90+1 min: Three added minutes for Everton to find something they’ve never really looked close to locating.
90 min: It was Soucek’s fifth goal of the season; not bad for a deep central midfielder. He is an incredibly impressive player even if he’s had better overall outings than this one.
89 min: Quickly changes sweeping assessment from “dullest stalemate ever” to “away performance masterclass from Moyes”.
Goal! Everton 0-1 West Ham (Soucek, 86)
I don’t believe it! No, really, I don’t believe it. We have had a goal here and probably a winner. Soucek does well initially to meet a lofted Yarmolenko ball and draw a parry from Pickford. The ball runs out to Cresswell 25 yards out, he strikes low and it pinballs off Mina right back into Soucek’s path. He sidefoots in from six yards and the Hammers are ahead at the death!
84 min: “I wish the offside rule was based on the position of the feet, not armpit hairs. That way timing a run to beat the offside trap would be feasible and easy to VAR. The current rules are just soul destroying,” writes James Wanstall.
I’ve received several like this! Authorities, take heed!
83 min: A Soucek pass out of play, after a breaking Lanzini had been forced to abort a run towards the area due to a lack of support, rather sums things up.
81 min: Another useful-looking free-kick chance for Everton on the left. Can someone make this count? There’ve been a few. James crosses … and West Ham head away, Ogbonna once more I think. Mina heads well wide when the ball comes back in.
79 min: Calvert-Lewin, who looks leggy at the moment, is replaced by Tosun.
78 min: Doucoure finds Coleman, who crosses dangerously from the byline, but the rock-solid Ogbonna nods it away. Davies is then booked for a scything foul on Antonio.
75 min: “I wish for a European Super League in 2021,” writes Luke Jones, and I’ll let him continue even though I’m starting to feel ill, as we all know the problems echo chambers can cause.
“The current system has so many problems! It produces too many boring games and predictable league results. The best players almost never meet each other on the field. There’s almost no room for great players to be loyal to anything but the ten or so perennial Champions League contenders. What if, for example, this season the big question was whether Ajax’s young squad could win a third ESL crown in a row?”
They probably wouldn’t be in it though.
74 min: Now West Ham roll the dice twice, with Bowen – the league’s most-subbed player, we are told – replaced along with Fornals. Lanzini and Yarmolenko arrive in their stead.
73 min: Bowen bundles Richarlison over on the left, which could cost his team as Everton have a dangerous set-piece. It goes just over Mina’s head and then Doucoure has a shot charged down.
69 min: Antonio barges Davies in the back. He lets you know he’s there – which is something Haller failed to do.
67 min: Ogbonna superbly defends two Everton corners in a row. Yes, we are seeing more intent after all these subs.
66 min: It *is* livening up a bit. Everton bring on Rodriguez and Gomes for Sigurdsson and Bernard, a change that definitely promises something. Antonio then forces a low save from Pickford. Game on?
65 min: Was that the best chance of the game? Fornals is given a free header nine yards out after Bowen checks back and crosses. Perhaps the ball is slightly behind him but he’s got to get that on target … instead he fluffs the contact and puts it well wide.
64 min: Coleman, who has at least tried to make stuff happen from right-back, runs onto a Sigurdsson pass but snatches his shot and Randolph saves. That was the kind of ambition and initiative this match has so sorely lacked. Still time for more of it though!
63 min: “Is this better/worse than Brazil v Italy World Cup final 1994?” asks David C Hunter.
Worse, because at least you knew somebody would win the World Cup at the end of that one. And also because I watched that from a holiday park in Denmark that had a sensational array of water slides.
61 min: Michail Antonio replaces Haller, and that might liven things up in attack for West Ham – who promptly win a free-kick after Coufal is fouled by Godfrey, who is booked. Cresswell to whip in from the right, just outside the box … and Pickford punches it away from under his crossbar.
59 min: “Really only watching this game on BT Sport as a tactic to avoid being asked to join in my grandson’s attempt to build a giant dinosaur out of Lego. At last glance it vaguely resembled Sam Allardyce but that might be the one glass of wine too many I had at lunchtime,” writes Rick Harris. “I like the idea of Messi joining Leeds, but would he go full man bun?”
It’d be contractual. But Rick … I’d get on with that dinosaur, much as it’s brilliant to have your company here.
55 min: “If we can’t get rid of VAR (and that would seem to be the case), then let’s lean into its possibilities,” writes Tom Hopkins. Specifically, I’d like to see a remake of Escape to Victory with VAR checks on every marginal decision. On the downside, the match would then have outlasted the war itself. On the upside, I always felt Stallone was marginally off his line when that penalty was taken.”
Hang on, something nearly happened there – Rice fizzes a gorgeous centre across goal from the left but no West Ham player can get there for the tap-in!
54 min: Everton look a *little* more progressive than they did in the first half, and are being allowed a lot of the ball, but it’d be a stretch to say things are much more exciting.
52 min: Colin Young wishes for sin-bins:
“I’ve never been a fan of sending players off for 2 yellow cards. For me it’s too often down to bad luck rather than actual skulduggery or malice, plus it short-changes fans who have, after all, come to see their teams’ players actually play.
How about creating a basketball-style ‘sin-bin’ which would sideline a player for, say, 10 minutes after a foul?”
51 min: Not sure I have ever seen less of Richarlison in a game. You usually know he’s there, even if things aren’t coming off for him. It’s all so tentative out there, still.
