In Everton’s final league match of the WSL season they brought out a three at the back formation (343) against Manchester United. They lost 2-0, but it was enough for Emma Hayes to gamble on them trying it again. No surprise here, Emma was right, and we lined up in our own 343 — with a back line of Eriksson-Carter-Bright.
Berger; Eriksson, Carter, Bright; Andersson, Fleming, Leupolz, Cuthbert; Reiten, England, Kerr
Even though Hayes shifted into a back three for the second half of the Champions League Final and it worked very well, when Chelsea had tried it against WSL competition (once) it hadn’t led to the same fluidity we’re used to. This time it wasn’t bad, and we did roll into halftime with a 1-0 lead, but it was also been a bit shaky at the back.
There were times the lack of numbers in midfield allowed Everton to pass through and spray the ball to the wing to isolate one of our wingbacks (typically Hayley Raso vs Jonna Andersson on the left) and create 1v1. The Toffees created a couple decent chances from this sort of work, but Berger made the saves you’d expect her to make and the center backs did well marking Gauvin in the air.
The Blues grew into the match and started to look more and more dangerous and were able to capitalize on that pressure just before the half-hour mark. Sam Kerr, our Golden Boot-winner, pounced on a ball and dribbled toward the box before squaring to Guro Reiten who found the bottom corner!
The second half began as the first half ended, with Chelsea finding the spaces to create danger and Everton hoping they could find the right links in transition and hope Gauvin could outjump two, or all three, of Bright, Eriksson and Carter. Guess which plan worked better?
After some pinball in the box, Millie Bright got a chance to tack on Chelsea’s second in emphatic nature but her long range drive hit the bar. Seconds afterward Sam Kerr was released into the box and behind the defense, but Everton goalkeeper Sandy MacIver made a good sprawling save and was able to stop the ball from rolling beneath her into the goal. Still, Chelsea were threatening and it seemed only a matter of time.
That time, however, was not the 65th minute, as MacIver yet again stopped a Kerr shot from changing the scoreline.
But there was nothing she could do about what happened 13 minutes later. After Bethany England was denied by the post and Bright by the bar, Kerr played a bit of head tennis with an Everton center back before gaining possession and smashing in an unstoppable shot off the underside of the bar!
A handful of minutes later, Sam Kerr turned provider yet again and set up Drew Spence for a header that looped over MacIver, who was only able to swat the ball into the side netting.
The match ended 3-0, sending Chelsea into the quarterfinals of this season’s FA Cup (which will be resumed at the start of the 2021-22 season).
This is the Chelsea we know, and the type of result with which the Blues deserve to head into the offseason.