Everton 1-0 Chelsea: Tactical Analysis
Chelsea also lined up in 4-2-3-1, but their attacking strategy aimed to use the inter-play between the front 4, and their pace. Schurrle constantly made runs in behind the Everton defence. Mikel was played to sit just in front of the defenders in order to aid in stopping the aerial attack from Everton. While Terry was in direct combat with Jelavic more often than not, Mikel was around in order to intercept the second ball.
Due to the fact that both teams were in a 4-2-3-1, there wasn’t much space for any one player to express himself, especially in forward areas, and the game descended into individual battles. In order to counter this, Chelsea got Luiz on the ball a lot more. The Brazilian defender didn’t have any one directly against him, as Terry occupied Jelavic, and has the ball playing ability to influence the game.
This saw Luiz taking on the role of the play-maker for Chelsea. He happened to have 77 touches during the game, the second highest, and completed 63 passes at a rate of 86%. Another implication of this was Mata dropping deep. As Manchester City showed last season, Mata can be made ineffective when he is forced deep, and the 4-4-1-1 did just that to the diminutive Spaniard. This also made it hard for the likes of Hazard, who was almost always surrounded by more than one defender.
The other tactic that Chelsea used was side to side passing. Everton had a lot of bodies in their own half, and Chelsea tried a number of long horizontal passes to stretch the Everton defence, but this didn’t work out too well for the Londoners.
Last season, Chelsea were rightly criticised for being too slow at times. This season, Mourinho has looked to make the attacking transition a lot quicker. This worked out very well in the first half against Hull, but hasn’t really been working since then.
The team was too direct, and as a result, couldn’t really play to their strengths, which is in allowing their play-makers space to pull opposition defences apart. A lot of passes were hit behind the Everton defence, looking to find the run of either Eto’o or Schurrle, but this tactic was quite unsuccessful. Credit must also be given to the Everton midfield, who worked really hard to deny time and space to the likes of Mata and Hazard.
Loss of Composure
After Everton got the lead, they defended stoutly, and kept Chelsea away for the most part. However, what was quite disappointing from a Chelsea perspective was the manner in which the Blues fell apart.
Everton took Jelavic off, and put the quick Mirallas up top. Chelsea were chasing the game, and the running from Mirallas was very good, as the Chelsea defence was stretched vertically, making it hard for them to put together good passing strings. Barkley was played on the left, but he was effectively another central midfielder, looking to stop Chelsea playing.
Chelsea, on the other hand, made changes and eventually ended up with Ramires at right-back and David Luiz at left back. Lampard and Mikel were playing in the middle of the park, and Eto’o, Torres, Hazard and Oscar played up front as Chelsea got desperate for a goal. This approach, however, was doomed for failure, as the players couldn’t hold their shape. Everton, and the home crowd, did well to ruffle the Blue feathers, as Chelsea lost the game along with their composure.