Chelsea 1-1 Everton (AET): Everton through after shoot-out
Nicolas Anelka and Ashley Cole missed penalties as Chelsea crashed out of the FA Cup.
Carlo Ancelotti left Nicolas Anelka and Michael Essien out. Paulo Ferreira started at right-back.
David Moyes played his expected line-up. Tim Cahill played off Jermaine Beckford upfront.
The game had two phases – first Everton shut Chelsea out and the game was neutral, before Chelsea dominated after half-time.
A tale of two flanks
The most promising area of the pitch in the first half was down Everton’s left, Chelsea’s right. There were two reasons for this, because both sides were lopsided. First, Chelsea’s system looked like a 4-3-2-1 when they had the ball, but when they lost it, Florent Malouda dropped back to the left. However, Saloman Kalou didn’t move to the right, with Ramires expected to do a lot of work without the ball, covering both the right-centre channel, and tracking Leighton Baines. Ramires made his name as a ’shuttler’, and Ancelotti was therefore happy to tell Kalou to stay up the pitch.
In addition, Leon Osman was told to keep an eye on Ramires when Everton didn’t have the ball – possibly thinking that Ramires was effectively playing on the right of a four-man midfield, although Everton’s left-sided midfielder usually plays very narrow anyway. The outcome was that Ferreira had space to move into when Chelsea got the ball, and he was frequently in acres of space for Frank Lampard and Jon Obi Mikel to find on the flank. Equally, Baines had space to exploit down the left, as always – Chelsea had a lot of problems dealing with him in the league meeting between the sides at Stamford Bridge this season, and though he didn’t produce as many chances with his crossing here, he was still an outlet.
Coleman v Cole
The other interesting battle on the pitch was Seamus Coleman v Ashley Cole. There was nothing particularly tactical about this contest, it was simply interesting to see how frequently Coleman beat Cole – in particular, when the two were in a direct battle of speed. With Malouda playing much more central than he did in the first game when Chelsea had the ball, Coleman didn’t have to cover Phil Neville as much, and therefore he license to focus on attacking Cole.
Chelsea’s lack of width high up the pitch played into Everton’s hands – they defended narrow, and Chelsea found it difficult to play through them. Chelsea’s width and main threat came from full-back, but with Cole tracked by Coleman and Ferreira not making the most of his time on the ball, Chelsea didn’t threaten much.
Both sides were essentially playing on the counter-attack – Jermaine Beckford made some decent runs upfront and Coleman’s pace caused some problems, but there was relatively little first half goalmouth action.
Ancelotti chose to bring on Michael Essien at half time, and removed Mikel. This was coupled with Chelsea increasing the tempo they played at – Essien looked for forward passes whereas Mikel plays from side to side, and Chelsea were the better side in the second half. Despite their dominance, they rarely managed to construct any clear chances in open play – their best chances came when they lofted the ball into the box from wide areas or set-pieces, often being first to the second balls. Tim Howard made some good saves throughout the game.
The match remained intriguing but was less of an interesting tactical contest towards the end of normal time. Both sides kept the same shape despite substitutions, and the stalemate continued.
Before extra time Ancelotti brought on Nicolas Anelka, who made a good impact by using his pace against the tired legs in Everton’s backline. It was Anelka who created the goal down the right, soon after Ferreira got the ball in space down that side. Again, the chance came in a scrappy manner, as Drogba’s miscontrol fell to Lampard, who smashed the ball in.
Everton got back in the game by winning a free-kick after a simple long ball pumped forward – Baines stepped up and curled the ball into the net, forcing the penalty shoot out.
The main interest here was in the first half, with both leaving spaces down the same side of the pitch, and therefore Baines and Ferreira being the players with most space.
As whole, this was basically all about how well Everton could stop Chelsea – Ancelotti’s side’s narrowness made it rather easy for Moyes. Anelka drifted into wide spaces and helped stretch the Everton defence – it’s difficult to understand why Malouda and Kalou weren’t told to play wider earlier on.
Chelsea’s poor record in penalty shoot-outs continues – they’ve lost seven of their last eight – and they also find playing against Everton very difficult.