Chelsea 2 - 0 Everton
From the perspective of what a win would have meant — a Premier League record 10th away win, a first win at Stamford Bridge in 27 years and ending this round of matches by sitting in fourth place — this 2-0 defeat to Chelsea was, naturally, disappointing. Had Everton won this, they really would have elevated themselves to the status of bona fide top-four contenders this season.
This was a fourth-versus-fifth match-up in name only, though. In reality, on current form, the Londoners are probably the second-best team in the country and the Toffees, patched up and fatigued, are arguably positioned above their true level in the context of recent performances — if not results — and that was ultimately reflected in both the lopsided nature of the contest and the final score.
Had it not been for Jordan Pickford, it might easily have ended in similar fashion to the 4-0 result in favour of Chelsea that played out exactly a year ago today; and yet, with a lot more defensive solidity and a bit more courage and boldness going the other way, Everton might have got something out of this.
Unfortunately, playing their third game in the space of seven days and with Abdoulaye Doucouré and James Rodriguez in particular absent through injury, it was always going to be a tall order. It felt like a stretch too far for the players and what made it that much more difficult was that they came up against the Chelsea that we all expected to see towards the beginning of the season following their massive summer expenditure.
Indeed, Thomas Tuchel was able to make five changes to the team that started the 1-0 win at Liverpool in midweek without seeing any drop-off in quality in his side. The same could not be said for Carlo Ancelotti who was able to welcome Allan back to the starting XI but Tom Davies was only deemed fit enough to take a spot on the substitutes’ bench and Seamus Coleman’s continued absence meant that Alex Iwobi was named at right wing-back. The Nigerian has fulfilled the role before but it ended up being a miscalculation against this opposition.
It was from attacking down that weak right flank that Chelsea scored both their goals and though they had plenty of joy scything through other areas of Ancelotti’s back line, it was those two moments of vulnerability that proved to be decisive. And with so little adventure going forward, at least until it was too, Everton really only had an opening for Richarlison in the 57th minute that the Brazilian badly miscued to show for their attacking endeavours
Chelsea dominated the ball but didn’t come close to troubling Jordan Pickford until a quarter of an hour gone when Jorginho’s volley off a headed clearance from a corner skidded a few feet wide of the post.
Everton’s first real of pressure around the 25th-minute mark ended with a fairly tame header by Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Lucas Digne fired a direct free-kick off the top of the wall after Richarlison had won a foul on the edge of the box but they fell behind just past the half-hour mark.
The understanding between Iwobi, deployed in a right-wing role, and Mason Holgate, playing on the right side of a central defensive three, broke down badly allowing Callum Hudson-Odoi to break into space behind them, feed Marcos Alonso and when Kai Havertz tried to steer the Spaniard’s cross home, the ball hit Ben Godfrey and bounced past Pickford to make it 1-0.
Alonso came close to doubling the lead when he was put clean through too easily with a ball over the top by Andreas Christensen but Pickford did superbly to deny him with a one-handed save, while André Gomes had a low shot from 20 yards comfortably saved by Eduard Mendy on the stroke of half-time.
Just a goal down at the break, Everton were very much in the contest but needed to be bolder going forward if they were to get back into it in the second half. They weathered an early storm when Havertz controlled Hudson-Odoi’s chip and fired past Pickford but his goal was disallowed for handball, Reece James dragged a shot across goal and Pickford Hudson-Odoi himself by palming his rasping shot over the bar.
In between, Everton’s best move of the game thus far came via Davies who had replaced the ineffective Iwobi in the 56th minute and added a lot more bite and desire to move the ball forward. The substitute fed Gylfi Sigurdsson who then found Richarlison but the Brazilian’s sliced his shot horribly wide when he should at least have hit the target.
With 63 minutes gone, Havertz was played in behind the Blues’ defence and was felled by Pickford who probably had little option but to attempt to take the ball off his feet, handing Jorginho the chance to make it 2-0 from the spot. The Brazilian sent the keeper the wrong way and effectively killed the game.
Ancelotti replaced Sigurdsson with Josh King and then Gomes with Bernard and the visitors came out of their shell a bit in the closing stages without ever threatening to affect the scoreline. With a better final ball, a problem that undermined Everton’s efforts for much of the game, they might have pushed Chelsea back in their heels a bit but Blues were wasteful in key areas.
