As if it wasn’t bad enough that since Roman Abramovich took the helm at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea have been able to bank on significantly superior financial might, it seems as though they’re also in the process of making a stunning success of their youth development programme – something that was, for a brief time, a potential key to Everton finding a route back to competing in the upper echelons of the domestic game in the absence of a billionaire benefactor of their own.
(That has changed, of course, since Farhad Moshiri came along but with Ronald Koeman, Sam Allardyce and Steve Walsh having squandered millions on over-age mediocrity and Financial Fair Play restrictions in place, Everton still don’t have the leeway to spend their way back to the top.)
As much praise as the Blues have received for first having blooded Wayne Rooney, brought through potential stars like Ross Barkley and Tom Davies, and then made some strategic investments in the likes of John Stones, Mason Holgate and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, the Academy programme at Finch Farm appears on the evidence of today to be some way short of the one at Cobham (now that they appear to be moving away from the model of stockpiling foreign players), a fact that was ruthlessly exposed at Stamford Bridge this afternoon.
Afflicted by a number of injuries to first-choice starters, Frank Lampard was forced to hand 18-year-old Billy Gilmour his first Premier League start and, together with 21-year-old Mason Mount and the much-maligned and oft-booed Barkley, the teenager was instrumental in destroying an Everton side that was almost as unforgivably shocking as they were at Anfield against Jürgen Klopp’s kids in the FA Cup in January.
Truth be told, Gilmour looked a little nervy in the early going as Everton pressed feverishly in the opening five minutes before the home side began to take advantage of the extra man in midfield, a decisively costly miscalculation by Carlo Ancelotti. Too often, the teenage Scot, all 5' 6" of him, was that extra man, showing in space, collecting the ball, moving it on, and the contrast with Ancelotti’s comparatively invisible mid-section was stark. He showed up his older, more experienced opposite numbers badly.
Much like Seamus Coleman on his return from a long lay-off following a broken leg in which he returned with a barnstorming, adrenalin-fuelled display that quickly fell away in subsequent appearances as his lack of playing time caught up with him, André Gomes looked lead-footed and unfit. Gylfi Sigurdsson was, as is so often the case, invisible for long periods; a captain in armband only, hiding from the pass at times and gesticulating at team-mates at others in a vain attempt at leadership.
That the Icelander, 30 and with his first-choice prospects hopefully diminishing next season, has become a passenger will be news to no one but when viewed against Gilmour and Mount, it was Tom Davies who paled in the comparisons. He wasn’t helped by being out-numbered in the middle of the park and the traffic cone around which Chelsea played their triangles, particularly for the opening goal, but he looked ponderous and lost, devoid of inspiration or any ability to influence the game.
Whether Everton have failed him by not farming out on loan is a debate for another time but Mount, with the benefit of a season under Lampard at promotion-chasing Derby, has emerged as one of the most exciting prospects for club and country around and it was he who opened the floodgates for Chelsea with a quarter of an hour gone.
He might have got on the scoresheet as early as the seventh minute but he was foiled by a good Jordan Pickford save but he beat the England keeper with a drilled shot inside the near post. Whereas Everton were abysmal in their distribution and pedestrian in their approach play, Chelsea were quick, slick and penetrating and when Davies was caught between Gilmour and Mount causing him to lose track of the latter, the ball was worked to Pedro who found Mount’s run around the edge of the box and he did the rest with a smart finish.
Four minutes later, after Richarlison had reminded Kepa in the home goal that he was there with a strong but ambitious shot from the angle, Everton were opened up by Barkley’s ball down the channel to Willian who out-stripped Holgate for pace and fired across Pickford and the keeper palmed his shot away.
It only delayed the inevitable by a couple of minutes, however. Preferred to Yerry Mina for a second successive game after performing impressively against Manchester United last weekend, Michael Keane, ill-suited to playing a high defensive line, made for an awkward partnership with Holgate on this occasion and when the ball was played in behind him in the 21st minute, Pedro expertly beat the offside trap, racing into a one-on-one situation with Pickford that was only going to end one way. 2-0 Chelsea.
Any hope that Everton might have had in changing the direction of the contest effectively evaporated five minutes after that when Dominic Calvert-Lewin missed as good a chance as he could have hoped for to halve the deficit. Richarlison did well to play him in behind the defence but with just Kepa to beat Calvert-Lewin badly scuffed his attempt to clip it over the keeper and it bobbled disappointingly wide.
