Games between the sides have been tight in recent times and especially so at the Bridge. In the last 7 home and away the Blues have triumphed three times with 4 draws. Why is it that we usually do well against them? An oversimplified way of looking at it is that due to our strong defence and limited offense, our games are always narrow and invariably decided by the 1 goal. We are resolute centrally and attack on the flanks – teams tend to get joy against us who attack our flanks (and specifically our left flank) Chelsea conversely have tended to play quite narrow and do not exploit the flanks as much– the opposite to a side such as Man United against whom we have a wretched record home and away.
Games between the clubs have become characterized by deadlock through the middle with the key battles out on the flanks. Coleman is usually assigned to track Ashley Cole down our right, and it’s our left side where there is usually most space as Chelsea don’t have anyone out on their right who can provide real width in midfield – Ramires will look to move across but neither Ivanovic or Ferriera did much against us last season with Baines dominating this channel. AVB has looked to use Bosingwa to remedy this since he came to the club and his matchup with Baines should be the games most interesting duel.
AVB has already shown his tactical flexibility. Last season Chelsea for the most part were 4-3-3 under Ancelotti. This campaign we have already seen 4-3-3, 4-4-2 diamond, 4-1-3-2 and 4-2-1-3. As the players average position image (left) from a recent home game shows, Chelsea usually convert into a back three when in possession with Mikel and the two central defenders who split (probably Terry & Luiz for this one) so their formation would be 4-3-3 off the ball and 3-4-3 on it. (defenders red, midfielders yellow, strikers orange)
Chelsea strengths & weaknesses
Juan Mata and Daniel Sturridge have both impressed and they make Chelsea more direct from the wide striker berths than Anelka & Malouda. Sturridge is direct with a shoot on sight policy – he is a selfish striker with a massive goal threat (something we’d like to see at Goodison) averaging 4 shots per game. On the left, Mata was recruited to supply the bullets for Torres – he has created 3.2 chances per game with an assist in each of his last 2 games –the Blues will need to watch his movement coming inside.
In terms of weaknesses, Chelsea do have vulnerability at the back. Their defensive line has been suspect this campaign – Whilst AVB has been lauded as a Mourinho mark 2 they are very different managers. AVB has only 1 clean sheet in his first 7 games and none at Stamford Bridge – by contrast Mourinho had 6 shut-outs in his first 7 games. AVB is more expansive though – Chelsea plundering 17 goals in 7 games so far– Mourinho’s side slotted just 7 in his first 7 games.
Norwich showed that long balls over the top of Chelsea’s high defensive line can pay dividends. As the average position graphic shows Bosingwa/Cole play as wingbacks high up the pitch so long diagonal balls in behind them would be one method of exploitation. This approach got Norwich 10 shots – 50% of which where from inside the Chelsea 18 yard box.
Everton strategy and likely lineup.
In previous meetings Fellaini has been key in pressing Chelsea’s anchor man who dictates play (usually Mikel although Meireles has filled this slot)
In our first 6 games we have averaged 92 less passes per game than the opening 6 of last season – with our % of long balls going up from 14% to 17%. Therefore I can see us looking to get joy from hitting diagonals behind Chelsea’s centre backs and feeding of scraps.
I would be surprised if there are any changes in personnel for this one with Drenthe again likely to start from the bench despite his fantastic cameo against Liverpool.
Chelsea are a class act but I think we can certainly pinch a point in this one. Based on the above I’ll be putting a fiver on a 1-1 draw.