Instead, it was left to Pickford to ensure the margin of defeat didn’t get any bigger, denying Timo Werner after he had rolled Godfrey and then pulling off an impressive double-save to keep first the German out and then N’Golo Kanté. Substitute Mason Mount had one more decent effort from distance that Pickford pushed away before referee David Coote called time on Everton’s first defeat on the road since the start of November.
This was always going to be a tough ask so the result isn’t all that depressing; it’s the run of three games coming up, with the FA Cup quarter-final against Manchester City thrown in as well, that could end being the difference between European qualification or not. Take nine points from Burnley, Crystal Palace and Brighton and progress to the last four of the cup and a thrilling end to the campaign is in reach.
Reader Comments (49)
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1 Posted 09/03/2021 at 08:06:26
2 Posted 09/03/2021 at 08:06:46
Sigurdson works very hard, but hes just to slow for this level,(imo) Iwobi, offers zero commitment, Gomes was trying - but getting nowhere, and the game also looked to fast for Allen at times, although he did start to get to grips with it until he tired, and at least got close enough to win quite a few tackles after a very slow start.
Holgate, got exposed at times, Digne likewise, but we defended well for the most part, but never had enough quality, or enough speed, in either mind or body, and Richarlison also lacked quality, when the chance arose.
I never expected anything from this game, especially when I saw our midfield, so now I just hope Ancellotti, can freshen us up enough for Saturday, when we finally reach the end of another grueling schedule, before it starts again!
3 Posted 09/03/2021 at 08:37:49
Against Chelsea, Everton where much improved mentality wise on the Man City game. In fact if Everton had that mentality in the Man City game it would have been a different result. Evertons midfield was pacer, than expected. With a better run of the ball or a early goal they could have beat either Chelsea or Man City.
I don't buy into Chelsea and Man City being outstanding superior teams. They are both going to suffer defeats before the end of the season. Ancelotti has brought Everton a long way.
I would like to think that the FA Cup fixture at Goodson will be a different game and the four point gap will be bridged smashing the Premier League illusion of a pull away top four, as emerged again from the Media after this game.
4 Posted 09/03/2021 at 08:51:42
Through youth development and massive spending they've assembled a superb squad. Our squad is £500m behind theirs. This squad depth really starts to make a difference over the marathon of a season.
Whatever we spend this summer, they will spend more. So even to stay in touch we need a good recruitment strategy. To gain ground we need a very good summer.
5 Posted 09/03/2021 at 09:00:34
Move on. “Take nine points from Burnley, Crystal Palace and Brighton and progress to the last four of the cup and a thrilling end to the campaign is in reach.” When you say it quickly it sounds entirely feasible.
6 Posted 09/03/2021 at 09:22:53
But the positives from yesterday were immense.
We didn't collapse after conceding the 2nd goal.
A better first touch and we could have been 1-1 when Charlie was put through.
Pickford made one mistake for the penalty but otherwise continued to be outstanding.
We got beaten by a better side. It happens. Even Citeh can be beaten as proved on Sunday. This was not a Fulham or Newcastle performance.
It was a level of performance that would probably have turned those apologetic displays into points.
Take the medicine, learn the lesson and move on.
7 Posted 09/03/2021 at 10:31:58
Coleman, Davis, Daucoure and Jamas mave have started if fit and that would have made a big difference. Davis looks like he should be ok for the weekend and if we can get Coleman and or James in contention that would be a great help.
If, we have to go with last night's starting 11 for the rest of the season then we will lose more than we will win which would be a pity and shows the scale of the job still needed to be done.
We are a work in progress but moving in the right direction.
8 Posted 09/03/2021 at 10:49:34
We so far have done well and there is still a lot of points still to play for, so we will just have to see where we finish at the end of the season, Carlo targeted Europe and we are still on course to qualify for a European place.
