The trick for Everton was finding the edge to go with their organisation. This was a resilient away performance, the kind to evoke memories of Sean Dyche’s best days at Burnley, but it might have gone unrewarded without a finisher in the team. West Ham, who are in danger of drifting into troubled waters after one win in six league matches, might have stolen something had Dominic Calvert‑Lewin not punished their lethargy with a clinical winning goal.
This was proof that Everton, who moved five points clear of the bottom three with this deserved win, are a different proposition when Calvert-Lewin is fit and confident. The England international has had a horrible time with injuries but his importance shone brightly when he drove in his fourth goal of the season. Calvert-Lewin occupied his markers, linked the play and finished superbly when his chance arrived in the 51st minute; he did for Everton what Michail Antonio failed to provide for West Ham.
Not that ruthlessness was the deciding factor. West Ham’s first shot on target arriving deep into added time summed up a lack of bite, but there was also casual defending and an approach in possession that stifled their creative talents, Mohammed Kudus and Lucas Paquetá.
The sense is of a team in need of a manager capable of implementing an attacking philosophy. Unambitious football is the accusation aimed at David Moyes and, after a decent start to the season, the Scot will be concerned about his side’s dip. With his contract up at the end of the season, this lifelessness will do little for his hopes of earning a new deal.
“Probably not as good as we liked,” Moyes said. “Everton defended the box really well. That’s the first game we’ve not scored a goal in this season. We might have had more of the ball today but that doesn’t matter. We weren’t able to open it up.”
It had not been an easy week for Everton, who mourned the death of their chairman, Bill Kenwright, and heard suggestions they could be docked 12 points if found guilty of breaching financial fair play rules. However, their focus was unaffected. With their back four sitting back, the visitors clearly knew how to play West Ham.
“It’s befitting to win after the sad loss of the chairman,” Dyche said. “It’s a very good performance. Dom’s a very good player and has had a tough couple of years. We’re improving from last season. There’s clear signs of that.”
The London Stadium grew frustrated as West Ham huffed and puffed. Before kick-off there was excitement at a bolder selection from Moyes, Tomas Soucek making way for Kudus to play as the No 10, but the optimism quickly faded. Jordan Pickford did not make a first-half save.
Dominating possession did not suit West Ham, who prefer to counterattack. Everton were only opened up when Paquetá flickered into view. The moment of the half was undoubtedly when Paquetá lobbed Everton’s right-back, Nathan Patterson, and crossed for Jarrod Bowen to scuff wide.
It was flat. There were a few flourishes from Kudus, but West Ham were reliant on individual improvisation. Vitalii Mykolenko shackled Bowen, and Antonio never stretched James Tarkowski and Jarrad Branthwaite.
Everton grew in belief, particularly with James Garner, Abdoulaye Doucouré and Amadou Onana overpowering Edson Álvarez and James Ward- Prowse in midfield. They should have led when Paquetá lost possession, only for Jack Harrison to shoot selfishly at Alphonse Areola.
West Ham, who will be without the suspended Paquetá and Álvarez against Brentford this Saturday, needed more intensity. Part of the problem was that they were without Emerson Palmieri, whose adventurousness from left-back gives the side more dynamism. Aaron Cresswell was nowhere near as effective.
At least Cresswell offered a threat over set pieces, delivering one for Bowen to head over at the start of the second half. Yet West Ham were edgy. That was evident in the defensive miscommunication that saw Kurt Zouma ignore a shout from Areola when the goalkeeper came to claim a cross.
West Ham were also loose. They suffered because of Antonio repeatedly losing out to Branthwaite, a theme that continued when the young centre-back dispossessed the forward before Everton’s goal.
There was no resistance as Branthwaite strode forward and found Calvert-Lewin. An exchange of passes with Harrison followed while West Ham stood and watched. Then Nayef Aguerd and Zouma were beaten by a beautiful turn from Calvert-Lewin, who drilled in a wonderful low shot from 18 yards. That was pretty much that. Everton chased a second, Doucouré and Dwight McNeil drawing fine saves from Areola, and held out with ease. With Paquetá short of conviction and Saïd Benrahma ineffective after replacing Antonio, West Ham remained insipid. Bowen had a chance and Pickford saved Benrahma’s volley in stoppage time but an equaliser was never on the cards. These are worrying times for Moyes.