Friday, 10.05.2024

Everton – Chelsea 3:6

Two of the higher level teams in the English Premier League met on Saturday for an exciting clash. There was a lot of anticipation coming into the match, how would Martinez’s possession-oriented Everton play against Jose Mourinho and his Chelsea squad? The match-up did not disappoint as it ended up becoming a goal fest in a 9 goal thriller!

Basic formations at the start of the match.

Basic formations at the start of the match.

Both teams played in 4-2-3-1 formations. For Chelsea, the young Courtois started on goal. A familiar back 4 started the match, with Ivanovic being more adventurous in his forward movements (especially off of goalkicks from Chelsea). As the #6s for Chelsea Matic and Ramires started, with Ramires having a vertical role. This comes quite naturally to him as he seems to have infinite stamina and loves getting up and down the field. Ahead of them, the new signing Cesc Fabregas played as the #10. Cesc very often dropped deep to build play. On the right Willian started. Willian had quick & long movements when dropping into the interior areas of the field for buildup, he gave Chelsea a different and quicker rhythm when on the ball. Hazard played on the left looking to move inside from wide areas and use his dribbles and quickness to create. Up front started the new signing for Chelsea, Diego Costa. He had a huge workrate both offensively and defensively. He looked to make diagonal runs from the center towards either side, providing a fast vertical outlet and  some creativity as well.

For Everton a familiar XI started the match. Tim Howard the American goalkeeper started on goal. Jagielka and Distin started as the centerbacks. Coleman and Baines started as the fullbacks, both got forward a lot but Coleman did so especially. He even attacked inside with his quick rhythm of play during this match. McCarthy and Barry started as the #6s with McCarthy being the more adventurous one moving forward. Barry played deeper and looked to drop between the central defenders and even in the left-back space in order to help his team maintain stable possession and buildup out of the back. Ahead of them played Naismith, who had has normal attitude in the #10 role. He looked to situationally link up play if needed and made many runs forward with a vertical attitude. McGeady and Mirallas started on the wings, both looking to move inside with their dribbles and either shoot or combine with their teammates. The ‘new’ Everton striker Lukaku began the game up front for Everton and remained oriented toward the right side. Lukaku looked to link up play and make runs into the box afterwards, though he struggled throughout due to poor technique.

The main characteristics of this meeting was how open and uncompact it was.

A Classic EPL Game

Both teams played quite uncompact, passive, and had no real control of the center of the field. The obvious talking points in the beginning of the match would be the two quick goals from the start. When two teams play against each other in a passive and open manner, there can be a quick spurt of goals and chances due to the change of rhythm to more fast and direct actions on the ball. With open spaces to exploit due to uncompactness and the intensity and speed to do it vs. a passive defense, the EPL has always been the home for aesthetically pleasing, open, and exciting matches. We all saw a similar 9 goal thriller just last season in the EPL! (City – Arsenal 6:3 by RM )

Chelsea easily exposing Everton's uncoordinated high press.

Chelsea exposing Everton’s uncoordinated high press in the build up to the 2nd goal.

From the first action in the game for Chelsea, they were able to expose the far side halfspace of Everton in defense. The entire Everton defense shifted across the field in order to compact the spaces around the ball as it is normal to do in a zonal marking orientation. Mirallas on the far side decided not to move with his team and stay on the far wing (similar to how Hazard does), leaving the halfspace open. Azpilicueta play a quick and sharp pass across the center into Ramires who was able to immediately play forward into open space. Willian received the ball and laid it off to the open Fabregas who had all the time in the world to pick out the through pass to Diego Costa for the first goal.

Not too far afterwards, we see the buildup to the second goal. Everton pressed high with their 4 highest players, but in an uncoordinated fashion. McGeady and Mirallas stayed oriented toward the opposition fullbacks, while Naismith looked to block passes into Ramires. Lukaku and Naismith were probably told to block all passes into the Chelsea #6s, so Lukaku stayed with Matic even though Matic dropped very deep. This created an obvious lane forward for the free Cahill into Fabregas, who dropped deep to build up the play. When Cesc received the ball, Willian and Hazard moved across the pitch, dragging their opponents with them. It is quite easy to see that Everton had some man oriented jobs, and were easily manipulated. Cesc played Ramires into the open space, who then played Diego Costa who was peeling off towards the left flank. Besides the 2 goals he scored, Diego Costa played 2 excellent passes leading up to Ramires’ assists in this match. After he moved out toward the flank he played a quick and sharp pass across the penalty box (he likes to play longer quick passes around the box) into Ramires, who set up Ivanovic (and later Matic) for the goals through the opened halfspace. Quick horizontal shifts in play were the most dangerous moments throughout the game due to the nature and rhythm of the play.

Costa showed a lot of competence on both offense and defense in regards to exposing and protecting the halfspaces. It is obvious to see that Simeone has influenced him and taught him the value of horizontal compactness. His longer and faster passes across the field allowed Chelsea to exploit the open halfspaces. While on defense he situationally filled in for Hazard when Hazard didnt track back. While he was filling in, he maintained horizontal compactness for the team when the ball was on the far side. Also, throughout the match he was yelling at his teammates to remain compact, which was brilliant to see.

An example of the open spaces that were exploited during the game (for both teams).

An example of the open spaces that were exploited during the game (for both teams).

Everton had most of the control of the ball during the game. This is due in large part to their willingness to use Howard to escape pressure instead of playing long passes, and the movement of Gareth Barry in the buildup. When the ball was deep in and around Howard, Diego Costa would work hard in order to force long kicks from the back (and he succeeded at times). Chelsea were confident that they could send Costa up alone and still win the long pass and 2nd ball without Costa being near to help compress the area. However, Costa likes to press broadly across the pitch and Everton would at times switch the play in order to attack on the opposite side after Costa pressed across the pitch (with Cesc also helping in the first line of the press).