I just hope in the summer is allowed to buy the type of players that will allow us to play on the front foot more than we have this season. Apart from a right back I think our defence is fine. Probably need a midfielder who can create along the lines of Grealish, Mount or Maddison, I am sure Carlo will have players in mind. I think its up front were we need big improvements as having Iwobi or Bernard playing wide is like having no option at all. DCL has made huge improvements to his game, his strength has been in and around the 6 yard box, but he doesn't create much and he doesnt create many openings for himself. So we either play as a team getting plenty of balls into the box for DCL to convert or go and get another striker to give DCL competition. The same with Richarlison if he is fit he plays and with only Iwobi and Bernard able to play wide he has virtually no competition for his place. So for me hopefully 2 forwards and a fullback in the summer, which will allow us to build on this season.
9 Posted 09/03/2021 at 11:24:11
No need to be too down about it, dust ourselves down, get organised and get the show on the road again. If we win our games in hand were only a couple of points behind Leicester who are the most vulnerable, so we need to finish as strongly as we can.
if ultimately we do fall short we need to keep up the decent form so this season can be catagorised as a good stepping stone. Next season, with two or three signings, we can improve again.
10 Posted 09/03/2021 at 11:39:17
It was telling who Carlo substituted as they are the players who need moving on and replacing. Unfortunately one of the subs is another who needs moving on and one other is a loanee. Only Davies is worth his salt.
We also desperately need a right back. Holgate turns in some decent displays but isn't constant and should only be considered a bench/squad player.
For us to be challenging for the top four we need 4 or 5 good quality players, but with finances as they are I don't see that happening. How come the academy don't provide more quality, others seem to do it okay?
The encouraging thing is that you don't need a billion pound team to reach the top, Leicester have proved that.
Onwards to the next winnable game, Burnley this weekend.
11 Posted 09/03/2021 at 12:45:13
I think that game shows us were we are at, given our injury list. If we get key players back and go on a run in our remaining fixtures, then we have a chance of top six.
12 Posted 09/03/2021 at 16:33:36
The front two are a handful for most defences, but they get poor service from what is a very stationary midfield. Allan is a good defensive block, but isn't mobile enough for any more extensive role, Doucoure has a great engine, but isn't always the most astute of players, Rodriguez lacks an engine and is not exactly robust, but has a great brain and skilful feet, Tom Davies has a great heart, but looks lost at times, Gomes has skill, but lacks the motor and gives away far too many stupid free kicks. Sigurdsson has skill but tires and again lacks any degree of toughness. Iwobi and Bernard have some skills and ought to be bit part players.
For all Premier League players consistency is what distinguishes the top players from the rest. All have skill, but applying their talent is most games and against different types of opposition is what lifts the exceptional from the run-of-the-mill and our midfield is distinctly ordinary. All have good games, few have a consistency that would make it possible to build a midfield round them. I had great hopes of Rodriguez and his skill can take my breath away, but he fades from the play for long periods in games and is useless at helping to regain possession. We could cater for him if it wasn't for Gomes and Sigurdsson being equally poor at regaining the ball when we lose possession.
A back four with four in midfield suits our midfield personnel, whereas our defenders are better with a back three and Digne and Coleman( what did Kenny do wrong incidentally?) as wing backs. We haven't really sorted that issue of our best formation out.
13 Posted 09/03/2021 at 17:19:20
Chelsea could have taken us to the cleaners down that flank but didnt see it until the second half when they got the penalty. I do believe if it was 1-0 going into the final 10 minutes we may have rescued an undeserved point but it wasnt to be.
I agree with those who have said at least the overall performance was decent and it was the difference in quality that made the difference.
Now onto a bruiser with Burnley.
14 Posted 09/03/2021 at 17:28:37
With better players Id love to play the system Ancellotti is trying to instill into us, but as Ive said previously, I hope the team that finished last night, starts the game on Saturday?
15 Posted 09/03/2021 at 18:13:16
As a 10?
16 Posted 09/03/2021 at 18:18:48
Unfortunately it was the Reidy who chased Maradona.
17 Posted 09/03/2021 at 18:35:12
He hasnt played there for Everton, and although Im not sure hes brave enough, its definitely a fetch, and carry and a little give and go position imo, so it might just bring a bit out of a player, who mostly looks frightened and disinterested to me.
People say that not many London footballers settle up north, so maybe it was a case of Brands, being new to his environment and not being aware of this, but Ive been told it wasnt just the supporters, who were shocked by this last minute deal, but maybe Brands saw value in a young English born player? Even if hes a Nigerian, when it comes to international football!
