David Moyes names an unchanged starting line-up for the third successive daunting match against the Premier League's moneybags sides. Osman, Rodwell and Cahill are all deemed fit enough to play... but no sign of the highly promising up-coming young attacking midfielder, Ross Barkley, or Magaye Gueye:
Everton: Howard; Hibbert, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Osman, Rodwell, Fellaini, Coleman; Cahill; Saha.
Subs: Mucha, Heitinga, Bilyaletdinov, Stracqualursi, Drenthe, Neville, Vellios.
Everton tried to create something down the left in the first few minutes but Saha strangely dummied the cross and any chance evaporated. A poor pass by Fellaini encouraged Chelsea to mount an attack. Osman then looped in a weak cross that Cahill tried to head goalward rather than leaving for Coleman. Saha then made a couple of poor passes giving away attacking possession very cheaply.
Coleman won a corner off a superb diagonal free-kick from Baines, whose corner was just a little too close to Cech. A great play from Baines to Osman to Saha down the left, enabled the Frenchman to jink inside and have a poke at Cech, who fumbled the powerful shot a little. A good chance to move forward was wasted when Cahill, and Rodwell chose to play the ball backwards.
Fellaini got booked cheaply after 15 mins for slightly lifting his foot trying to save a lost ball and catching Ramieres. Jagielka almost got skinned by Drogba but recovered to thwart the Ivorian. Everton had done well in defence to keep Chelsea well away from Tim Howard for the first 20 mins, and an excellent ball in form Osman needed to be clipped first-time by Fellaini who wanted an extra touch. Everton were trying to be creative in possession, mainly down the left, but too often a poor final ball let them down, or they started to get caught offside too easily.
Another lazy piece of interplay allowed Ramieres to break and win Chelsea's first corner but thankfully nothing came of it and Howard could again roll out the ball to a defender for a more patient build-up (although Jagielka was determined to hoof at every opportunity).
It looked like Everton could defend like this all day but, out of nothing, Cole clipped the ball behind the Everton defence as Mata skinned a static Coleman and planted an easy cross for Sturridge to head home. Easy peasy.
Mata tried to do it again down the Everton right seconds later and almost beat Jagielka; then Everton put together a rather determined attacking move until Coleman inexplicably gifted the ball to Mata under no pressure, with a posse of vanilla shirts waiting expectantly for a far far better final ball.
Cole fouled Hibbert and was booked, allowing Baines to put in a looping free-kick that was far too high and consequently wasted. At least they were trying to implement some build-up play but the basic mistakes belied a mindset dominated by far too much emphasis on defence in training, rather than structuring intelligent attacking moves.
Baines went in the book for blocking Sturridge and Chelsea put together a flowing move that almost came off but Hibbert's hoof again found Cahill offside. As half-time loomed, Cole won a soft free-kick off Coleman and Lampard curled in a good cross that Terry rose to head past Howard who had failed to come out and claim a bog-standard free-kick, flapping and flailing at it. Easy Peasy.
No doubt Everton's more expansive forward play in possession compared to recent games was the reason why they now went in 2-0 down at the break, and with a no doubt impossible mountain to climb. Would Moyes stick with this line-up, or attempt a kick up the arse after the break with some exciting attacking changes now the team was two goals behind? No!
From the break, Osman got in a fairly good strike that beat Cech glanced off the outside of the post. But the game then settled into an all-too-familiar pattern with Chelsea dictating the pace, probing and poking at Everton who pent most of the time chasing shadow and doing little constructive until they all too inevitably lot possession.
A rare free-kick was wasted as Baines tried a long shot and Osman followed up with a shot off target. Cometh the hour-mark... cometh the all-too predictable substitutions, Drenthe on for the exceedingly poor Coleman.
Chelsea took that as a signal to raise their game, and swept the ball forward easily again, Mata crossing well for Ramieres to finish from 2 yards despite close marking. Game, set and match. Easy peasy.
Sturridge was booked for a clear dive, then, with over 20 min left, Moyes finally accepted that Cahill was not going to break his 2011 goal drought but, with two unused and untrusted strikers on the bench, he amazingly brought on Neville in his place! We have what we hold. A 3-0 defict was clearly enough of an embarrassment for the 'fantastic' Everton manager!
Ten minutes left... okay, why not bring on one of those strikers and go 4-4-2? Er... no. We'll just swap out Saha, who had been poor. First touch for Vellios on the end of a cross from Drenthe after just 18 seconds on the field... GOAL! Would ya credit it? But he's only young, he's inexperienced, he's not ready for the Premier League...
The game drifted on, more as a training ground match, with no real drive or passion, Lampard having a good shot at Tim Howard in the 4 mins of added time. And that was it, confirming a new Everton era of poverty where they are now completely unable to compete with the moneybags teams, and limiting it to a 2-gaol deficit is considered another resounding 'success'. After all, there are plenty of sides who will go away from Stamford Bridge with much worse scorelines...
Everton's Premier League programme resumes following the break for internationals in the midsts of a challenging part of their fixture calendar. In the wake of consuective defeats to Manchester City and Liverpool, the Blues play twice in West London in the space of a week, first against Chelsea and then against Fulham, before home games loom against Chelsea (again, this time in the Cup) and Manchester United.
Much is being made in the build up for this weekend's trip to Stamford Bridge of Everton's recent record against Chelsea on the Londoners' home turf but if David Moyes's men have found out anything in the last three weeks, it's that records mean nothing in the face of questionable tactics or disgraceful refereeing.
The hoodoo Everton had over Manchester City was comfortably buried by Roberto Mancini once he was finally able to overcome Moyes's park-the-bus strategy at the Etihad Stadium and an impressive run on which the Blues avoided back-to-back League defeats was destroyed by Martin Atkinson in the Merseyside derby at the beginning of the month.
As he prepares to face a Chelsea team that has scored nine goals in its last two Premier League outings, Moyes shouldn't rely too heavily on the fact that Everton are unbeaten in this fixture over the last five seasons but he will take heart from the fact that a battling, never-say-die attitude has earned a succession of draws and a dramatic FA Cup win on penalties on this ground in recent years.
It should be noted, though, that on most of those occasions, he sent his team out with a good deal more attacking intent than was on display at City and it's probably going to take a similarly adventurous approach to get anything from this one.
That will hopefully mean a second successive start leading the line for Louis Saha rather than a reversion to Tim Cahill up top. In the more difficult circumstances of the derby, Saha wasn't able to open his account for the campaign but he scored twice against Chelsea in 2009-10 — the second goal, of course, coming after 25 seconds of the FA Cup Final — and the recent history of goals from Everton strikers in this fixture bodes well for him.
Jack Rodwell looks like he will be fit but the fitness of Leon Osman permitting Moyes may well opt for an unchanged line-up from the team that started the derby, though Royston Drenthe or Diniyar Bilyaletdinov could step in should the midfielder not be passed fit due to an injury picked up in the derby.
Chelsea, meanwhile, will give a late fitness test to John Terry who pulled out of training with a back injury on Friday.
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