It’s finally happened; West Ham United have won their first Premier League game of the 2018/19 season. Having lost their all of their first four league matches it was important that the Hammers got something in today’s face off with Everton and they delivered in style. They silenced the Goodison Park crowd, with two goals from Andriy Yarmolenko and one from Marko Arnautovic earning a win despite Gylfi Sigurdsson’s header, as the match finished 3-1 to the visitors.
Manuel Pellegrini had time to work with his squad during the international break. He came into this match with a completely new approach, making six changes from the side that lost against Wolverhampton Wanderers and a change of shape with Mark Noble, Declan Rice and Pedro Obiang in midfield.
One of the men brought into the starting line up was Yarmolenko, who was making his first league start for the club. It was the Ukrainian winger who opened the deadlock in the 11th minute. With Everton’s full backs out of position and their centre backs stretched Obiang played the ball in behind for Arnautovic to run onto. Jordan Pickford was covering the Austrian’s view of the goal, so he unselfishly squared the ball to Yarmolenko who placed it into the net.
It was also Yarmolenko who doubled West Ham’s lead in the 31st minute, though this time it was all about his technical ability. He received the ball from Mark Noble who nipped in to meet a poor pass out from Pickford. Yarmolenko fronted up the Everton defence with it at his feet. Lucas Digne and Kurt Zouma made the mistake of showing him inwards from the right flank. He obliged and cut inside the pair, opening up a bit of space for himself. The Ukrainian then unleashed a shot with his favoured left foot which curled into the top corner.
The Hammers were looking confident after going 2-0 up, but were given a scare just 30 seconds before half time. Everton managed to work some space in West Ham’s half and played the ball to Jonjoe Kenny on the right flank. The young Englishman crossed it into the box, where Gylfi Sigurdsson got to the ball ahead of Fabian Balbuena and powered his header into the top corner, giving Lukasz Fabianski no chance. The Iceland international’s goal meant the sides went into the break with West Ham 2-1 up.
Having set up the game’s opener, Arnautovic scored a goal of his own in the 61st minute to give his side a bit of breathing space. He played a one-two with Obiang, the Spaniard then played a perfectly waited pass which the Austrian latched onto and then finished well with a first time shot that went under Pickford.
Everton did have a few chances towards the end of the match, but they were unable to make the most of them, with Cenk Tosun sending the best of their opportunities way over the bar. The final whistle secured West Ham’s first league win of the season, with the scoreline at 3-1.
What is even more satisfying than the result for the Hammers is the performance that earned it. Every player showed desire and quality in abundance, with the likes of Issa Diop, Rice, Yarmolenko and Arnautovic all putting in superb performances.
The result is also important for the mentality within the club though, as it lifts the Hammers off the bottom of the table and into 16th place. West Ham now have a big test coming up, as they face Chelsea at home but will be hoping to take the confidence from this match and get a result against their London rivals.
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