Everton 1-1 Chelsea: Kalou strike forces replay

January 29, 2011

The starting line-ups

Everton and Chelsea drew 1-1 for the second game running.

David Moyes used Jack Rodwell behind Louis Saha, in a 4-4-1-1 system. Diniyar Bilyaletdinov replaced Leon Osman on the left of midfield.

Carlo Ancelotti welcomed Frank Lampard back into the side, dropping Jon Obi Mikel and using Michael Essien as the holder. The rest of the side was as expected.

The game took a while to spark into life, which seems increasingly common with these early Saturday kick-off times. Chelsea started strongly but Everton settled down into a good rhythm midway through the first half, meaning possession was 50:50 at half-time.

Everton good without ball

Everton started slowly but grew into the game, and were particularly good at shutting Chelsea down in midfield. Rodwell played ahead of the two other central midfielders, and Everton pressed Chelsea when they played the ball forward into the middle of the pitch, generally letting Chelsea’s centre-backs have time on the ball. Michael Essien was given space at some points as Rodwell dropped deeper, but his passing was not particularly imaginative and he often played the ball into Lampard and Ramires, who were closed down quickly.

Using Rodwell as the closest support to Saha meant Everton didn’t possess a great deal of creativity or goalscoring threat from their central midfielders. Rodwell is clearly a very talented player, but perhaps not suited to playing so high up the pitch – he did threaten once with a burst forward into the box when his run wasn’t tracked, but in general it was left to Saha to fend for himself upfront.

Full-backs

With neither side looking great in the centre, the most interesting battles were happening in the full-back positions, and Phil Neville up against Florent Malouda looked likely to result in a few chances. Neville’s gameplan against tricky wingers is to stick very tight to them, not letting them turn – he coped well with Gareth Bale, for example. Here, this meant Neville committed a few fouls and was fortunate not to be booked, and also resulted in him being drawn high up the pitch and into central positions, as Malouda came infield looking for the ball.

A knock-on effect was that Ashley Cole had space to run into, but he was tracked well by Seamus Coleman, who is more than comfortable moving into the right-back position. Chelsea could have worked this aspect of the game more – by playing Malouda in a more central position and pushing Cole on, they could have forced Everton into something like a back five, which happened sporadically, but less and less as Everton saw more of the ball.

Second half

David Moyes’ main instruction at half-time seemed to be to tell his full-backs to be braver. Leighton Baines had been reasonably conservative in the first half, pinned back by Nicolas Anelka, but in the second half he and Neville (to a lesser extent) pushed on untracked, and Everton started to dominate possession – and, more importantly, got the ball into the final third of the pitch, especially as the wingers came inside.

Their breakthrough came from a simple corner, however, as Baines’ corner was headed in from the edge of the six yard box by Saha. There’s more to the goal than that, though – it was notable that it was a right-wing, inswinging corner that gave Everton the lead, when many of Baines’ left-wing, outswinging corners had been unsuccessful. Baines is a superb deliverer of a dead ball, but his technique – which gets a lot of height and curve on the corners – means his corners from the left were often played in a fashion that made it difficult for Everton’s players to direct the ball towards goal. When a more direct corner was played in, Chelsea defended it very poorly.

Chelsea’s goal also came from an Everton corner – a quick counter-attack was finished well by substitute Saloman Kalou. The lack of creativity from midfield (Lampard didn’t look fully fit) and Everton’s tendency to defend deep, nullifying the threat of any pace over the top, meant a counter-attack was Chelsea’s best way back into the game.

At 1-1 little happened other than a long-range Ramires strike that hit the post, and the sides will contest a replay at Stamford Bridge.

Conclusion

A relatively unexciting game in tactical terms. The main action happened in full-back positions – Chelsea looked to be gaining down the left in the first half by pushing Coleman back, but a braver approach from Everton in the second resulted in them being the better side.

Everton 1-1 Chelsea: Kalou strike forces replay

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