In a rough-and-tumble afternoon of football, Everton beat Chelsea 3-1 at Goodison Park.
In Duncan Ferguson’s first game in charge The Toffees absolutely flew at Chelsea and ended up inflicting their visitor’s third loss in their last five. What did we learn?
1. Calvert-Lewin stands and delivers
No matter who Everton signed to play in attack, no matter the money that was spent, they always seemed to end up back with the lad who cost them nothing: Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been playing for Everton since 2016, and has always been someone managers could rely on. Not for goals, you understand, but work, grit, sweat and aerial domination.
These are admirable traits, but strikers want to score goals. Unfortunately that was something the Englishman often struggled with – despite literally scoring a World Cup winning goal. For instance, he had never scored a brace in the Premier League. The last time he scored more than once in a game, it was in League Two back in 2015.
But if you’re a rugged no. 9 playing for Everton then there could be no better coach than Duncan Ferguson. The Scot who Calvert-Lewin said “[has] always stuck by me,” obviously had the Englishman motivated and focused. He missed a big chance to double Everton’s lead in the first half, but never gave up and in the end did double the lead when he battled with Chelsea’s centre-backs to collect a loose ball and slot it home cooly. And then late in the game he finally bagged his brace, sealing the victory with an instinctive toe-poke finish.
Everton’s problem has always been goalscoring, but Calvert-Lewin’s coming-of-age display today against Chelsea proves that the young lad who has always been there and always played just because he worked hard could now be played because he is the best man to lead the line for Everton. Their dream goalscoring no. 9.
2. Chelsea’s Kepa problem
Kepa Arrizabalaga is the most expensive goalkeeper in the world. That statement is only worth noting because right now he’s playing terribly. Not poorly, not averagely, just downright atrocious. The Spaniard came into the game with a save percentage of just 55.56%, meaning that just under half the shots he faces go into the back of the net.
With numbers like that, the only reason Chelsea aren’t in relegation trouble is because Chelsea are usually pretty good at restricting shots on their goal thanks to their control of the ball. But without Jorginho and Fikayo Tomori today, the Blues had much less control and as a result Everton managed to fire off 13 shots, 7 of which hit the target.
Conceding 3 goals from just 7 shots on target is right in Kepa’s wheelhouse, sadly. And whilst you could forgive him for Everton’s first goal, his presence for their second was weak and on the third he may as well have not been playing. The Spaniard first gave the ball away with a loose pass and then, as Everton advanced into the area, stood there with no authority and managed to get nutmegged by a lunging toepoke.
3. Richarlison rising high
It was just five minutes into the afternoon’s action when Djibril Sidibé sent a looping high cross into the Chelsea box and Richarlison rose highest, soaring through the air and powering a header low into the back of the net. It was a vintage Duncan Ferguson goal, and many will want to credit the Scot with influencing the Brazilian. The truth is, however, Richarlison has always had a bit of that in his game.
Hell, the last goal Everton scored under Marco Silva also came from Richarlison and was also very much a vintage Duncan Ferguson goal as it was a diving header where he showed excellent technique to guide the ball into the back of the net. The Brazilian cost Everton a cool £50m, and what these goals (he has three in three games) represent is a player that seems to be coming into his own.
Richarlison scored 13 goals in the league last season but even with Everton’s struggles so far, his strike today was his sixth of the campaign. With the verve and drive the Toffees played with today and the form he has been showing, one wouldn’t rule out a very strong second half of the season from Everton’s big Brazilian striker.
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4. Chelsea have the blues
Six weeks ago Frank Lampard’s Chelsea were really riding high, they had won seven matches in a row and looked well ahead of schedule in terms of their progression. Then they lost to Manchester United in the Carabao Cup and things haven’t been the same since.
Since that United game Chelsea have played eight times and won three, drawn two and lost three. That’s quite unimpressive, especially when you consider that three of their last five have ended in defeat. Four losses in their last nine games across all competitions is uninspiring form and Frank Lampard will be genuinely concerned that his young side have hit a proper slump. No matter the opponent or the occasion, Chelsea seem incapable of finding the rhythm that made them such a promising presence in October.
5. Big Dunc’s Big Impact
Everton were in wretched form when they finally sacked Marco Silva. The players didn’t shirk responsibility and it’s clear they regretted him getting sacked, but they also needed someone to galvanise them. Someone to take all these expensive imports and fuse them into a ferocious team that Everton are desperate to have.
Everton made 17 tackles in the first half against Chelsea, more than they made in any first half of a PL game under Marco Silva, Sam Allardyce or Ronald Koeman.
The Big Dunc effect. ™ pic.twitter.com/Qv6k4QNloX
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 7, 2019
And Everton were truly ferocious against Chelsea. They ran and ran, fighting for every single ball and making Chelsea’s lives a living hell. All but three Everton players made a tackle (Jordan Pickford, Theo Walcott and Richarlison) with full-backs Djibril Sidibé and Lucas Digne making a phenomenal game-high 7 tackles. No Chelsea player managed more than 3.
Michael Keane’s 8 clearances was a game-high, Sidibé’s 4 interceptions was a game-high. They just never stopped competing. Chelsea dominated the ball – Kurt Zouma’s 96 completed passes was almost as many as Everton’s entire team managed – but they did nothing with the ball whereas Everton used it so clinically.
“It’s one game, it’s one result,” said Ferguson after the game. So he knows to take things one game at a time, but this was one hell of a game to start things off.