West Ham United ended the 2017/18 Premier League season on a high with an eye-catching performance in Sunday’s 3-1 win over Everton.
The Hammers edged an exciting end-of-season encounter by playing some of their best passing football of the season and scoring three outstanding goals.
While Everton did threaten themselves utilising their more direct style, it was the home side whose fluent display deservedly won the day at London Stadium.
The hosts touched the ball 652 times – their highest since making 692 touches in the 1-1 draw with Stoke City in April – to Everton’s 526 and enjoyed 56.6% of possession to the Blues’ 43.4%.
The Hammers also out-passed Everton significantly, 478 to 364, but it was the quality of those passes that enabled them to repeatedly carve through the visitors’ midfield. West Ham completed 83.3% of their passes, nearly 8% up on their season average and third-highest behind the home games against West Bromwich Albion and Brighton & Hove Albion.
West Ham made 317 of their 478 passes in the Everton half, further illustrating their dominance, with Manuel Lanzini and Joao Mario attempting 84 of their 110 passes in Blues territory.
Overall, no fewer than seven West Ham starters completed at least 89% of their passes, with Mark Noble, Joao Mario and Lanzini combining to complete 153 of the 169 they attempted, including 101 of 115, or 87.8%, inside the Everton half.
Lanzini was at his outstanding best, combining regularly with Joao Mario and fellow goalscorer Marko Arnautovic, repeatedly creating space for himself with his low centre of gravity and ability to spin out of tight situations, embarking on four dribbles, unleashing three shots and scoring two fine goals.
On this form, the No10 will surely be included in Argentina’s squad for this summer’s FIFA World Cup finals.
Ahead of him, Arnautovic ended a memorable first season in Claret and Blue with another outstanding 90 minutes of centre forward play.
Strong, hard-working and full of confidence, the Austrian was West Ham’s statistical Man of the Match, providing the assist for Lanzini’s opening goal, before putting his side two goals up with a scorching shot that Jordan Pickford found simply too hot to handle.
The No7, who led his team by making five key passes and five dribbles overall, also had a powerful second-half header ruled out for offside, preventing him becoming the first West Ham player since Marlon Harewood in 2005/06 to hit a dozen Premier League goals in a single season.
While Pickford endured a nightmare afternoon, allowing Arnautovic’s shot and Lanzini’s late curler to elude him, Adrian produced another secure performance between the sticks.
The Spaniard made six important saves, including a potentially match-winning stop to deny Oumar Niasse with his left foot when the game was still goalless, and was only denied a third consecutive clean sheet when the Senegalese striker fired home from four yards out at the end of a goalmouth scramble.
With players giving their all and in form at both ends of the pitch, it was therefore no surprise that the Hammers turned their performance into a deserved victory.