Ineptitude on both ends of the pitch
After sitting through what was arguably one of the worst football matches I have ever seen, I’ve come to the obvious conclusion that Everton didn’t do a single thing right against Chelsea. Everton were unfortunate to go down early via a Eden Hazard wonder strike, but instead of buckling down and attempting to get back into the match, they proceeded to leak goals at a painful rate. The defenders seemed wholly unaware of their defensive responsibilities and allowed Chelsea to make runs into the box time and time again. And as the game got further out of their grasp, Everton’s defenders pushed up the field leaving them vulnerable to a vicious Chelsea counter-attack.
The attack was equally as putrid and resembled a team like Sunderland more than a squad currently sitting in the top six. Despite having one of the better attacking groups in recent memory, Everton we only able to muster a single shot through 90 minutes and it was not even a shot on target. This was a complete and utter breakdown of a team that looked poised to break out of a slump that had persisted for over a month.
This team is definitely more like a work in progress than a complete squad
With a new manager, owner and sporting director joining this season, it was clear that it would take some time for the back room staff to craft a team in their image. However, after a positive start to the season the team appeared to be closer to a top 6 squad than perhaps previously thought. But after today’s performance, and the number of other frustrating losses and draws, this squad may not be as close to done as previously thought. This may seem like an overreaction to a gut-wrenching loss, but when you look at it objectively, Everton have relied on a number of aging players that may be trending downwards.
Phil Jagielka has looked like a shell of his former self the last few weeks and today only led credence to Koeman’s decision to drop him from the squad against West Ham. The depth on the squad is also lacking as evidenced by the absence of Idrissa Gueye and Leighton Baines in addition to the lack of any impact subs, save for Gerard Deulofeu.
Everton may be able to get by with a lesser team against some of the lower table opponents, but it won’t work with any consistency agains the top-four stalwarts. If European competition is truly the goal, then there will need to be some upgrades either in the winter or at the end of the season.
Koeman must use the international break to right the ship
This is now the second international break that Everton have gone into with their tails between their legs. The last time, they were able to respond with a hard fought draw against Manchester City, this time a Swansea team in transition awaits them. Koeman must find a way to get the most out of his talented attackers. The blossoming partnership of Romelu Lukaku and Yannick Bolasie has stalled, production from the flanks is missing and Ross Barkley continues to struggle.
Things will likely improve with the eventual return of Baines and Gueye, but something needs to give if Everton wishes to remain in the top ten. Reinforcements and the dicey winter transfer window will not open for another month. Koeman is stuck with this squad for the time being and needs to find a new tactic to get the most out of a struggling squad.