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Everton vs. West Ham United: 6 Things We Learned

Matt CheethamCorrespondent IMay 12, 2013

Everton vs. West Ham United: 6 Things We Learned

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    Everton provided David Moyes with a perfect send-off before and after the final whistle, paying tribute to their manager's 11-year tenure in style.

    On the field a two-goal salvo from Kevin Mirallas secured a comfortable 2-0 win over West Ham, as the Toffees dominated their visitors and should have won by a far greater margin.

    Goodison Park then remained packed long after the action ended, as Evertonians stayed on to salute Moyes, along with his outgoing captain, Phil Neville, and a returning Tim Cahill.

    The trio then led the club's entire staff around the pitch in a lap of honour, as fans proceeded to show their own vocal and hugely passionate appreciation.

    On what was an emotional day for all connected to the club, here's a look at six talking points to emerge from the Toffees', and David Moyes', final game at Goodison Park this season.

An Attacking Feast for Moyes

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    To mark their manager's final home game, Everton served up an attacking feast, gushing forward in waves for the duration of the contest.

    They produced an especially rampant start, with a remarkable 89 percent possession over the first 10 minutes. Mirallas' first strike punctuated a deluge of early chances, as West Ham appeared visibly shaken at the fierce onslaught.

    By the final whistle, the 2-0 scoreline greatly masked the home side's overall dominance, with Jussi Jaaskelainen and James Collins both worthy contenders for the Man of the Match award.

    In all, the Toffees created 26 chances—their most this season—and also recorded 28 shots, their second-highest total behind the 31 shots registered away at Swansea.

    Individually, several players dazzled, with Mirallas, Seamus Coleman and Steven Pienaar particularly prominent going forward. The South African created eight chances on his own, the joint highest amount for an Everton player this season, equalling the eight created by Leighton Baines at Aston Villa.

    The performance was the most attacking display of football seen at Goodison Park this season, as the players gave everything to mark Moyes' final home game in style.

Defence Finish in Peak Form

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    Away from the emotional elements accompanying this game, in terms of pure performance, Everton's back four continued their impressive run of consistency.

    After an unconvincing start to the season, the Toffees recorded yet another clean-sheet—their seventh in nine games—fully erasing concerns surrounding their fragility from late last year.

    Physical strikers have often bullied Everton's defence this season, with 39 percent of their goals conceded from headers—a mammoth 11 percent more than any other team.

    Therefore, on paper at least, Andy Carroll should have given his opponents a rigorous examination, yet he was largely subdued aside from one golden chance. It was another cohesive, confident display from a unit that's significantly grown in stature over recent months.

    Having shipped 25 goals in their first 20 Premier League games, Moyes' side have now conceded just three goals in their last nine outings and only 13 in their 17 league games of 2013.

    If only this form could have coincided with the team's more prolific spells in front of goal, towards the start of the season.

A System to Build on

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    Aside from a brief flirtation with 3-4-3, Everton have generally kept to a familiar 4-4-1-1 system this season. However, within this there have been two variations to the Toffees style, depending entirely on the position of Marouane Fellaini.

    If the Belgian plays behind the striker, his side adopt an especially direct approach, as he's frequently targeted with a long ball.

    This was how Everton started the season and started it well, but it has become increasingly disjointed and almost predictable as the season's progressed.

    So much so, Moyes has moved Fellaini deeper, back into his preferred midfield role, allowing Everton to play with Mirallas, Pienaar and Leon Osman interchanging behind the striker.

    This enables the Toffees to play a more attractive brand of football, as was the case Sunday, where West Ham were carved open on countless occasions.

    The Toffees continually rushed their opponents—with sharp, incisive moves—and their attack looked as fluid and formidable as at any other stage this season. 

    There are certainly occasions when it would make sense to revert to a more direct approach, against specific set-ups, but for overall fluency, this system seems to have far more potential to succeed.

A Striker Still Needed

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    While Everton appeared resilient at the back and attacked with unwavering gusto, the absence of an in-form, natural goal-scorer was again all too evident, as has been the case for long periods of the season.

    Countless chances were spurned as just two of the Toffees' 28 shots nestled in Jaaskelainen's net.

    This will be a major issue for Everton's new manager to address, with Nikica Jelavic and Victor Anichebe unable to provide their team with enough consistency in the final third.

    In form, both players have a role to play at the club, but a lack of firepower up front is the major reason the club won't feature in Europe next season.

    Clearly a new striker will need to be brought in, but several players in other positions must also improve their composure in front of goal. Anichebe should have registered a goal in this game, but he wasn't the only one guilty of spurning some inviting openings.

Sixth Place but No Europe

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    Sunday's result ensured Everton will finish this season sixth in the Premier League, yet, unfortunately, they won't be achieving their initial target of returning to Europe.

    Wigan and Swansea's unexpected cup runs, as well as the form of the five teams above them mean Everton will once again miss out by one place. This has been the case four times during Moyes' tenure, to go alongside his four European campaigns.

    His side have already amassed 63 points, a total good enough for Europe in nine of the past 10 seasons, and are just two short of eclipsing Moyes' best points haul of 65 in 2007/08.

    Regardless of their final result at Chelsea, Everton will have also suffered defeat the fewest times in a league season since 1969/70, having only lost six times in the Premier League.

    In short, the Toffees can consider themselves desperately unlucky not to be playing in Europe next season. Given that points tally and sixth place before the season, many at Everton would have taken it, assuming it would have meant Europe, so it's hard to define the season as unsuccessful—certainly in the league.

    The major regret from this campaign will always be the 3-0 FA Cup quarterfinal loss against Wigan.

End of an Era

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    And so Everton and David Moyes go their separate ways.

    The atmosphere at Goodison Park was simply electric in this game, with supporters determined to give Moyes the rapturous send-off he deserved.

    Given the state of the club at the time of his appointment, lingering around the relegation zone, the Toffees now persistently finish between fifth and seventh in the table—a chunk of investment away from a Champions League push.

    From a veteran, weary squad, Everton now possess several Premier League stars, and, despite harbouring some severe financial concerns, are a well-run club in several departments.

    Thanks to their outgoing manager, whoever takes up the reigns at the Toffees will be taking charge of one of the league's best rosters with several well-laid foundations from which to build on.

    Moyes has undoubtedly made a huge contribution to the club, overseeing a generally exciting 11 years that will be remembered increasingly fondly over time. He moves on with Evertonians' respect and best wishes—aside from in two fixtures each season.

     

    Statistics via EPL Index and WhoScored? 

    Bleacher Report's Premier League coverage has been nominated in the 2012-13 EPLTalk awards. Cast your vote here.

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