Everton slipped to a 1-0 defeat at home to Chelsea to start off the 2022/23 season, but the Toffees need not be ashamed of their effort in a strong defensive display. Unfortunate injury circumstances robbed Frank Lampard of handful of players even before kick off, and that was only compounded by new issues for Ben Godfrey and Yerry Mina in the loss.
The Blues were unable to create much without strikers Dominic Calvert-Lewin (injured, out six weeks) and Salomon Rondon (suspended), but still defended stoutly as Chelsea knocked time and again, getting well over a dozen corners in this game and not coming close even once.
Speaking after the game Lampard praised his side’s effort.
“It was a good performance. I don’t think we deserved to lose. In terms of both boxes and chances we created, I thought we deserved the draw. We had a moment of lack of concentration for the penalty. The energy and defensive structure were great from start to finish. We created three or four chances and, on another day, we score one of those and don’t lose the game. I think the lads did well in attack, their mobility gave them lots of problems. The performance was good considering we played without a striker, but obviously we missed that clinical edge.”
Considering the penalty is over a third of that (0.76), that was a reasonable defensive performance against a top four side - remember, without a 'defensive' DM.— Royal Blue Mersey (@RBMersey) August 6, 2022
Offensively, with no #9 focal point for the style of team this is, that low xG is to be expected. #EFC https://t.co/ZWuhwiSONS
Having said the Blues will miss Godfrey and Mina for some time, he added more details.
“He has got a small fracture. I think it will be months rather than weeks. We think it could be two or three months, but don’t quote me too heavily on that. We will assess him and know more in the coming days.”
Alex Iwobi's career-saving comeback under Frank Lampard is one of the stories of 2022 that is not going to make the media limelight. #EFC #COYB pic.twitter.com/320Y7CCWur— Royal Blue Mersey (@RBMersey) August 6, 2022
Alex Iwobi has really turned things around since the arrival of Lampard in the end of January. Today he put in another stellar showing in an unfamiliar defensive role, his tireless workrate showing up from the first minute until the 110th. Meanwhile, the player expected to take that role — Amadou Onana — watched on from the stands today, waiting for his transfer to be announced.
“I thought Alex Iwobi was brilliant in the number six role. Because of his attitude, personality and humility, it doesn’t matter. He doesn’t bat an eyelid at what we ask them to do. I thought him and Abdoulaye Doucoure played very well in midfield today.”
On the topic of Onana, Lampard sounded quite enthused by the midfielder.
“He’s a fantastically talented young player. We’ve watched & followed him for a long time and I think he’s going to be a really big player for us. He’s an all-round midfield player, we’re delighted to get him here.”
Disappointing to lose on opening day, especially at home, but the effort from the players today was very pleasing to see. With a few pieces added for support and some luck on the injury front, it’s hard to see Everton staying in a relegation battle this season.