Collins immense as Lukaku finally has an off day against West Ham
Call out the statisticians! Everton's Romelu Lukaku failed to add to his astonishing goal tally against West Ham as an entertaining game ended 0-0 at the London Stadium on Saturday.
This was a much better match than some suggest however, and supporters were encouraged by the solid defensive performance and the excellent approach work. Sadly, Slaven Bilic can't call on anyone with the presence of the unusually quiet Lukaku and the home fans weren't able to celebrate a home win due to the paucity of the Hammers forward line.
Even so, Everton failed to bother the recalled Adrian in the Hammers goal and Ronald Koeman's men looked decidedly unsure at times as Manuel Lanzini and Arthur Masuaku attacked with pace and skill.
The proof was where it was needed though that, despite the goals shipped at the back this season, the West Ham coaching staff need to identify at least two strikers for next season.
A superb defensive performance snuffed out any threat from Lukaku. The Stratford crowd applauded the team off at the end; they deserved a better result from an impressive display.
The main reason the point wasn't turned into all three is because the Hammers have no end product. Jonathan Calleri failed to shine and Bilic needs to get Diafra Sakho back into his good books while he hunts for summer replacements.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- It's a bit late in the season but Bilic managed to get a good rear-guard action out of his team and chased and harried every ball into the bargain. At least that's how it appeared, judging by his animated performance from his position in the technical area.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Adrian, 6 -- The 30-year-old was back in the starting XI, but made an early howler that nearly gifted Lukaku a goal. Adrian settled down after however and wasn't really tested again. Notably though, the keeper was far more assured at corners and doesn't allow himself to get boxed in as counterpart Darren Randolph tends to allow to happen. Needs to continue between the posts.
DF Winston Reid, 8 -- Back from injury earlier than expected and his reappearance came at exactly the right time. An assured return; Reid didn't allow Everton's forwards a sniff of goal.
DF Jose Fonte, 8 -- Another improved performance from the Portugal international, who looks to be settling in at last.
DF James Collins, 9 -- The fan favourite never disappoints and this was a classic Collins display. There was barely a part of his body he didn't use to block, that is when he wasn't firmly heading the ball further than most can kick it. Kept a lock on Lukaku in an immense performance.
DF Arthur Masuaku, 9 -- Another player who has improved week on week. As a wing-back, Masuaka is now showing the out-of-form Aaron Cresswell how to get past his man and cross a dangerous ball. Solid in defence too.
DF Edimilson Fernandes, 7 -- Given an opportunity to start, Fernandes seemed to be playing as an improvised right wing-back. Good ball skills and not afraid to take on a player, but not quite there in terms of the quality of the final ball.
MF Havard Nordtveit, 8 -- While the Norway international has been disappointing in his debut season for the Hammers, many are pointing out that the former Arsenal player hasn't been playing in his best position for Bilic. Against Everton, as cover for the back four, Nordtveit was in his favourite spot and was superb as a result. Easily the best performance so far from the midfielder.
MF Cheikhou Kouyate, 7 -- Some of those surging, powerful runs had the London Stadium crowd getting excited early on, but the direction was wayward and the big midfielder wasn't able to repeat his excellent strike against Swansea in his last home game. Still a bit of a surprise when the Senegal international was substituted off in the 79th minute.
MF Manuel Lanzini, 8 -- Some excellent ball control had the crowd on their feet and Everton on their heels. If only Lanzini just had a bit more presence in front of goal he'd be the complete package.
FW Andre Ayew, 6 -- Battled well and chased lost causes to the delight of the home supporters but, as previously, seemed to get lost towards the end of the game.
FW Jonathan Calleri, 4 -- Bilic is apparently a fan but he must see something no one else is. Given his first Premier League start, Calleri was as disappointing as he is when introduced from the bench in previous matches. Not a 10-15 goal a season striker.
FW Diafra Sakho, 6 -- Rightly coming on for Calleri on the hour, Sakho couldn't contribute a great deal but noticeably the striker did get into positions that Calleri just doesn't see. The whole West Ham forward line needs a major overhaul in the summer but, in the meantime, Bilic needs to make peace with the apparently spiky Senegal striker. He needs him until May.
DF Aaron Cresswell, N/R -- Surprisingly replacing Kouyate with 10 minutes to go, the former Ipswich player couldn't get into the game.
Peter Thorne, aka Billy Blagg (@BillyBlaggEsq), is ESPN FC's West Ham blogger.