Everton faced a difficult challenge against a rampant Chelsea side visiting Goodison Park intent on leaving with three points. However, Sam Allardyce’s side thwarted the Londoners despite being dominated in just about every facet of the game.
After the game it felt like the Toffees had been thrashed even though the score said 0-0 - and it would have been a rout like the last few times we’ve played Chelsea were it not for the determined performance Big Sam’s boys put on.
After the game, the manager spoke to evertontv, saying -
“We scrapped it out, we dug it out and battled it out, there’s no doubt about that.
“Defensively you can’t knock the team whatsoever in terms of the effort, commitment and organisation to keep such a talented side at bay.
“We had a little bit of luck when the ball hit the bar but the defending overall… and even after that there was the goalkeeper, and even when they got past the keeper, Phil Jagielka decided he wasn’t going to let Chelsea score today when he cleared off the line.
“That’s not luck, it’s a bit of desire and good reading of the situation.”
Allardyce spoke about the change he made at the break to a five-man backline -
“We tried to make changes at half-time to give us a better platform to get up the pitch a little bit more and I’d have to say that didn’t work as well as I would have liked because our quality of ball wasn’t as good as I wanted.
“But our overall defending today was outstanding in terms of where we’ve come from from when I arrived just a few weeks ago.”
| Big Sam's reaction to this afternoon's battling draw against Chelsea... #EFCmatchday pic.twitter.com/IepkvWs5i0— Everton (@Everton) December 23, 2017
Earlier he had said that he’s been using extensive video study with the players to get them to return to some semblance of defensive structure, and it’s certainly working.
“We’ve done a bit of practice and analysis showing them how to organise your side when you’re out of possession, what dangers the opposition can bring to you and how you cope with that, and I think that they’ve taken that on board exceptionally well.
“I’m very pleased we’ve achieved so much in such a short period of time coming into Christmas and with so many games coming up, and also with us being undefeated since I got here.”
Allardyce went on to add that Wayne Rooney missed out today with a heavy cold, and he started with Phil Jagielka and Michael Keane with the heavy holiday season workload upcoming. Idrissa Gueye limped off in the second half with what looked like a hamstring injury -
“Wayne got an illness and we’ve changed the two centre-halves, which people would look at and say, ‘what the hell is he doing when the two centre-halves had done so well?’.
“But I had to take that risk because I have to rotate the squad in the next fortnight because we’ve got five games.
“With Gana, the disappointing thing about an injury, even though it may be a slight one, he misses four games even if he’s back in two weeks.
“Anybody getting injury now misses a massive amount of games that at any other time of the season they wouldn’t.”