Everton have struggled at Stamford Bridge for the best part of three decades, with their last win at Chelsea coming in 1994. Yesterday’s forgettable away loss is just the latest in the series of mishaps that have occurred in London, let’s take a look at three talking points from the game last night.
Everton were never going to win Monday’s match; however, misfortune did play a role in both goals. Chelsea’s opening tally was well-worked, but Kai Havertz’s shot was heading wide of the net when the ball redirected off Ben Godfrey’s leg and into the goal. Similarly, Jordan Pickford can count himself unlucky for missing the ball when he rushed out to quell Havertz’ threat to give up a penalty.
From the opening kick, the away side didn’t look prepared for Chelsea’s fluid offense and work off the ball. The home team dominated in every statistical category, and Monday’s was a game in which the score sheet accurately reflected the game outcome. Chelsea: 19 shots, nine on target, 66-percent possession, seven corners. Everton: seven shots, one on goal, 34-percent possession, three corners. Until the Toffees can consistently win games such as these — they haven’t won at Stamford Bridge in 26 league contests — the Merseyside outfit will forever be on the outskirts of the top four, looking in.
Mason Mount’s exclusion from the Blues’ starting XI meant that Carlo Ancelotti’s initial formation — a combative 3–5–2 — was a poor counter to Chelsea’s free-moving 3–4–3. Mount, who floats around the pitch and occupies open pockets of space, was meant to be a non-factor with Lucas Digne and Alex Iwobi patrolling the flanks. With Marcos Alonso and Callum Hudson-Odoi on the left, Reece James paired with Timo Werner on the right and Havertz in a false-9 role though, Everton’s defense was under constant siege and frequently caught out of position.
Then there was the decision to play Iwobi as a wing back, which already has proven unsuccessful this season. This is nothing against talented forward. I like his game and the skill he brings in the channels. That said, he is not a natural defender and is a liability when asked to do so, especially with a lackadaisical Mason Holgate behind him. The loss to Chelsea was another example of what happens when the Italian gets his formations wrong.
Of Everton’s 14 league wins, Abdoulaye Doucouré has started every single fixture; the Toffees have not won a game in which the Frenchman did not feature. Since signing in the summer from Watford FC, the do-it-all midfielder has established himself as an irreplaceable member of Ancelotti’s side. His work rate on both sides of the ball is unparalleled, and he allows his teammates to take risks due to his coverage to mitigate a loss of possession. The former Hornet serves as an extension of his manager’s mind, holding the team together at the heart of its formation.
The 28-year-old is effective in the attack and can push the ball forward. He also is a blockade in the center of the pitch, breaking up the opposition’s counters. And the dynamic midfielder also has dropped back to a more defensive position at times this season when the fullbacks blaze forward. After another Doucouré-less loss, this time against Chelsea, it is clear that Everton cannot win without him. Ancelotti will be leaning on Tom Davies to step into the breach much like he did when Allan was out.