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Chelsea 1-1 Everton: Analysis

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LONDON ENGLAND - DECEMBER 04:  John Terry of Chelsea look dejected after the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Everton at Stamford Bridge on December 4 2010 in London England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
LONDON ENGLAND - DECEMBER 04: John Terry of Chelsea look dejected after the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Everton at Stamford Bridge on December 4 2010 in London England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
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Chelsea had this game totally under control for one half before falling apart shortly after the interval. Let's bullet point this:

  • In the first half, Chelsea attempted 335 of them, completing 281 for an accuracy rate of around 84%. In the second, they tried just 244, and their accuracy rate dropped to less than 74%. Despite trying 91 fewer passes in the second half, there were more incompletions than in the first. Everton, meanwhile, played about the same amount of passes in each half (a shade more in the second), with about the same completion rate. It would be nice to be able to blame Everton's change in team shape for the meltdown, but it seems pretty clear to me that Jermaine Beckford being substituted on for Louis Saha does not explain Chelsea completely losing their ability to pass the ball. Florent Malouda was the worst offender, completing 34 of 41 passes in the first half and just 16 of 28 in the second. That this was not observed and corrected is slightly puzzling, especially as on the bench sits a midfielder whose main skill is effective distribution. Josh McEachran for Malouda at some point in the second half seems to me a far more obvious substitution than any of the ones Carlo Ancelotti actually deployed.



Figure 1: Everton vs. Chelsea formations, 12/4/10. Data: ESPN and Guardian. Powered by Tableau.

  • The Blues changed up their tactics in the second half, which they mostly spent on the back foot. Instead of playing along the ground, which admittedly wasn't causing much penetration in the first half, they were playing the ball long for Didier Drogba or Salomon Kalou to chase. This didn't work - the accuracy wasn't there, and even when the ball found its target there was no support. Chelsea's strengths surely don't include route one football, and it was disheartening to see them resort to such tactics, especially when it resulted in Everton regaining possession very quickly, enabling the visitors to go on the attack far more often than in the first half. Chelsea ultimately ended up playing a sort of 4-2-4 and attempting to bypass midfield completely. Guess how well that worked?
  • Speaking of substitutions, Paulo Ferreira for Jose Bosingwa in the 65th minute was clearly a defensive move designed to shore up Chelsea's right back position. Ferreira's a better defender than Bosingwa, although far more limited in attack. Here's what then happened:
    1. Ferreira creates a major scoring chance for Chelsea
    2. Ferreira misses a tackle on Leighton Baines leading directly to Beckford's equaliser.
    Football is weird.