Leon Osman still has plenty to offer
Neighbours Liverpool might be on the verge of saying goodbye to one of their homegrown midfielders but Leon Osman keeps on going strong.
A relatively late starter in the Blues first team – he was almost 23 before he established himself in the side – Ossie has certainly made up for lost time.
One of the game’s late bloomers – he didn’t win his first England cap until he was 31 – Osman remains capable of conjuring up that bit of magic needed in crucial times in a game.
Able to operate anywhere across the midfield, he was employed in a floating role down the left flank on this occasion, often cutting inside and offering good support in and around the box.
Osman is a master of creating that crucial extra bit of space for himself in tight situations.
In the first half there was a lovely moment when he cushioned the ball down with his chest before executing a delicate pirouette to open up the Hammers defence.
As for the goal? It was a terrific piece of skill from the wee fella. He flicked the ball up to control it before despatching a scissor-kick past Adrian. It was almost Pele in Escape to Victory stuff.
Even Big Sam said it was “world class.”
Brendan Galloway wasn’t overawed by making his Premier League debut
It wasn’t exactly a baptism of fire but making your top flight bow is a big deal for any youngster – especially when you’re being played out of position.
Galloway – who was only 15 when he first turned out for MK Dons’ senior side – has made his name so far in his fledgling career as mostly a centre-back and sometimes a central midfielder but he was employed in a left-back role on this occasion.
Not only was Galloway shunted out wide on his big day he was coming up against a genuine winger in the shape of Stewart Downing who is a seasoned Premier League performer and England international.
The former Liverpool wide man escaped Galloway’s attentions to put the home side ahead but it would be a harsh critic to single out the 19-year-old for blame.
Galloway looked assured in possession and cool under pressure even though he had a testing afternoon in terms of his positional play.
It would seem that Galloway has been recruited as a long-term replacement for Sylvain Distin but he showed that he remains an option for Martinez as an auxiliary full-back when required but where this leaves Luke Garbutt remains unclear.
Europa League Fair Play Shoot-Outs are not as exciting as penalty shoot-outs
Last time Roberto Martinez’s men were at Upton Park back in January it was for a rip-roaring FA Cup third round replay.
Two hours of pulsating play couldn’t separate the sides and we had to go all the way through the teams to the goalkeepers until West Ham’s Spanish custodian Adrian proved the match-winner.
This stroll in the May sunshine was nowhere near as pulsating – even with the carrot of a backdoor entry to next season’s Europa League on offer.
The home fans entered into the spirit after going 1-0 down early in the ‘card count’ through Winston Reid as they cheered extra loud as both Seamus Coleman and Gareth Barry went into the book in the first half and James McCarthy and Brendan Galloway in the second but it just wasn’t the same.
Part of the problem is that the criteria for how you move up and down the Fair Play table are unclear.
It’s not as simple as who gets the fewest cards with additional factors such as ‘positive play’ – seemingly unquantifiable to us laymen – thrown into the mix.
Will we even know as the final whistle blows against Tottenham next weekend whether the Blues have made it or not?
Does the fact that Roberto Martinez is a nicer guy than Sam Allardyce count. If it comes down to an arm wrestle between the two then the Blues chances must be looking slim.
Aiden McGeady needs to produce more moments of magic like this
Roberto Martinez has always been a big fan of the tricky wide man but if he’s ever going to be a hit at the Blues then he needs to turn on the style like he did at Upton Park on a more regular basis.
McGeady’s teasing stoppage time cross was gleefully met by Romelu Lukaku for his now obligatory goal against West Ham – that’s six in six against them with Everton.
However, such highlights have generally been few and far between from the former Celtic and Spartak Moscow man in his 18-month spell at Goodison to date.
We all know that McGeady possesses an impressive box of tricks to keep most full-backs on the back foot – remember his opening day wonder strike at Leicester City back in August? – but we haven’t seen enough of his twinkling toes so far.
By their nature most wingers are fleeting in that they drift in and out of games but it must be frustrating for both player and manager that McGeady is not putting in displays like this impressive cameo most weeks.
At least his exploits put a huge smile on the faces of the 3,000 travelling Evertonians positioned behind the goal at the Sir Trevor Brooking Stand who of course had their £55 tickets (Click to find tickets) partly subsidised by the Blues players who all chipped in to knock a tenner off the price.
John Stones can mix it
We all know John Stones as the silky smooth ball-playing centre-back who cruises through games but the England international showed that there’s plenty of Yorkshire grit to his game too.
When you’re in defence there’s got to be graft as well as craft and Stones thwarted the Hammers on several occasions with a string of meaty, even bone-crunching challenges.
It’s usually Stones’ centre-back partner Phil Jagielka who is throwing himself head first among the flying boots but while the skipper was quietly effective on this occasion, it was Stones who stood out as the rock at the heart of the Blues defence.
A level-headed young man both on and off the pitch, it was fitting that he produced such a polished display at a soon-to-close football ground where a huge mural of World Cup winning captain Bobby Moore looks down on proceedings.
It seems strange to think that Stones was drafted in as David Moyes’ final Everton signing in January 2013 to play as a right-back.
Whether the Scot would have had the foresight to switch him into the middle like Martinez remains unknown but after 11 years at Goodison what a parting gift.