The final game of the season is upon as we face a Chelsea side who have already secured second spot . Our target is to secure 7th with Fulham ensconced just below us if we fail to do so. There are few certainties on the last day of the season other than the cliché ‘both sets of player’s seem to already be on their holidays’ will be trotted out by Alaister Mann on the final game of motd’s Sunday roster.
Chelsea Strategy and Intel
Although they have tinkered with a diamond variant in the latter half of the season, Chelsea usually deploy 4-3-3 with Drogba as the figurehead and width provided by the wide strikers. One of these is likely to be Malouda, their top scorer in the league with 13 and their most creative force; setting up a chance for an opponent every 25 mins… 107 in total – the most in the division.
It has become nigh on impossible to predict who Chelsea will pick up front for games in the latter half of the season but in Drogba, Anelka, Malouda, Torres & Kalou they have heavy artillery who have all damaged the Blues at some stage in the past. The most natural balance for me is Malouda, Drogba, Anelka, but its likely Torres will start; most probably at the expense of Anelka with Drogba pushed out right. Here are the forward’s records against the Blues in league and cup:
Recent form and past meetings
Considering Ancelloti’s job is supposedly on the line, the form Chelsea take into Sunday’s game is terrific. Their only recent defeat was the title decider at Old Trafford and away from home they play a really attacking style, with only Arsenal picking up more points and scoring more goals on their travels than Chelsea. The men from West London are lethal on the break, scoring more goals on their travels from breakaway situations than any other side in the top flight.
The Blue’s come into this one after last Saturday’s grim trip to the Hawthorns and will be looking to finish the season on a high – our home form has been superb in the latter half of the campaign where we are unbeaten since November.
Ancelotti has never got the better of David Moyes in 6 meetings, with 5 draws and 1 Everton win. The games between the clubs are always tight and evenly contested. As the above line-ups show Chelsea play narrow in midfield and the games between the clubs lately have been characterized by deadlock through the middle with the games key battles out on the flanks. If there is a tactical flaw with Chelsea its that they can be quite narrow at times in midfield, as was shown in the FA Cup tie at the Bridge back in February. Coleman is usually assigned to pick up Ashley Cole down our right, and its our left side where there is usually most space as Chelsea don’t have anyone out on their right who can provide width in midfield (especially if Drogba starts on the right side of the attack who will naturally cut in and not track back) – this is why Baines has done so well in these games this season. The flip side of this of course is that with Arteta likely playing wide cutting in, Ivanovic will have a similar amount of room to operate in front of him. The outcome of the game could hinge on which fullback makes the most of this space.
Everton strategy and likely lineup.
In the previous meetings this campaign Fellaini has been key in pressing Chelsea’s anchor man who dictates their play (usually Mikel) when he is in possession. Our strategy is to upset Chelsea playing through the middle of our midfield where often they can have a man advantage. To this end, Moyes could opt to start with Rodwell as he has done against most of the top sides due to his ability to chase and press – sadly Rodwell is nowhere near as aggressive in pressing the opposition as the Big Belgian and for me imposing himself on opposition players is the area of Rodwell’s game he really needs to improve if he is to be able to reach automatic selection status at Goodison – this season he hasn’t warranted this.
We will probably line up 4-2-3-1 with Tim Cahill again likely to miss out. Personally I would start with Beckford for this one but its more likely Anichebe will be preferred in attack as he continues to look to register his first goal of the season.
Despite there being little at stake I am expecting a hard fought tussle and I think the result will be our third 1-1 draw with the West Londoners this campaign