Everton pulled off a stunning victory over a profligate Chelsea at Goodison Park after some intense, positive, attacking football from both sides. While the first match of the day between Manchester United and Crystal Palace was at its boring best, this encounter on the other side of the river was miles better in terms of entertainment.
Roberto Martinez was known as a manager with a tactical vision, but what he did with Wigan didn’t warrant him enough credit. Now, at Everton, he has a much better to team at his disposal and has not disappointed one little bit with that tactical acumen of his against Chelsea.
Everton (4-2-3-1) : Howard – Baines, Distin, Jagielka, Coleman – Barry, Osman – Barkley, Mirallas, Naismith – Jelavic
Chelsea (4-2-3-1) : Cech – Cole, Terry, Luiz, Ivanovic – Mikel Ramires – Schurrle, Hazard, Mata – Eto’o
Both teams were set up in similar formations, the 4-2-3-1. Juan Mata was in the starting XI for Chelsea, which was only his second start this season.
Frank Lampard was restricted to the bench as John Obi Mikel made his first start of the season beside the Brazilian Ramires. David Luiz partnered John Terry in defense, with Ivanovic and Cole flanking them in fullback positions.
Roberto Martinez didn’t have Steven Pienaar, Arouna Kone and Darren Gibson for selection as all three were injured, and Lukaku was not eligible to play against his parent club.
The major change for Everton was in the midfield. With Fellaini moving to Manchester United, deadline day signing Gareth Barry slotted beside Leon Osman, a partnership which proved vital for the Toffees win. Steven Naismith was given a start on the left flank, with the impressive youngster Ross Barkley playing as a No.10.
This match was all about discipline for Everton, both in terms of position and tactics. Chelsea was more determined to get that opening goal and stamp their authority on the match. Both teams were playing good passing football when they had the ball and it was end to end stuff for most of the half.
Chelsea had more possession and scoring chances, but were wasteful in front of goal with Eto’o firing blanks. The Cameroonian was not in the same rhythm as his team and was late to react on many occasions. With Chelsea dominating the play, Everton had to stay compact and were forced into their half for most of the first period.
Everton Attacking Shape
The most interesting feature of Everton’s formation was the way it transformed from a 4-2-3-1 to a 3-4-3 when they had possession. The major source of attack for Everton were the flanks with Coleman and Baines partnering Naismith and Mirallas to double up the Chelsea fullbacks.
The Everton fullbacks became wingbacks as Gareth Barry dropped deep between Jagielka and Distin to make a three-man backline, thus providing an extra man in attack. Ross Barkley compensated for the lost body in the middle by dropping a bit deep.
Mirallas and Naismith moved into central positions in attack keeping Mikel and Ramires occupied as Baines and Coleman tried to bomb forward. Coleman was the more successful of the fullback duo as Baines was dealing with the overload created by Ramires on his wing.
Chelsea Attacking Shape
Chelsea were more actively involved in attacking play and passed the ball around better, exerting pressure majorly through the right wing. Everton defended in numbers as Jelavic and Mirallas were left chasing the Chelsea players.
The combination of Coleman and Naismith were keeping Eden Hazard at bay on the their flank and this forced Chelsea to move the play to the other side. This effectively reduced the tempo of Chelsea’s game as they stared at a barrage of Everton players defending deep.
Ashley Cole didn’t get into the game much and chose not to attack often. There were a few good chances for Chelsea. The easiest one fell for Eto’o, who failed to put the ball in an open net as Barry came across to tackle hard after a howler from Howard.
Apart from that, all other shots on target were saved comfortably. Chelsea’s crossing was poor and Eto’o was easy to contain for the towering duo of Jagielka and Distin.