Yesterday, Everton found themselves on the receiving end of an impressive display from a very in form Chelsea. Unchanged for a third match in succession, the Toffees were forced to defend for long periods and found most of their attacking ventures easily negated by their well drilled opposition.
Goals from Daniel Sturridge, John Terry and Ramires gave Chelsea a 3-0 lead, which was only slightly undermined by a late Apostolos Vellios strike. Chelsea were in the ascendency for the majority of the game and deserved their win.
Here are the main Everton related talking points to stem from yesterday’s defeat.
Whilst yesterday’s loss was comprehensive, confusingly Everton actually stifled their opponents far better than last year, when they collected four points off the Londoners.
Chelsea displayed a clinical, ruthless streak in front of goal, absent from several previous performances against the Toffees.
Andre Villas-Boas's side had seven shots to Everton’s six and made almost 50 percent of those efforts count.
Last year at Stamford Bridge they had eight shots, scoring one goal, and unleashed 14 shots in the Goodison Park fixture without scoring.
However, despite rarely troubling Tim Howard, Chelsea completely dominated possession with 69 percent of the ball and more than doubled the amount of passes the Toffees made.
Last season Everton had seen 43 percent of the ball, surely a telling factor.
When the Toffees did wrestle possession back yesterday, it was surrendered far too easily.
They struggled with Chelsea’s sharp pressing, squandered countless passes and hit too many optimistic long balls in an afternoon where they failed to find an attacking identity.
David Moyes saw his side pitted against a more systematically prepared and tactically astute Chelsea compared with recent line-ups. Notable improvements come from the durability of Ramires, the vivacity of Daniel Sturridge and the craft and guile of the most impressive Juan Mata.
Andre Villas-Boas is beginning to reap the rewards of extensive work with his new team and he currently masterminds an extremely well organised unit.
One blot for Chelsea was that by conceding late they stretched a run of games without a clean sheet to seven, something not done since 2003. However, 12 goals in three games augurs well for the Blues, who seem sure to be right in the title picture this season.
As well as Chelsea played, Everton were also guilty of some glaring defensive lapses.
All three goals were struck from inside the six yard box and twice it seemed Chelsea almost walked the ball into the net.
The first goal came when Ashley Cole reacted quicker than Seamus Coleman and fed Daniel Sturridge, who in turn beat the reaction times of Leighton Baines and Sylvain Distin to nod home.
The second goal could have similarly been prevented. A rash challenge from Coleman resulted in a free-kick, with first half stoppage time almost expired.
From Lampard’s (sublime) delivery, John Terry rose above an unimposing Marouane Fellaini and a floundering Tim Howard, who were both guilty of poor positioning—as the picture depicts.
Finally, a surging run from Juan Mata stretched Everton defensively, but Ramires still somehow got between Sylvain Distin and Leighton Baines to convert the cross.
To confront the Premier League elite, Everton need every player to produce prime form and such defensive blunders must be eliminated.
Playing against such financially blessed opponents, error-strewn displays will predominantly end in resounding defeat.
Chelsea’s win condemned Everton to a third defeat in a row.
Most Evertonians are not harbouring too many optimistic feelings at present.
Sunday's game at Fulham may prove a pivotal point in how this season evolves.
Everton’s defeats have come against Manchester City, Liverpool and of course Chelsea. With Manchester United and an in form Newcastle to come, it really has been a testing Autumn for the Toffees so far.
The game against Fulham was always going to be of increased importance during this brutal stretch of games, but three points at Craven Cottage is now becoming imperative.
Everton’s midfield needs tinkering with.
Centrally, Marouane Fellaini and Jack Rodwell have performed well in patches and should be given time to build further chemistry together.
Tim Cahill generally links up play to a front man well, whilst dropping back into midfield when Everton do not have possession.
There are arguments for how effective Cahill is in this role away from home, particularly as he is experiencing one of his driest spells in front of goal.
No goals in 19 is unacceptable from Everton's talisman and it is not surprising that this coincides with the Toffees' current slump.
Some feel David Moyes should be more versatile and deploy a player with more pace in that position.
A more pressing issue is Everton’s feeble offerings on the flank that is supplying so little for Cahill and others.
From a wide position, Leon Osman has not produced examples of Premier League quality for several seasons. He is primarily a central midfielder who enjoyed his best form in a central attacking role at the end of last season.
Given a wider role yesterday, all too often he roamed in and left Leighton Baines isolated when he should have been complementing his attacking advances.
The two have been paired together frequently but have rarely demonstrated they can perform on the same attacking wavelength.
Osman sloppily lost possession three times yesterday, twice through bad control, and once when running into players.
Too often he is shoved off the ball by more bulky adversaries, a fact highlighted by the 13 possession duels he contested yesterday, of which he won only three.
Seamus Coleman was equally inept at Stamford Bridge, passing at an abysmal 68 percent and failing to deliver one single ball into the box. Sieving through his statistics, his impression on the game seemed almost non-existent.
He also failed to attempt a through ball, made just one successful dribble and did not register a single shot.
He may be hindered by Tony Hibbert’s attacking shortcomings for support, but the Irishman needs to contribute far more consistently to warrant continued selection.
Royston Drenthe produced far more end product in his cameo appearance, setting up the goal and injecting much needed pace and skill into the performance. Surely the Dutchman is long overdue a start now?
In terms of other options, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov has had an unconvincing run in the team and should perhaps remain on the sidelines.
Ross Barkley, temporarily detached from the squad at present, would offer more to Everton on a flank and should be considered to start at Fulham.
Many will hope David Moyes does introduce some changes for the journey to Craven Cottage, especially on the flanks.
Drenthe and Barkley would offer less predictability than two makeshift wingers who, particularly away from home, seem to be currently falling short of what is required.
Considering a more prominent role for Apostolos Vellios would also go down well with a proportion of Evertonians.
Finally, Phil Neville’s continued absence from the line-up has certainly left the defence appearing a fraction more unorganised.
Too often heads drop and confusion reigns. At present, Neville’s constant encouraging and at times berating cries seem badly missed.
Phil Jagielka has landed with the captain’s armband possibly for the same reason Mikel Arteta was once awarded it, to resurrect some patchy form on the pitch.
Whilst this has not yet materialised, Jagielka also seems reluctant to be as vocal as Neville.
Whilst one cannot analyse his manner in the dressing room or witness the respect he retains from teammates, his captaincy seems to partially reduce an element of visible passion from Everton’s displays.
Whether it is time for Neville to return to the line-up, time for Jagielka to be more vocal, or perhaps even time for another candidate to come forward, this seems an area Everton need to examine.
Teams competing against others able to buy more technically gifted players need to maximise all mental related facets of the game. Energy and passion originate from the captain.
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