Everton 3-1 Chelsea: 5 Talking Points As Lampard Boys Lose Again
Everton latched on to three moments of dreadful defending from Chelsea as they beat the West Londoners by 3-1. A brace from Dominic Calvert-Lewin after the opener from Richarlison fuelled the victory, with Mateo Kovacic’s first Premier League goal coming only as a remote lifeline.
The Toffees headed into the game with a major load of problems on and off the pitch after Marco Silva’s dismissal but Duncan Ferguson revitalised the side’s approach, mindset and tactics.
Deploying a sturdy, effervescent and industrious XI, Ferguson extracted the most basic yet effective credentials from his players. The Blues meanwhile, couldn’t create much due to the lack of space and Everton’s physical dominance.
On that note, we analyse the major talking points from Chelsea’s disappointing defeat at Goodison Park.
#1 Everton’s changed structure pays off as Richarlison scores
Duncan Ferguson’s introduction seems to have inspired a breath of fresh air immediately, as the home supporters welcomed him with a rapturous reception. Everton shifted from a back three to a back four, with Michael Keane and Mason Holgate shielding the heart of defence.
In front stood a screen of four midfielders, all closely connected and working in tandem with each other. They stood nice and narrow, hurrying the two-man baseline of Chelsea. Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin lead the firing line as a front two.
And from what we witnessed in the opening exchanges of the fixture, the Toffees held firm control of proceedings. They constricted the visitors to zero space, making them clock the ball around without much penetration. The chasing was splendid, as they went around hunting in pairs.
It was the captain Cesar Azpilicueta, who should have endured no hesitation in getting out and blocking Walcott. Instead, it was Mateo Kovacic from midfield chasing the former Gunner.
The strike duo of Everton outmuscled Andreas Christensen – quite a part of their pre-match plans – and left Zouma in no man’s land.
#2 Everton’s midfield tactically cancels out their counterparts
Ferguson came in and simplified the level of football, not preferring to play out from the back, plying with intensity and engulfing the opposition in midfield.
Chelsea had no time to churn out attacks on a repeated basis, as they were made to work their way through and insert an extra creative edge. Although the Toffees only had just over 25% of the ball in the opening 45 minutes, Kurt Zouma and Christensen were significantly called into action.
One thing brilliantly charted out was the role to the front two. Every time Kante or Kovacic picked up the ball from deeper positions, the hard-working Calvert-Lewin swarmed around them and forced them with little time.
This in turn, provided the Everton midfield a better way of organising themselves as a pack. Every single time the ball was knocked around, the likes of Gylfi Sigurdsson and Morgan Schneiderlin led the press and choked Chelsea down.
This ultimately, created a numerical advantage for the hosts. And although Chelsea enjoyed a major portion of the ball, they never really managed to fabricate a series of attacks.
#3 Chelsea’s defensive calamities rise to the surface, again
Against a side playing out of their skin in front of a bouncing home crowd, all Chelsea had to do with their lion’s share of possession on the defensive front was stick to their basics, stay close and tight to their markers and play on the line.
However, the center-halves made an absolute mishmash of what should have been a simple clearance. Christensen initially mistimed him jump and got almost nothing on the ball with his head, before Zouma failed to sort his feet out in his attempt to clear the loose ball.
Calvert-Lewin, known for his tenacity, fought hard to win it back and took the chance with both hands, slotting the ball past an onrushing Arrizabalaga. It’s not the first time Chelsea’s problems at the back have been outlined.
They commit such errors repeatedly, and on days when their forward line isn’t firing on all cylinders, it puts more pressure on the likes of Mount and Abraham.
#4 Chelsea’s recent form is being carried over by the lack of a killer instinct
The Blues unlocked their 50-goal tally to the Frank Lampard era, but fair to speak, they’ve been far from clinical of late. Just eight of those goals have come in the last six fixtures, with the team also firing two blanks in their last three encounters.
They held on to beat Aston Villa, but otherwise, the Pensioners have a substandard conversion rate in all competitions. They work the ball well, are productive on hitting their opponents on the counter and are quick in translating defence to attack, but it’s the final ball or the finishing touches that need mending.
Today too, Willian markedly, had a couple of free chances to swing his boot at it after Michael Keane had made a mess out of an air ball. The Brazilian instead, try to cook a meal in the box and never launched an effort.
Another instance was when Pulisic wriggled through the Everton back line and squared it for Willian, but the veteran just allowed Keane to stab it away. Neither did he produce a false run, nor did he attempt to get in front.
Mason Mount, usually composed in front of goal, scuffed a couple of opportunities. But on the overall note, the delivery from Azpilicueta was almost non-existent, while Pulisic tried to weave his way through one too many times. Not to mention, the Blues were robbed off the ball a number of times in the middle of their forward processing.
#5 Frank Lampard got his team selection horribly wrong
With matches flowing thick and fast, it was up to Lampard to rotate his main players while also keeping the crucial home game against LOSC Lille in mind.
Having rested Jorginho against Villa, he should have brought the pivot right back at the centre of the park. The Italian’s balls over the top, awareness and overall ability to control the game would have been a viable option to undo Everton’s midfield package. Kovacic on the other hand, deserved a big rest.
Willian should have paved way for Callum Hudson-Odoi, who since return from the minor injury, hasn’t been involved in the thick of action much.
The same goes with Fikayo Tomori, who for unknown reasons, has now not featured in back to back fixtures. Emerson’s attacking instincts and sharp deliveries were dearly missed as well. Some of these senior boys could have dropped to the bench and popped right back into it against Lille.
The substitutions too, came way too late. When there was no real carving done by the Chelsea forward line, no real inspiration, why did the gaffer have to wait till the 70th minute to haul Willian off?
Perhaps, with more December schedules and work requirements, an inexperienced Lampard will learn.