When in the midfield area, Chelsea applied little pressure to Everton’s build up play. Costa and Cesc applied passive pressure to the central defenders. Barry would drop either in between the central defenders or into the left-back space to create superiority out of defense and move past the first line of Chelsea defense (with different angles and penetration depending on where he positioned himself). Everton had an easy time moving forward against Chelsea and playing vertical passes into open spaces. Though they ran into similar problems with general principles of space congestion when in the final 3rd that two other top EPL teams faced when they met each other (City – Liverpool 3:1 by AO ). Because Chelsea was so deep, even when Everton moved the ball well to get in front of the Chelsea defense, it was difficult to play through balls and the speed of play had to become quicker, causing more mistakes. Though near the end of the half Everton were able to score by playing a diagonal ball through the defense into Coleman who assisted Mirallas with a cutback cross against the momentum of the Chelsea defense for the headed goal (similarly to how Atletico defeated Chelsea at home in last year’s CL semifinal). Coleman was Everton’s brightest player of the match, he was quick and direct in his play with the ball and changed the rhythm, of play, creating some chances.

From Chelsea’s point of view, they looked to play in the transitional moments at a fast pace. They always looked to remain stable and avoid being at a disadvantage in possible transitions. For goal kicks they pushed Ivanovic up the field and made sure all the other players were structured in the usual team shape behind the ball. Courtois aimed at Ivanovic down the right who won most of his headers and there was no danger. Chelsea looked to move forward in transitions and didn’t mind losing the ball with a risky pass, as they remained structured behind the ball in these moments and were in the lead.

You can see here Jamie Carragher analyze Chelsea’s principle of maintaining structure behind the ball at all times in order to have less probability of being exposed.

Second Half

Coming into the second half the scoreline was 2:1 in favor of Chelsea, who remained unchanged. Everton had just scored before halftime so they remained unchanged as well, probably feeling confident with the flow of the game. The game continued in a similar fashion. The 3rd Chelsea goal came in the 67th minute. Chelsea were moving the ball around on the left flank and Hazard received the ball against McCarthy. He went past McCarthy and down the byline, Coleman was the quickest to react and managed to get a foot on Hazard’s attempted cross – but it unfortunately deflected into the Everton goal.

Similar to Chelsea’s 2nd goal, Everton scored in the 69th minute by bypassing a poor Chelsea high press. Costa and Cesc were oriented towards the Everton central defenders. Ramires pressed high on Barry who dropped deep to help the build up play, Barry played into the open McCarthy and made a run towards the right (dragging Matic with him). McCarthy played into McGeady’s feet in halfspace, and McGeady turned with the ball and ran at Ramires and dribbled him. Now with Matic dragged wide and Ramires out of the picture McGeady drove directly at the heart of the Chelsea defense. Lukaku made an excellent run across the face of the defense to open a gap for a pass through to Naismith who finished well.

In the 74th minute is when Costa became involved in yet another goal. As Costa received the ball on the left wing, he cut inside and played a quick pass to Ramires. Ramires turned with a touch then played it across to the wide open Matic. Matic, in the open halfspace, cut inside and launched a shot that hit off of the inside of the post and in. Quite interestingly, the move was started off with a quick drive by Gary Cahill once again.

The new signing Eto’o made his debut against his most recent club (Chelsea) at this point in the game, he came on for McGeady on the right (with no structural change). John Obi Mikel also entered the match (for Willian), with Ramires moving to the right side and Mikel/Matic as the two #6s. Ramires played as a right back at this point, which left the Chelsea midfield even more open. Everton won a free kick high up the pitch, and Baines crossed it in behind the set piece defense of Chelsea for Eto’o with momentum in his advantage to header in Everton’s last goal of the match.

In the 77th minute Chelsea struck back once again to make it 5-3. Lukaku dropped deep in order to link up play and had a poor touch and gave away possession in midfield. Chelsea now had a massive overload on the right and due to the lack of backwards pressing from Everton after the ball loss and the lack of compactness from both the Everton defense and midfield, Ramires was able to penetrate the defense with no pressure and a 1-2 pass with Matic to score the 5th Chelsea goal.

Luis came on for Hazard and played as a left back, while the talented new Bosnian signing Besic came on for Lukaku. Chelsea were once again playing their 6-3-1 shape that they have used so often in past games (as well as teams like Crystal Palace or West Ham have before). Besic’s first touch of his debut game was a back heel into Jagielka who was moving away into space, Mikel ran onto the misplaced pass and played Diego Costa through for his 2nd goal of the match and to finish off Everton for good in the 90th minute.


In the end, it was a match we have seen many times throughout the EPL. An exciting and open goalfest. Chelsea continue their great run while Everton will look to recover in the next game. Chelsea showcased their goalscoring capabilities while also winning the match. There were many problems in the game for both teams, will they be able to fix the problems and have successful EPL campaigns in the 2014/2015 season?

BD September 10, 2014 um 12:59 pm

Far too many superlatives in the text.


AO September 13, 2014 um 6:10 pm

Thank you for the feedback, i will make the necessary changes 🙂


Magic_Mo September 9, 2014 um 9:36 am

Nice analysis. However, the author’s stubborn refusal to type out the word “and” makes reading it quite uncomfortable.


AO September 13, 2014 um 5:50 pm

Will change that, thank you 🙂


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