Everton kept themselves within reach of the leading pack in the Premier League with a 2-0 win against West Ham.
Romelu Lukaku kept up his prolific record of scoring in every game he’s played in against The Hammers, netting with a simple header from Yannick Bolasie’s cross.
The Belgian then turned provider with 14 minutes remaining, picking out Ross Barkley who scored his second of the season with a low finish.
The victory leaves The Toffees with 18 points from 10 games, just two points behind fourth placed Tottenham.
Lukaku keeping up with club legends
If there are two fixtures every bookmaker dreads in the Premier League calendar, it must be Everton vs West Ham. Such is Lukaku’s prolific strike rate against the Londoners; he’s now bagged in every game against West Ham while playing in a blue shirt (nine in nine).
The Belgian has certainly scored more spectacular goals -his header from inside the six yard box with Adrian missing won’t go down as a memorable one- but Evertonian’s won’t care too much. As long as he keeps on scoring, Lukaku will cement his place among some of the great Everton marksman.
He is the fastest to reach 50 league goals (113 games) since legend Bob Latchford in 1977 (112). More importantly in the here and now, Lukaku’s contribution in front of goal accounts for 67% of Everton’s goals this season: scoring 7 and notching 3 assists. Once again the Belgian has demonstrated their are few strikers more prolific in the league; a talent Everton can’t afford to be without.
Bolasie & Lukaku are Premier League’s best
Another game, another goal dreamt up and delivered by the Premier League’s most potent partnership.
Bolasie has now assisted four goals for Lukaku, the most prolific strike duo in the league and Everton’s main source of attack. Gerard Deulofeu and Lukaku enjoyed a fruitful partnership last season, and while it’s been disappointing that the Spaniard has so far failed to grasp his chance under Ronald Koeman, the Dutchman will be delighted that Everton’s two most expensive transfers ever have started life together with a bang.
Barkley lets his feet do the talking
A lot has been said about Ross Barkley over the last few weeks, from both national and local media as well as the terraces.
While some of the criticisms have been just -Barkley has certainly fallen short of his capabilities- he’s been cast as an easy target among both fans and media, jumping on the “another-young-England-flop” bandwagon.
But Evertonians know more than any what the Wavetree-born midfielder can do when he’s at his best, and against West Ham the scouser really turned it on. The effort was there from start to finish and he showed just how effective he can be when he keeps things simple.
Getting his head up in the 76th minute, he showed vision and execution picking out Lukaku. What will please Koeman most though was his desire to support the lone striker, receiving the return at the back post to score his second of the season. While all those around him have been talking him down, Barkley kept his cool and let his feet do the talking.
Blues must be quicker out the blocks
The second half was a delight to behold for Blues, the home side taking control with some excellent football played too. But Koeman’s Everton still bear the mark of a Jekyll & Hyde side.
Of course, a team can rarely control a game from start to finish; there will always be spells when the opposition enjoy the better football, but Everton have been slow out of the blocks on a number of occasions this season (see: West Brom, Middlesbrough, Burnley, among others).
A West Ham XI with a more composed striker would have stormed into the lead, such was Everton’s initial sloppiness. But after a few shaky moments involving Joel Robles, Ramiro Funes Mori and the usually flawless Idrissa Gueye, The Toffees found their gear and should have gone in at half-time a goal up, but for an incredible one-hand save from Adrian. Though it should be said, against better opposition Everton won’t always be able to rely on a Koeman half-time kick-up-the-arse to save them.
Long way to live up to Kendall – but Koeman has made good start
It’s been a good start to life as Everton manager for Koeman. Not only had he made the joint best start in the Goodison Park hot-seat (15 points after eight games), the Dutchman has now gone unbeaten on home soil in the league, a feat only managed by two before him in the Premier League.
Whose company does he now keep? Not the most illustrious. Roberto Martinez and Mike Walker will not be remembered too fondly by Evertonians, but they too made Goodison a fortress. Not that it helped them in the end.
Let’s hope that in years to come, Koeman’s name is remembered alongside the more distinguished Everton managers, like Howard Kendall who was remembered superbly in the fourth minute by an eruption of applause. The Toffees’ most successful manager passed away this time last year and Goodison was adorned with touching tributes and banners.