It might have provided a catalyst for the Blues but, in all honesty, it’s unlikely. Bereft of any fight, they were that bad.
Bernard, playing in a less familiar role wide on the right looked all at sea and was unable to dictate anything. He picked up a knee injury on the stroke of half-time which might have influenced his manager’s decision to withdraw him at the interval but he was as poor as he was at West Ham when he was hooked after 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, for 75 minutes at least before he improved somewhat in the closing stages, Djibril Sidibé put in one of the most atrocious displays by an Everton player in living memory. Clumsy, wasteful and ineffective, the Frenchman will, if there is any sense in the corridors at Goodison, have written off any hope he had of staying beyond the end of the season.
Still, there were glimmers of a way back into the game for Everton late in the first half but, as is so often the case, they let themselves down with poor decision-making in the final third. Richarlison seized on Kurt Zouma’s sliced clearance but ignored Sigurdsson next to him even though the midfielder had a clear sight of goal and ended up running down a blind alley. Then Chelsea gave the ball away cheaply in their own half but instead of charging for goal, Calvert-Lewin played it backwards and from a promising position, the ball ended up in Everton’s half with Holgate.
If Ancelotti had hoped to have inspired his charges at half-time and given Chelsea more to think about in the second half with the introduction of Theo Walcott for Bernard, he was to be sorely mistaken because the pattern of the first period continued into the second.
This time, it took the hosts less than six minutes to score. Everton stood off as Chelsea worked a patient passing move across the edge of the visitors’ box and with Holgate and Keane drawn to one side leaving Lucas Digne caught in two minds whether to close Willian down or cover the run of Cesar Azpilicueta on the overlap, the Brazilian took advantage of the gap that opened up ahead of him and rifled home from 20 yards.
Then, after Pedro had easily drifted past Sidibé and seen a clipped shot deflect over, Everton failed to close down a short routine from the resulting corner and paid the price. Willian crossed dangerously from the Chelsea left, Holgate lost a physical duel with Olivier Giroud who lunged to meet the ball and steered it home from close range.
It could have been worse than 4-0. Pickford did brilliantly to deny Pedro after Kepa had spilled a Richarlison shot at the other end. Then, after Walcott had wasted a perfect chance to put a goal on a gilded platter for substitute Moise Kean, Gomes lost control of the ball in midfield and was robbed by Gilmour, goal number five only being avoided by Sidibé’s saving challenge.
Azpilicueta would force one last save from Pickford, a one-handed stop to turn the ball behind but Everton were just praying for the final whistle and the chance to get back on the bus to Liverpool where, hopefully, a good deal of soul-searching and introspection will be had before the Merseyside derby in eight days’ time.
Not that it was needed, but this latest embarrassment on the home turf of the so-called “big six”, a psychological millstone that gets heavier with each passing season, was another unforgiving reminder that too many players in this Everton simply aren’t good enough. Not even close.
On those all-too-rare occasions when everything comes together, as they did in the reverse fixture against Chelsea amid the unbridled passion and inherently short-lived inspiration of Duncan Ferguson’s first match in charge, this team can give the illusion that they’re capable of taking Everton where we want to go but it’s days like this that expose the size of the task ahead of Ancelotti and Marcel Brands.
The harsh reality is that while Ancelotti will acknowledge that his faith in the 4-4-2 system that has served him pretty well at Goodison so far was misplaced today, at least half the team that took the field today isn’t good enough. There are key signings that need to be made down the spine of the team and some decisions have to be made about players who come in and out of the line-up without consistently delivering.
The reality check that was delivered today should put paid to any thoughts of Europe for another season. Take stock, blood some of the promising younger players like Kean and Anthony Gordon and continue plotting the summer transfer business that simply must ship out some of the dead wood and bring in the quality required for this club to make the step up within the timescale Ancelotti envisages.
An absolutely dismal display from Everton, nothing but a total embarrassment for Carlo Ancelotti returning to Stamford Bridge.
Bernard returns to Everton's team as manager Carlo Ancelotti makes three changes for his return to Stamford Bridge. Lucas Digne is fit to play following a two-game layoff and Djibril Sidibe starts in place of the injured Seamus Coleman.
Baines, Walcott and Iwobi are all on the bench joined by Antony Gordon.
