Everton vs. Chelsea: Winners and Losers from Premier League Clash
Chelsea and Everton enjoyed a nine-goal thriller on Saturday evening, as the Londoners extended their perfect start to the season with an entertaining and chaotic 6-3 win.
Diego Costa scored in the first and last minutes of the game to secure the points for Jose Mourinho's side, although Everton kept fighting until the very end—although Roberto Martinez's men were only ever on equal terms with their opponents for the 35 seconds before Costa grabbed the first goal of the game.
The win returns Chelsea to the top of the fledgling Premier League table, while Everton remain in the bottom half as they await their first win.
Click on for some winners and losers from today's events at Goodison Park.
Winner: The Neutral Spectator
A saccharine sentiment it may be, but this was a truly brilliant game for the neutral observer to watch. It had everything—obviously there were plenty of goals to enjoy, but there were also a smattering of great saves, dramatic blocks and feisty confrontations between players from both teams.
The Premier League seems to throw up a game like this every so often, leading to the inevitable comments about how such games are exactly why it is "the best league in the world." Whether or not that is truly the case can be debated until the end of time, but this was certainly Saturday evening entertainment of the highest order.
Loser: Fans of Competent Defending
As entertaining as the game undoubtedly was, the two managers will no doubt return to work on Sunday (or Monday, if they decide to take a day off) acutely aware that they have a lot of work to do with the defence about their positioning and organisation.
While the nine-goal total was partly a fluke—a freak result of shots finding the corners, or deflections wrong-footing defenders—neither defence can write off the result completely. Both defences, Everton's especially, had lapses from both set-pieces and open play, something that will concern both managers deeply.
The game will also have concerned those who enjoy the art of defending being done well. For all concerned, perhaps it is a good thing Alan Hansen is no longer a pundit on the BBC's Match of the Day.
Winner: Diego Costa
If anyone was in any doubt why Chelsea had bought Diego Costa in the summer, this game should have erased them. Costa was a constant snarling, irritating, brilliant presence—annoying the Everton defence with his confrontational style and then putting them to the sword with his clinical touch in front of goal.
Presented with a glorious chance after barely half-a-minute, Costa was cool and collected enough to make the most of the gift and put it away. From there, Chelsea's evening should have been a straightforward one—that it was not had little to do with Costa.
As the game wore, Costa continued to be a threat in the final third, although his second (and final) goal only came after the game had already been won. But he showed his mastery of another side of the game, the psychological one, as he visibly riled his opponents. Whether it worked or not is hard to gauge conclusively, but the fact Everton went on to concede six times suggests they were not at their most concentrated.
Costa now has four goals from three league games, and Chelsea have nine points from a possible nine points.
As Mourinho told reporters (per London Evening Standard):
He's a good finisher, he gives us not just that final touch but he also operates defensively and I can remember him making some tackles on the edge of the box so he is giving us what we expected.
With Fernando Torres gone, Mourinho also confirmed (per the Daily Star) after the match that Chelsea are looking to add QPR's Loic Remy to the squad. The Frenchman already should know what his role is going to be, however—like Didier Drogba, he is simply going to be back-up for the main man Costa.
After just four games, the naturalised Spaniard's supremacy is already assured.
Loser: Tim Howard
He conceded six goals (and probably should have done better with a couple of them).
He should have been sent off (well, booked) for blatantly handling the ball well outside his box.
He fell for Diego Costa's predictable antics, getting drawn into a pointless spat.
All in all, a game to forget for Tim Howard.
Winner: Jose Mourinho
While high-scoring games might be great for fans, they are often a nightmare for coaches. Lots of goals usually means a loss of tactical understanding and organisation, two things managers are after above almost anything else (apart from wins, of course).
Managers are there to impose order and structure on games, to make them predictable; when that doesn't happen, in a sense they have failed.
Despite that, however, Mourinho might make an exception on this occasion. Yes, his side conceded three times, but they also scored six times. His main striker got a brace at one of the tougher away grounds in the Premier League, and his team showed attacking intent and invention to match their opponents punch for punch as the game threatened to descend into chaos. They showed great resolve—in fact, they showed why they are so many people's favourites to be champions this season.
With Manchester City losing earlier on Saturday, only Swansea also have a 100 per cent record after three games (Tottenham can join that select band with a win over Liverpool on Sunday). Chelsea have already established an advantage over their likely rivals, and they have demonstrated both the resolve and quality required of potential champions.
Mourinho will be feeling very good about his side's prospects this evening.
Loser: Muhamed Besic
With Chelsea leading 5-3 in the closing minutes, Martinez opted to withdraw his tired striker Romelu Lukaku and bring on Muhamed Besic. It was a sensible move in two ways—Lukaku was preserved from potentially picking up an injury, while Besic was able to get his first taste of Premier League football in a relatively stakes-free situation.
Or so Martinez will have though. Besic, who has a reputation for being somewhat self-confident, used his first touch in English football as a chance to try an absurd spinning backheel, a move that (unsurprisingly) did not quite come off. John Obi Mikel pounced on the mistake and, after he fed the ball to Diego Costa, Chelsea had added an extra goal to their winning margin.
Besic could only stand there, semi-stunned, as thousands of pairs of eyes bored into him. One minute on the pitch, one touch of the ball, one mistake leading to an opposition goal.
From such auspicious beginnings might a fine Premier League career eventually grow. But Besic has a bit of work to do to make up for what was not a particularly strong first impression.