18 Posted 09/03/2021 at 18:43:33
19 Posted 09/03/2021 at 18:43:37
When we signed him, Brands was quoted as saying he was signed to challenge Sigurdsson. Silva said he expected to play him coming in off the left.
So well planned and delivered!
20 Posted 09/03/2021 at 18:52:38
Imo its the only position he would have any chance of affecting our game.
Hes got quick feet and likes to carry the ball, play little one twos.
I have seen him, on too few occasions admittedly, play little clever balls in and around the box.
Will never make it as a wide player so is he worth a go if James is out injured?
James first on the sheet at 10 for me when fit btw
21 Posted 09/03/2021 at 19:01:11
The lad has to earn the right to play in a position not just shrug his shoulders and take to social media.
We are stuck with him for the duration I am afraid.
22 Posted 09/03/2021 at 19:20:47
Iwobi has definitely got ability, you only have to see the goal he scored at Wolves, to see this, but something is stopping him pushing on, although he never looks happy or hungry.
I said how much Chelseas work rate impressed me, but the older I get, the more I become aware, of how just how valuable working hard really is, because anyone can do something - sometimes, but to be successful, youve got to be able to go again constantly.
23 Posted 09/03/2021 at 21:07:53
Let's stay steady. There is a great deal to play for. Martinez said something about us not too long ago which struck me as correct. He said that Evertonians need to learn that not every defeat is a disaster. Ancelotti said something similar last night.
I am guilty of meltdowns when we lose and indeed had another one after yesterday's defeat, ranting and moaning about this player or that, to anyone in my family who would listen (no-one).
But that reaction only helps our opponents and we need to stop it. I sense that some of us may be starting to give up when there is no good reason to do so.
24 Posted 09/03/2021 at 21:13:45
I just can not see us taking all nine points against Burnley, Palace & Brighton, as for city cup game we just have to hope we play out of our skins and they are shite on the night - obviously I believe !
Looking ahead to the new season, this is Ancelotti's third or is it fourth transfer window so what is it they say - every manager needs at least five to six windows to mould his own team, I hope he and Brands get's it right!
Speedy right winger / top midfielder creator / right back / centre forward to stick a bit of pressure on CL ( don't think King is the answer ) is the very minimum to keep us going in the right direction in my opinion.
If any takers for Holgate at decent money I would sell him.
A shame for when I first saw him play in the mini derby way back he looked better than Stones, I was thinking what a player we are going to have here, but it has not turned out that way.
Switches off too often, lack of awareness and worst of all HE thinks he is better than he is.
Iowbi, Bernard offer nothing to the squad and should be sold if anybody wants them.
I doubt very much Kean will want to return to us.
Tuson, Kenny, Walcott, Bolasie, Vesic, will all go, the latter three all OOC.
Will Ancelotti listen to offers for Sigurdsson and Gomes depending on who he can bring in.
Rodriquez was a fantastic signing for us this season, already proved he is a game changer but he is such a luxury player - when he doesn't fancy it we are we are just not good enough to carry him in my opinion.
If Rodriquez decides to stay we need better players who can keep the ball, actually we need better players anyway!
I think with last nights result top 4 is now a dream, top 6 maybe.
25 Posted 10/03/2021 at 09:38:26
26 Posted 10/03/2021 at 11:18:38
I would also imagine there are one or two who play regularly who he might also not be that upset about if they left. The problem being that the one he might like to keep is Kean but it looks like the lad wants away, and the ones he is perfectly happy to see leave will only bring in minimal amounts of money.
So how does he get the quality additions he would like with probably only the sale of Kean bringing in significant money for him to spend?
Seeing that our Director of Football has said that he believes that the January transfer window is not the time to buy players, and seeing that we have only bought young Branthwaite and in this window taken King on loan, I think we can assume that Carlo will only make first-team improvements in the summer. So those claiming he has had 3 transfer windows are correct. Given Brands's position, I think in all fairness Carlo has had only one proper window so far.
27 Posted 10/03/2021 at 11:52:46
Iwobi, Gomes, Bernard, King and Delph struggle against virtually any team. Sigurdsson struggles against any team who defend deep and Coleman cant seem to play consecutive games anymore.
Thats 9 senior back up players (including Mina and Gbamin) for the entire squad (unless Ive missed someone) and Delph & Gbamin are permanently injured anyway.