For Chelsea, Ross Barkley and Kurt Zouma are in the starting line-up, Frank Lampard making 6 changes from his last Premier League game, including the 18-year-old starlet Billy Gilmour making his first Premier League start along with the dangerous Mason Mount.
Sigurdsson kicked off but Everton were a little scrappy, Willian profiting with an advance down the right. An attempted back-heel by Barkley that failed drew derisive jeers from the travelling Evertonians.
From a contested drop ball, Willian got free and crossed for Mount whose first-time shot — he caught it superbly on the volley — hit Pickford's launched body, an amazing save of a certain goal.
Digne pulled off a good long throw deep into the Chelsea area but it was cleared. And Chelsea again after a horrible sloppy ball from Sidibé. Chelsea were cutting through Everton's midfield with far too much ease but hesitated thanks to Barkley's uncertainty.
But Mount then showed how to do it off a brilliant pass from Barkely as he danced into the Everton area and lashed his shot past Pickford into the corner of the net to give Chelsea the lead they had been threatening from the start, with Everton still half-asleep.
Good defending from Holgate kept Willian in check, and prevented any further threat, but something really needed to change as Everton moved the ball around unconvincingly, not threatening anything. Instead, it was Barkley who released, and Willian got past Holgate, Pickford down well to stop. Barkley himself then had a pop, wide of the angle, as Everton had no answer, looking pretty awful.
Barkley smelled blood, a brilliant ball forward for Pedro, and it was 2-0. Just utterly criminal stuff from Everton, who simply had no idea.
A brilliant chance for Everton created by Richarlison, but his typical inability to finish, it needed a dinked shot over Kepa but he stabbed it wide. A terrible miss.
More Chelsea attacks, but at least Pickford kept his eye on a deep cross and stole it off Giroud's head. Everton looked to create something but Sidibé was easily double-teamed. Richarlison was next to be brick-walled as Ancelotti's men continued to be little short of an absolute disgrace to the great man. What on earth is wrong with them today?
Bernard tried to feed Davies, overlapping as a right-winger, but it was a hospital ball and Everton were again pushed back, Sidibe fouling Pedro, the free-kick well collected by Pickford. Everton were summed up by Holgate playing out the back to Digne on the wing, and him putting it out of play. Such shockingly poor football from Everton.
More poor passing allowed Chelsea to build again and fire at Pickford. It was painful to watch. Chelsea won their first corner of the game, collected well by Pickford but Gomes mugged by Giroud, unfairly.
Everton had a little spell of possession but it went nowhere fast, and Chelsea soon had possession again, Willian almost embarrassing Sidibe. He then managed to embarrass himself, letting an easy ball roll under his foot and out. Richarlison was gifted the ball but Ruddiger recovered well to deny him.
A mistake by Willian should have allowed Everton to break but they were too slow to take advantage, and the play was back into their own half. An absolutely dismal half from Everton, who showed no signs of life whatsoever.
Bernard, who had been poor as ever away from home, picked up a knock before the break and was replaced by the equally ineffective Theo Walcott for the second half. Everton saw a bit more of the ball but, other than that, Chelsea were still very much in pcontrrol. Walcott is yet to have a whiff.
It didn't take long for the 3rd goal to file in, Barkley again with the assist, simple this time for Willian to lash the ball along the grouund past Pickford, wjo was screaming because nobdy even attempted to close him down. It was simply shocking.
Pedro waltzed in from the left, looking for the 4th, but spooned his shot over Pickford's goal. Gomes was booked for fouling Mount, or disputing the corner, Giroud then got the 4th from a corner, the ball falling right onto his toe with Everton defenders statuesque.
At the other end an almost unrecognizable strike form Richarlison, straight at Kepa. Barkley then tried for another assist, dummying the ball for Pedro who smashes his shot at a nice height for Pickford to save. Tom Davies, who had been terrible, was replaced by Moise Kean Barkley then tried to score from a long-distance free-kick but it was easy for Pickford. /p>
Everton won their first corner, but could only mess that up, curling it across the goal line. Calvert-Lewin got into it with Ruddiger over something and was spoken to by referee Friend. Pedro drove into the Everton area and fed Barkley who could only shoot at Pickford.
Anjorin came on for Willian and immediately went for a worldy, missing by miles. Calvert-Lewin was pulled off to give Anthony Gordon a debut and 15 minutes to get used to what it feels like losing ignominiously in the capital yet again.
