On Rafa Benitez’s first return to Merseyside as Chelsea manager, a Frank Lampard double secured the three points for Chelsea. After a Steven Pienaar goal allowed Everton to take the lead in a closely fought match, Chelsea showed their big match experience, taking all three points despite not playing as well as their opponents.
Everton lined up in a 4-4-2 with Victor Anichebe and Johnny Heitinga getting starts due to injuries and suspension. As always, Leighton Baines overlapped constantly on the left wing, which created 2 vs 1 situations up against Cesar Azpilicueta, the Chelsea right back. Anichebe came into the side up front for his strength and aerially ability up against Branislav Ivanovic and Gary Cahill.
Chelsea played in a 4-3-3 with Frank Lampard, Ramires and David Luiz playing in the midfield trio. Azpilicueta played for Chelsea at right back, due to John Terry’s injury. There was a shift with Juan Mata and Eden Hazard playing in a front 3 with Fernando Torres.
Azpilicueta Targeted by Everton
Cesar Azpilicueta was very obviously targeted early on by Everton. Azpilicueta is not the first-choice right back for Chelsea, and Everton used this to their advantage. Baines, a very good attacking left back, was encouraged to go forward as often as possible. As Azpilicueta was often isolated, it meant Everton were able to create 2 vs 1 situations, which Everton were able to create a number of goalscoring chances from.
As the game developed, Azpilicueta grew into the game and Benitez changed the defensive structure and tactics to assist him more. He was able to complete 4 interceptions and 2 tackles throughout the match, which indicates he was positioned well defensively, especially in the 2nd half. This also meant that Baines had less attacking influence on the match, as he wasn’t getting the freedom to whip crosses in at such a regular rate.
Baines ranks the highest in the league for chances created and, as expected, a lot of Everton’s attacks came down their left-hand side. Chelsea’s attacks were much more evenly distributed, and used Mata on the right side more than Hazard down the Chelsea left.
Lampard’s Intelligence and Experience
Frank Lampard showed his intelligence and experience throughout this fixture with a range of great attacking runs and passes which created goalscoring chances. This was shown by Lampard’s positioning in the box for his first goal, a strong header to Tim Howard’s left side. The positioning in the box from Lampard was intelligent, as he was able to get in between Jagielka and Heitinga, without being picked up by either defender.
Lampard, playing in a midfield 3, was able to create a few goalscoring chances for his team mates, although they were unable to be dispatched. He played 3 key passes (chance creating passes) for his team mates, which showed that defensively Chelsea had the superior numbers in central midfield, so Lampard was allowed more room than he might have otherwise have had. The key to Lampard’s performance was his ability to run unmarked into the Everton box. This is something that Lampard has been known for in the past and was highlighted in this fixture.
Whilst Lampard was able to create a number of goalscoring chances, his passing statistics were below his usually high standards. Lampard completed 30 of his 49 passes (61%) and he misplaced passes which he would normally make. However, none of these misplaced passes amounted to Everton scoring. Lampard will hope to improve his passing for future matches, as the better sides may capitalise on the misplaced passes.
Everton’s Bad Luck and Wastefulness
Everton had 6 out of their 14 shots on target, with a further 3 hitting the post or crossbar. If Everton were luckier with their attempts which hit the posts, they would have won. As Everton dominated much of the first 30 minutes, David Moyes would be kicking himself for his team’s inability to put away their early chances. If they had done this, they would have walked away with at least 1 point, but more likely 3.
Everton were unlucky as they hit the post 3 times. With Jelavic hitting the crossbar in the 70th minute, this may have meant Everton won the match, due to momentum being with them. It was a delightfully whipped in cross from Baines, which Jelavic flicked onto the crossbar and out of the substitute goalkeeper, Ross Turnbull’s, reach. However, only 2 minutes later, a goalmouth scramble at the opposite end was turned in by Frank Lampard, for Chelsea’s 2nd goal and allowed Chelsea to take home the 3 points.
The final result of this fixture was quite deceiving, with Everton being set up better tactically and having the better chances. However, it was a good win by Chelsea and moves them into touching distance of Manchester City, 4 points behind with a match in hand.
Frank Lampard put in a man-of-the-match performance, with 2 goals and the creation of a number of goalscoring chances for his teammates. Whether this performance is enough to get him a new contract remains to be seen, but it highlighted what he can offer Chelsea now and in the future. With Chelsea’s attacking trio of Mata, Oscar, and Hazard, Lampard has had to play deeper in midfield, and has done a good job overall.