Everton will want to forget the Chelsea game as soon as possible. They can quickly recover from this embarrassing defeat if Ronald Koeman, Everton’s manager, makes two important changes.
Everton capitulated to an excellent Chelsea side, and were on the end of an absolute hammering. The final score of 5-0 was flattering to Everton, as it could easily have been 8-0. Chelsea were superior in every department for every minute of the game.
Everton play Swansea next. This could be a potential banana skin for an Everton side who will surely be lacking confidence after the Chelsea debacle.
To prevent another poor performance two changes are needed:
1. Return to a 4-2-3-1 Formation
It was clear from the first minute that Koeman’s decision to change the team’s formation to a 3-4-3, to match Chelsea, was a terrible idea. The team looked unbalanced, lost, and incredibly uncomfortable in this new shape. Boy, did it show!
Ramiro Funes Mori and Phil Jagielka, in particular, struggled as part of a back three, playing the wide centre-back roles. Eden Hazard, Pedro, and Diego Costa ran them ragged, and both had awful matches. It was no surprise to see Koeman make a substitution and return to a back four in the first half. That was how poorly things were going.
Unfortunately, Chelsea were out of sight by then.
Koeman must return to the 4-2-3-1 formation, which had been quite successful for Everton this season. Before the Chelsea catastrophe, they were strong defensively, having only conceded 8 goals in 10 games. Their solidity at the back was matched by attacking fluency as Yannick Bolasie, Romelu Lukaku, Kevin Mirallas and Ross Barkley had all been playing well.
The Everton side that dominated West Ham, the weekend before the Chelsea defeat, was a totally different side. Barkley, Bolasie, and Lukaku starred in a great 2-0 Everton win.
Expect to see Koeman revert back to the formation which had led Everton to 6th place in the English Premier League table.
2. Idrissa Gueye Must Go Straight Back Into Everton’s Starting 11.
Idrissa Gueye’s absence in the middle of the park was crucial. Everton’s central midfield of Gareth Barry and Tom Cleverley was simply too slow and ponderous on and off the ball. They both lacked energy, guile, and any sort of aggressiveness, and they were totally overrun by the resurgent Nemanja Matic and the brilliant N’Golo Kante.
Gueye’s presence in the midfield would have prevented such Chelsea dominance. He is an aggressive, dynamic midfielder in a similar mould to Kante, which is why he was suspended for the Chelsea game after picking up 5 yellow cards in just 10 league outings. He would have tackled and harassed the Chelsea midfielders when they were in possession…something neither Barry nor Cleverley did once.
Also, Gueye would have added attacking thrust to Everton’s side through the middle of the pitch, as he can burst past players using his trickery and quick accelerations, like young Portuguese sensation Renato Sanches. This would have enabled Everton to pose a counter-attacking threat when he won the ball.
But unfortunately, Gueye was not playing, so the unique set of skills he brings to Everton’s midfield was missed. This harmed the team greatly, both defensively and offensively. Luckily for Everton, Gueye will be back for their next league game. His inclusion alone should see a drastic improvement in Everton’s play in both defensive and attacking aspects.
These two simple changes will allow Everton to return to the solid outfit they are, and prove the Chelsea game was a one off.
Swansea fans should prepare for an Everton backlash.