Digne put in a decent cross that fell for for Richarlison from a free-kick but he was immediately blocked; however, Sidibe got around and slipped a good ball just too far away from Walcott to beat Kepa.
Another speedy attack from Chelsea, Gilmour playing in Anjorin who took too long and was upended. Richarlison was dragged down by Zouma as he tried to break, and the former Everton loanee got a yellow card for his troubles.
Barkley stroked the ball across to Azpilicueta, who had a shot that Pickford could only palm behind for a corner as Chelsea continued to toy with the demoralized Everton players, as another bright young thing came on for Chelsea.
Holgate fouled Broja to pick up a yellow card as this farcically embarrassing display by Ancelotti's hapless charges ground out its final painful minutes. Utterlt shameful, especially from that useless 'captain', Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Kick-off: 2pm, Sunday 8 March 2020
Chelsea (4-3-3): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rüdiger, Zouma [Y:83'], Alonso; Barkley, Gilmour, Mount (60' James); Willian (70' Anjorin), Giroud (86' Broja), Pedro.
Subs: Caballero, Christensen, Tomori, Batshuayi.
Everton (4-4-2): Pickford, Sidibe, Holgate, Keane, Digne, Sigurdsson, Gomes [Y:52'], Davies (58' Kean), Bernard (46' Walcott), Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin (76' Gordon).
Subs not Used: Stekelenburg, Baines, Mina, Iwobi.
Referee: Kevin Friend
VAR: Martin Atkinson
Everton are back in London to face down another away-day demon when they play Chelsea in a Sunday afternoon kick-off.
Of the unwanted barren stretches without a win on the grounds of the so-called “big six”, the Blues' record at Stamford Bridge stands as the longest at 26 years. It was 1994 when Paul Rideout struck the winner for Joe Royle's team and since then, the closest an Everton side has come to beating Chelsea on their own turf was under Roberto Martinez when a controversial stoppage-time equaliser ensured the game ended 3-3.
Carlo Ancelotti remarked before the recent visit to Arsenal's Emirates Stadium that his new club's poor sequence of results in fixtures like this was enough to make him cry. He wasn't able to secure a win in that match despite Dominic Calvert-Lewin handing him a first-minute lead but he will be hoping for better when he returns to the scene of his Premier League and FA Cup double in 2010.
The Italian says that he is excited to return to a place that gave him some “fantastic memories” but becoming the first Everton manager to taste victory in this fixture for over two and a half decades will be uppermost in his mind.
He will be without Seamus Coleman who suffered a soft-tissue injury in the first half of last weekend's controversial 1-1 draw with Manchester United but has Djibril Sidibé ready to step in as a ready-made replacement.
On the opposite side of defence, Lucas Digne is available again after missing the last two games with a minor injury but the Frenchman would do well to dislodge Leighton Baines who has been excellent as his deputy.
At centre-half, Ancelotti has another decision to make given how well Michael Keane performed alongside Mason Holgate against Man Utd but he could see fit to add Yerry Mina's height and threat from corners back into the team.
It also remains to be seen whether he persists with the three-man central midfield unit that he used last Sunday, where Tom Davies and Gylfi Sigurdsson at times looked an awkward fit. The boss as shown great faith in the latter and, with Bernard most often used at home, it could be that the Icelander continues in the starting XI.
For Chelsea, Jorginho is suspended and Frank Lampard, who will be reunited with his former manager, has Mateo Kovacic ruled out with an Achilles tendon injury, Willian also doubtful with a similar foot problem, as well as fitness concerns over Tammy Abraham, Andreas Christensen, N'Golo Kanté and Callum Hudson-Odoi.
Christian Pulisic and Ruben Loftus-Cheek could pass fitness tests but there is speculation that fullback Marcos Alonso could start in midfield, with former Blue Ross Barkley and youth sensation Billy Gilmour also in the mix for selection.
Given how well Chelsea performed at home against Spurs two weeks ago and then against a strong Liverpool line-up in the FA Cup, this looks likely to be the stern test for Everton that it usually is.
Those injuries that Lampard is having to contend with might play into Ancelotti's hands as he seeks to pick up points after taking just one from the last six in Everton's quest for European qualification.
Kick-off: 2pm, Sunday, 8 March, 2020
Referee: Kevin Friend
VAR: Martin Atkinson
Last Time: Chelsea 0-0 Everton
Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Sidibé, Mina, Holgate, Baines, Gomes, Delph, Sigurdsson, Walcott, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin