too, was unhappy to see the officials give a corner.
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Still, it was given, Everton lost their focus and were punished. This is perhaps the biggest takeaway from this game.
Yes, if Calvert-Lewin and / or Richarlison had been available, the good work of Townsend and Gray would have been rewarded, but Benitez and the team know that too.
Maybe what Benitez is going to hammer home to his players this week is the need to stay focused at all times.
On either side of the goal, Everton had defended well enough, but the difference today came in that split second they didn’t.
A close match should have, really, brought a point to the Blues, but in the end offered them nothing.
“My idea is one game at a time,” Benitez said on Friday.
“If we continue with the same attitude – today has been a great training session – and the same mentality, we will be better and face a lot of teams. We will lose games for sure, but we can do well and continue in the same way for a long time. “
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Aside from the wild 10-minute spell at Villa Park, Everton have yet to reach extremes this season and that is a testament to what Benitez has brought.
The loss here is disappointing, but Goodison’s loyalists will have seen enough onscreen, even if enough was missing at the end, to know that the players have been and continue to be very well trained and knowing their job.
Benitez already has a firm hand on this team and although he loses his unbeaten run at home, you can’t imagine he won’t be too alarmed by one particular aspect of this loss.
Yes, the lack of focus for the corner will be at the top of the list, and maybe followed by the sloppy first 15 minutes, but he knows just as well any kind of difference Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison are sure to have. done here.
He won’t need to tell Iwobi what he did wrong when he took his eyes off Gray’s cross, as he was about to shoot seven yards, as much as he won’t need him. remember that the team remains thin.
Benitez only used one substitute today, knocking Anthony Gordon off the bench shortly after West Ham scored.
The team’s limits are clear but, for the most part, they have continued to make the most of a less than ideal situation.
Frustratingly, Ogbonna reacted the fastest to a contested corner and made a difference.
Benitez is hoping the cavalry arrives as soon as possible, so make sure the good margins favor Everton.