Its no wonder we struggle when we have a spate of games.
28 Posted 10/03/2021 at 12:03:22
We made an initial step summer 2020. Summer 2021 will see the wage bill reduced by various departures and the kitty bolstered by the sale of Kean for circa £50m hopefully.
If you want a really progressive transfer policy that can allow you to quickly accumulate very high quality at low cost, look at Leipzig. That does mean buying almost exclusively those age 21 and under - with transfer fees of between £10m and £20m per player.
If that's too much to stomach then look at Leicester, very largely buying those age under 23 - with fees between about £15m and about £35m.
Indeed transfers of ready made players is even too much for the likes of Real Madrid these days, whose next lot of Galacticos may well be the three Brazilian teenagers Vinicius, Rodrygo and Reinier.
29 Posted 10/03/2021 at 12:33:35
I think, when Brands was first appointed, that was a route he wanted Everton to go down, but successive managers have slightly altered that approach somewhat. We have bought Branthwaite, who falls into that category of identifying a talented youngster, who with natural progression will give us yet another talented youngster; the same can be said of Godfrey, another Brands purchase.
But today, most clubs are well aware of young talent worldwide, so it doesn't matter where these young players are playing at present, many clubs will be watching their progress. So it's vitally important that you employ talented scouts from all over the world to maximise that strategy if that's the route the club wishes to pursue.
But even buying promising youngsters can create just as many problems as buying proven players. Young players need time to progress and managers don't often get time, hence why most managers would prefer to buy a finished article rather than take a chance with a youngster.
The one thing I haven't mentioned is producing players from our own academy. Again, looking at most Premier League clubs, producing a youngster from academy to first team regular is becoming a rarity. I know some years back Keegan decided to scrap the Newcastle academy and many castigated him for it, and they restarted their academy but, as I say, he may have been right.
I do find the idea of kids aged 7 joining clubs' academies totally wrong. I don't think academies should be allowed to take kids till they are 15. Also, when these young kids join academies, they are told they can't play school football with their friends... how can anybody say that's a good thing?
30 Posted 10/03/2021 at 13:32:15
31 Posted 10/03/2021 at 14:57:21
32 Posted 10/03/2021 at 15:28:52
I don't blame Unsworth because I think he has helped develop the careers of often limited players. The problem is that the technical ability and tactical intelligence needs to be engrained well before Unsworth gets his hands on the players at age 17, 18, 19 etc. That's why it took Chelsea 10 years to build the generation of Abraham, Mount, Tomori, James and Hudson-Odoi. You have to start very young. I read once that a top class player must perfect his technique by age 8 - after that it is more about integrating that technique into a team / tactical structure. I think that's the approach Ajax takes but someone may be able to correct me on that.
I am hopeful we're doing a lot of the right things after the restructure Brands has put in place.
33 Posted 10/03/2021 at 15:34:46
34 Posted 10/03/2021 at 16:17:53
Yes it was AJax who started taking kids into their academy at 7/8 but I am still of the opinion that that is counter productive to a kids development. As for a player having to perfect his technique, well you don't need coaches for you to perfect your technique. The great players learned to perfect their technique playing in the street or on uneven playing fields, look at all the great South American kids didn't learn playing on perfectly manicured pitches, but on waste ground, were the ball would come to them at different heights and they would learn their first touch from those experiences. I don't for one minute believe that Messi or Ronaldo needed coaching at a young age they were just naturally gifted players.
35 Posted 10/03/2021 at 18:42:53
In a couple of intense games, notable absentees were Dom and James. Notable presences were Coleman and Mina.
36 Posted 10/03/2021 at 18:59:15
South America has also moved on, I believe, with high quality training and coaching facilities. And quite a few middle class types like Kaka and Leonardo who would have grown up far from the favelas. There are some pretty sophisticated outfits in West Africa now too.
I think we're doing a massive disservice to young lads in the North West if we don't offer the same or better. Ajax work hard on life skills and education too so as not to disadvantage the kids who don't make the grade.
37 Posted 10/03/2021 at 19:42:04
Firstly on Chelsea, yes it was an eye opener as to how our decent 14 (if all fit) is good, but our squad is still some way off. Nothing we didn't know. But, we are very much still in the mix this season with points to play for. No point dwelling on a defeat that we can't really complain about. Look forward, move on.
