Photo by Arfa Griffiths/West Ham United via Getty Images

Etherington praises Anderson, Rice and Arnautovic after Everton win

There were strong displays across the pitch for West Ham on Sunday.

Manuel Pellegrini needed a birthday win to ease the pressure on him and his players – the performance was secondary in many ways.

However, he was afforded both. The likes of Declan Rice, Pedro Obiang, Andriy Yarmolenko, Marko Arnautovic, Issa Diop, Felipe Anderson and Lukasz Fabianski were all outstanding.

Former Hammers winger singled out three of the aforementioned players for special mention, after the game.


What did he say?

STOKE-ON-TRENT, ENGLAND – MAY 05: Sky Sports pitchside pundit Matthew Etherington looks on ahead of the Premier League match between Stoke City and Crystal Palace at the Bet365 Stadium on May 5, 2018 in Stoke-on-Trent, England. (Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Getty Images)

Speaking to BBC Sport (18:02), Etherington said: “I thought Everton were poor on the day, West Ham by far better side. Felipe Anderson was outstanding. Arnautovic got another goal but the injury is a worry he is a big player for them. Declan Rice was amazing.”

Anderson’s defensive contribution was arguably the biggest surprise of the afternoon; he finally showed the energy required to offer something on both sides of the match.

Talisman Arnie was inspired, making a mockery of Stan Collymore’s pre-match criticism to lead from the front.

Rice was also classy in his holding midfield role. Against Liverpool earlier on in the season, he was exposed in that position. But on his return to Merseyside, he was imperious. Manuel Pellegrini may well have found his holding midfielder. 

Trio are vital

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 16: Andriy Yarmolenko (L) of West Ham United celebrates scoring with Marko Arnautovic and Felipe Anderson (C) as Declan Rice and Fabian Balbuena (R) join them during the Premier League match between Everton FC and West Ham United at Goodison Park on September 16, 2018 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Arfa Griffiths/West Ham United via Getty Images)

Arnie’s importance goes without saying, especially with Javier Hernandez sidelined and Lucas Perez lacking gametime. The fact that he is set to be fit for the weekend’s visit of Chelsea is a major boost.

Anderson was Pellegrini’s big creative gamble; it was a case of getting him up to speed and finding a position for him. If he was unable to contribute defensively, Pellegrini may have been forced to field him in a number 10 role.

The success of Sunday’s 4-3-3 would have made that an awkward fit; Anderson showing his worth on the left is a huge boost and he can form a formidable front three with Arnie and Yarmolenko.

Pellegrini also placed faith in Rice to adjust as a defensive midfielder by not signing one during the summer. If he continued to struggle, old heads Carlos Sanchez and Mark Noble may have been forced to deputise.

However, if he maintains his Everton level of performance, Pellegrini can look forward to having a younger man in the engine room; a player of real quality that the fans love.

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