Direct play from the back provided Everton with the platform to win the ball high up and maintain a high block, and would see them take the early lead by sustaining their high position inside Chelsea’s half. Chelsea have had difficulties dealing with such situations, especially when the opposition are able to move the ball to the wing quickly — Sidibe’s overlap finding him in space to cross the ball into Richarlison.
Everton defended with great pressure in midfield when Chelsea had the ball, particularly with passes to feet on the wings — anything ahead of the defenders was closed down quickly. Chelsea’s central defenders could have the ball without pressure (when Everton chose to close them down, Chelsea would advance through the midfielders consistently), allowing Everton to have close distances to the forward passing options to press the pass.
Did Duncan Ferguson make a difference? Everton made 37 tackles against Chelsea. That’s the most by any team in the Premier League this season and the most that Everton have made in a Premier League game all decade.— Adam Bate (@ghostgoal) December 7, 2019
To advance forward, Chelsea instead needed to find spaces between players to receive the ball on the inside, or find depth early to cause Everton problems. Mount was a successful outlet in the first regard, where he could find space, keep the ball under pressure and move the ball quickly to create chances around the box. Finding depth behind Everton’s backline was accomplished through long passes behind for Abraham to compete with Everton’s central defenders (close support behind him to maintain pressure on the ball), or through long diagonals to the fullbacks making early forward runs. However, Chelsea did not have the efficiency to find the final ball from these opportunities.
After initially causing problems as an outlet to run into the channel and win the ball high up, Calvert-Lewin continued to be a threat to Chelsea’s backline by recovering the ball inside the penalty area and finishing to extend Everton’s lead early in the second half.
Chelsea were quick to react to this goal. Kante began to make runs behind Everton’s backline from deep, providing an additional attacking option. And from the first such run, he set up the opportunity to cross, which eventually resulted in Kovacic scoring. Later in the half, Kante’s run behind Everton’s backline would again cause problems, setting up a chance for Mount to shoot inside the box — but his measured finish did not find the target.
Chelsea made changes in search of an equalising goal as the half went on, with Hudson-Odoi replacing Willian and Batshuayi replacing James. However, that second change, which made the team very attacking (3-4-1-2 with the ball) turned out to be a non-factor as it came just before the mistake was made passing the ball out from the back that gifted Everton a two-goal lead to hold onto for the final stages of the game.
Following their change of manager, Everton reacted in a very positive and energetic way, and with the early goal to provide an extra boost. Chelsea continued to have problems in dealing with crosses from the right and long balls at their backline (not allowing them to press high), and conceding early on in both halves made it very difficult for them as well. The reaction to conceding the second goal was good and Chelsea began to find new solutions through Kante’s runs behind to create chances and score, but the changes made in search of the equaliser never factored into the game as Everton took advantage of the mistake at the back to score their third goal.