The Ajax and Dutch system produces quality players consistently because the focus is on development versus results (amongst other things obviously). They don't obsess with results throughout the youth years. I know that sounds contradictory as you want to install winning mentality into players, but that's a big part of their philosophy. Learn to play the game and the results will come when it matters, not when you're 13. Also, they don't shoehorn players into positions from a young age and deliberately rotate as part of that development.
And, as with Germany, forget Ajax, every village team has decent facilities from grass roots up. All of them train on clay pitches, most don't play on grass until they get to about 14 or in big fixtures (a local cup semi-final or final for example). This teaches them to stay on their feet and pass the ball / look after the ball from a very young age.
We are getting better, but still too many of our young players don't have access to adequate facilities and play football on mud let alone grass. They have to resort to lumping the ball down the pitch because trying to pass it is a forlorn hope. Couple that with being egged on by crazed, pitch encroaching parents screaming at the referee. When I played as a 10 year old in Germany, no parents, just coaches.
I've said before, my additional fear with our elite academy system is that it is an enclosed bubble. Young players that enter it are detached from reality. I don't know if it is the same now, but in Germany the younger level youth teams used to play local teams on a regular basis. There was an element of reality for those lads.
There, I said you triggered me!!
38 Posted 10/03/2021 at 21:07:52
39 Posted 10/03/2021 at 21:13:48
40 Posted 10/03/2021 at 21:38:08
41 Posted 10/03/2021 at 21:46:41
As can be normal, Dom and James on light training to preserve them for the weekend.
Seamus and Mina in the frame for Burnley?
42 Posted 10/03/2021 at 22:00:02
43 Posted 10/03/2021 at 22:21:23
Do as I say, not as I do, with my own view being, that for such a footballing mad nation, we are sadly lacking, when it comes to natural talent, because our natural talents are rarely nurtured in the correct way?
44 Posted 10/03/2021 at 22:53:38
The continentals are not necessarily better than us and we have equal natural talent as you say, it's just how we develop that talent that sees us fall short of countries like Holland and Germany. Thats both at club level and on a national scale for those who care for international football.
45 Posted 12/03/2021 at 10:52:59
46 Posted 12/03/2021 at 11:09:18
It comes down to what is Unsworths job.
Is he there to bring first team players through from the U23s?
If so you hsve to look at how many have come through under his tutelage.
47 Posted 12/03/2021 at 12:15:20
At seven and upwards there is no finer game to play and enjoy, they are not young soldiers to be regimental figures, I loved every game of football I played as a kid, on the streets and waste grounds of Liverpool, hated it when it was too dark to carry on, why cant these kids enjoy the pleasure of playing football while learning at the same time.
Finch Farm has some of the best facilities in Europe to learn to be a good class footballer, maybe they are short of top class coaches, at junior level, to match up with the facilities.
48 Posted 12/03/2021 at 18:43:53
He observed the young kids (10-12 years old) would beat the Dutch comfortably but, further up the age range, the gap narrowed with our 16-year-olds were routinely outclassed.
Better long-term coaching with an emphasis on skill, technique and footballing intelligence appeared to pay dividends.
We buy in technique because we don't develop skill in this country; the national sides evidence the dire state when stripped of continental comrades, playing like 3-legged donkeys afflicted with emphysema.
But we should not blame youth team coaches; they produce for the UK market and spectators in this country will not tolerate Euro football chess synonymous with a good first touch and accurate passing.
"Up and at 'em" like Viking, thug rapists is what we really want and is why some feel an inherent desire to invade York.
49 Posted 12/03/2021 at 23:27:14
Barry, exactly that. Stereotyping, but that goes back to my point about obsessing with results at a young age. You can win the U12s league by simply picking the bigger, quicker and more powerful lads. The laws of physics takes over. However as you approach the U16s, those players are no longer good because guess what; they were not coached and their size, pace and power is no longer good enough to overcome technically superior players.
Sorry to pick on him, but I give you Walcott vice Messi. Extremis I accept, but Walcott typifies the type of player we produce. And I stand by my thought that had Messi grown up in England he would never have made it as he'd have been thrown into the "to small & lightweight" bucket.
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