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Everton 2-0 Chelsea, Premier League: Tactical Analysis

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Breaking down Chelsea’s latest defeat

First half

Chelsea dominated the first half. They created a number of chances to score, predominantly from attacks on the left, and stopped Everton from getting out of their own half to sustain a high position.

The attacks on the left saw variations from Hazard, remaining wide on the outside of Coleman or leaving the wing to position himself on the inside to open space on the outside. With Hazard in the middle and Rudiger on the ball in midfield, Alonso would advance into the space ahead to receive a long diagonal ball (Barkley deep and inside to draw Richarlison’s attention away from covering Alonso), similar to how David Luiz has played to the right flank a number of times this season. In doing so, Everton’s defensive shape would be stretched (since they were positioned to hold their lines in midfield and stay away from their own box) and upon receiving the ball, Alonso would draw a defender towards him before finding Hazard in space between lines — going on to shoot at goal.

Another variation on the left was Alonso moving into a high position early on Everton’s backline, Barkley dropping back to the fullback position to collect the ball, and Hazard again central between lines. From here, Barkley could play the ball into Hazard (on the same diagonal line as Higuain ahead of him). Hazard could allow the ball to run through to Higuain, before receiving the return pass for another goal-scoring opportunity.

Hazard or Alonso receiving the ball high and wide left, on the outside of Coleman, would see them to play early passes behind and into the box for Barkley or Hazard running behind from the inside. When Hazard and Pedro switched wings momentarily, Chelsea would draw pressure on the ball to the right (on Hazard), including drawing Richarlison inside and away from Alonso, before switching to the left to create a 2v1 on the wing, which would result in Pedro having a shot from inside the box.

From the right, Pedro created chances through individual actions and had another opportunity from a quick free kick later on in the half, while Jorginho’s high and first-time ball into the box to pick out Higuain’s movement from between the central defenders to behind Mina created another chance.

On most occasions where they won the ball, Everton attempted to counter centrally and look for Calvert-Lewin with his back to goal early, which almost always gave the ball straight back to Chelsea. The only times they got out well were through Bernard, whose close control allowed him to hold onto the ball when 1v1 against Azpilicueta, and Calvert-Lewin making wide runs into the channels — something which he has done successfully against Chelsea in the past.

However, despite Chelsea’s domination and multiple chances, the game would go into the break at 0-0.

Second half

Immediately at the start of the second half, Everton won the ball from Chelsea’s usual long kick off to the left and counter-attacked the exposed wing (which was left open by Chelsea’s fullback being high up the pitch) with numbers (Sigurdsson moving wide to overload) for the first time, creating a chance and bringing the crowd into the game.

(Ed.note: surprising that it took teams this long to expose this stupid routine, which now joins Jorginho’s penalty routine as habits that need to be more varied.)

From this point on, Everton would continue to counter-attack the spaces left on the wings, rather than the central passes in the first half, which much better results. Now that they could take the ball up to the final third and win set pieces in dangerous areas, they had a platform to create chances to score, and, would capitalise on a corner to take the lead (just as they nearly did with a set piece in the first half).

Chelsea continued to create chances after conceding, but, unlike during the first half, Chelsea couldn’t sustain their high position. Since Everton started countering on the wings, Chelsea would need to drop deep and defend, and then start their possession from deep inside their own half rather than from midfield or higher. And once again, by having more of the ball in the final third to create problems, Everton would win and score a penalty to extend their lead.

As the previous weekend, Chelsea switched to a 4-2-3-1 to try to score, and the options from the bench had an impact by offering different individual characteristics, but this time Chelsea were unable to find a goal.

Conclusion

Chelsea’s lack of finishing in the first half cost them. They could have been a number of goals ahead by half time against an Everton side unable to get into the game. Without scoring, Chelsea let Everton off the hook. In the second half, along with a change to start attacking the wings during counters, Everton’s performance with the ball improved significantly, allowing them to create chances and score twice.