49 min: Justin Kavanagh wishes – “My wish is that Lionel Messi signs on for Señor Bielsa on a whim, and helps Lovely Leeds to bring even more thrills and spills to the Premiership. Then goes on to lead Argentina to glory at the next World Cup. Why? Because if you can’t dream out loud on New Year’s Day, then we may as well all stop watching the footie.”
I was out walking on Hampstead Heath earlier and I genuinely overheard a man trying to explain Bielsa’s tactics at Leeds to a boy who must have been no older than seven.
46 min: Coleman tries to dart onto a Davies loft forward and it causes a little chaos between Randolph and Cresswell, the former having to come out and bat the ball away.
The superbly-named Duncan Edwards has these wishes:
“My wish is that the media wind in the psychoanalysis of blame and speculation. I’m not a fan of the NFL but the coverage there is much more respectful in tone than the Premier League, especially the ex-pros. Perhaps the UK is a ruder society, but I find the blame culture against refs, players, and of course managers is verging on the toxic. That’s top of the list, but then get rid of the ball on plinth, the shaking hands and lining-up like it’s an international, clamp down on time-wasting, diving, and Jürgen Klopp.”
Well Duncan, you can jolly well &%$£ … I’m joking, I know what you mean, I think we do tend to obsess over personalities and microanalyse throwaway quotes, for example, far too much in this country and indeed in this industry.
Some *analysis* from me, to make sure I earn my dollar: West Ham will have been happier with that half, they looked solid as they so often do away from home under Moyes, and did occasionally suggest they could string a move together on the counter.
“I wish there was less football. At the very least abolish the League Cup. We would all enjoy the game much more,” requests Gerry Scott.
“The beauty of football is its unpredictability. There is no script and sometimes you have to sieve through a mountain of dross to find a nugget. I’m sure the TV bosses would like it otherwise,” writes Barry Edwards.
Oh, quite right, total stinkers are part and parcel of this sport.
Peter Pearson asks: “Another wish here for Covid to get lost and fans to return to stadiums. I’d love to visit London again and see the new Plough Lane. Also hope Clapton CFC get their new clubhouse roof.
“It’s been really nice having the MBM chat and community during 2020 so thanks for that. Did you eat anything nice over the holidays?”
A fair bit thanks Peter, and hope you did too. During that half I was nibbling on some Baron Bigod and crackers left over from last night, which formed part of an excellent NYE meal delivery from a restaurant local to me in Crouch End.
Brendan O’Sullivan requests of 2021: “As an Arsenal fan, can I get creative and ask that Silent Stan Kroenke sell Arsenal to a fan-owned co-operative (with me providing much of the financing after I win the lottery…).”
Half-time: Everton 0-0 West Ham
I’ve watched hundreds upon hundreds of Premier League games, as I’m sure have many of you, and even in today’s goldfish-memory times I’d struggle to think of a half in which less has happened. That means, at least, that the second period can only be better – so stick with us! And keep sending in your excellent football wishes for 2021, as you’re frankly keeping this MBM alive for me at the moment.
45+1 min: Well that was a moment of modest interest. Routine for Randolph, in truth, but a meaty hit and a shot on target.
45 min: Fornals fouls Bernard in a dangerous position on the Everton right. Is something about to … happen? Sigurdsson’s ball in is overhit but West Ham put it behind at the back stick. A corner, now … which is headed out as far as Bernard, who strikes one from 25 yards and sees Randolph parry to his right!
42 min: A wish from Adam Griffiths –
“Apart from the obvious (firing VAR from a cannon into the sun) and the more obvious (being able to go to an actual game), my football wish is for the ball to have to fully be in the quadrant at corners. Nothing boils my potatoes more than players trying to take advantage of microns (microns!) by putting the ball as far over the quadrant line without being over the line as possible. Or further (James Milner, I’m looking at you).”
40 min: Rick Harris has wishes I dearly hope we can make true –
“I guess we all want fans back inside grounds as football without a crowd is depressing. I stopped going to football matched twenty years ago when I had young children and didn’t want them exposed to the foul language and racist abuse that was commonplace no matter what club. Football has a once in a lifetime opportunity right now to clamp down on this and enforce a zero tolerance policy when fans return.”
38 min: Nathan Human’s wish is –
“VAR only to be used for penalties and red cards. But like NFL, each manager gets two challenges per game. If they really think it’s offside/handball, then challenge it before kick off. Should cut down on a lot of stoppages and stop some of the absurd armpit offsides”
37 min: Benrahma wins a second corner for West Ham. Bowen’s first delivery was pretty tempting. This one is a bit deeper and, at length, results in one from the other flank despite Mina’s protests that Ogbonna fouled him. Cresswell puts it in from the left but it’s beyond everyone.
35 min: I like this one from Shreyas Das:
“I have always been a critic of the way football is being monetised, but this year provides an ideal opportunity for the so called smaller clubs to seriously challenge for the title … which just goes on to show how fun football really can be when it is played on such level playing grounds. Thus my wish for 2021 is that football emerges as the winner at the end of 2021.”
33 min: A wish from James Ferguson that would scramble too many brains, including mine as our regular Arsenal writer – “My football wish involves redemption: that in a critical season ending match (either to avoid relegation or to make it into next season’s European play) Arsenal are forced to rely on the forgotten man Özil, who rises from the dead with an epic two goal and two assist performance, thereby ensuring that Arsenal avoid further grief.”
31 min: Are West Ham reading this? They construct a patient move across the Everton box, the ball ending up with Cresswell in a decent position. He pulls his effort across goal with nobody sniffing around the six-yard box, but I’ll take this as a “moment”.