Chelsea looked to use their overload in midfield to their advantage, especially when Everton’s front two pushed up to press the ball high, which opened the spaces ahead of and behind their midfield line.
Chelsea had two ways of dealing with the high pressure of Everton’s front two: to play through the midfielders, or play long and direct to Giroud.
Long to Giroud took advantage of the narrow wingers and midfielders supporting from behind, especially when one of Everton’s two deep midfielders were higher up to block the pass to Gilmour. From these situations Chelsea would have to fight for the second ball in midfield, especially since Keane was winning a number of headers against Giroud, but upon winning it they could launch a quick attack.
When when Everton’s deep central midfielders didn’t push up to close down Gilmour, Chelsea could play through the lines instead, utilizing the 3-v-2 advantage in midfield to good effect. When collecting the ball in these spaces, Gilmour would quickly find advanced players between lines to attack Everton’s backline and put them on the back foot.
A prime example of this situation was the build-up to Mason Mount scoring Chelsea’s first goal of the game:
With Giroud as the option to play off of in the middle, Willian and Pedro were able to play with the confidence in his target man qualities, and make make runs behind and look to combine with him on the inside.
Chelsea made a number of good attacks playing off of Giroud and combining with him to get behind Everton’s backline during the half, with the following resulting in Chelsea’s second goal of the game. Barkley was often the player looking to exploit early through-balls behind the backline, both when playing through the midfielders and in broken play. For the goal, his pass was perfectly timed to find Pedro’s outside-in run to go clean through 1-v-1 with Pickford.
Switch to diamond
Everton switched to a diamond in midfield after conceding the two goals, with Gomes at the base, Davies and Sigurdsson on the sides, and Bernard behind the strikers.
Before then, Everton had played with both Davies and Gomes looking to collect the ball from the central defenders (ahead of, or to the sides) and play forward, with the fullbacks moving high up early, the wingers moving inside between lines (or dropping back for the ball in the fullback spaces), and Richarlison dropping off between lines.
With the diamond, they would now build up with three at the base (the central defenders and Gomes), which Chelsea looked to pressure by having the wingers play even narrower to create a 3-v-3 — leaving Everton’s advancing fullbacks to be covered by Chelsea’s fullbacks. Gomes found himself under pressure when collecting the ball in these situations, and would often need to win a foul to prevent Chelsea counters.
Defensively, Everton could now cover the Chelsea overload in the center of midfield and stop Chelsea from playing through the central midfielders while matching the numbers for long balls. However, instead of playing long, Chelsea would take advantage of Everton’s diamond leaving the fullbacks free in spaces to receive the ball, carry it forward, and play forward passes to runners from midfield.
Everton switched back to a flat 4-4-2 with Walcott replacing Bernard in the second half, which, despite their aggressive start, would again see Chelsea playing through the line with their overloads and easily dribbling past Everton’s midfielders and defenders to reach the final third.
A quick combination and the turn by Barkley would find Willian on the edge of the box to give Chelsea their third goal of the game, and shortly after — every time Chelsea had the ball, they would quickly arrive to the box — they would go on to score a fourth with Giroud beating Holgate at the far post from a short corner. Following the goals the intensity and speed of the game dropped, and Chelsea would give further minutes to academy players to see the game out.
Chelsea’s extra man in midfield saw them recovering and competing for second balls, and breaking through Everton’s lines when their front two were pressing high up.
In general, with Giroud as striker, Chelsea’s wingers have been able to play on the inside, combine with him, and gamble on him keeping the ball long enough to make runs behind the opposition’s backline — while the central midfielders move up facing play in close support and look for passes behind, or carry the ball forward.