No width, No creativity, No points: Five Things We Learned from Chelsea’s Defeat against Everton.
On a day when the Manchester clubs dropped points and on a night of warm reunions, Frank Lampard would be ruing the opportunity to not only go top of the table, albeit temporarily, but pull ahead of their top four and, possibly, title rivals. Chelsea slumped to a 1-0 defeat on Merseyside against a resilient Everton team that had lost its way after a brilliant start to their Premier League campaign. A Gylfi Sigurdsson penalty was enough for the Toffees to seal their third consecutive win against Chelsea at Goodison Park and, in the process, end Chelsea’s 17 game unbeaten run. The game was devoid of any real creativity throughout, with both sides missing key players, and, ultimately, Everton’s defence stood firm against waves of Chelsea attacks. Here are the five things we learned from the game:
- Edouard Mendy is human after all
Edouard Mendy has enjoyed a near faultless start to life in West London, keeping clean sheets for fun and making brilliant saves in the process. Such was his form that it prompted Bayern Munich captain and goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer, to even label him ‘world class.’ That being said, however, Mendy has well and truly got a reality check in the past week. He’s been at fault for the last two goals Chelsea have conceded and, while his failure to read Kalvin Phillips’ inch-perfect pass didn’t cost his side dearly, his silly foul on Calvert-Lewin did; as it ended Chelsea’s impressive unbeaten run in all competitions. The Senegal international needlessly clattered into Everton’s no. 9 giving away the penalty, which Sigurdsson duly converted for the only goal of the game. While it’s only human to make mistakes, with a brutal run of fixtures on the horizon for Chelsea, Mendy would want to make amends immediately, starting with another tough away day for Frank Lampard’s men against Wolverhampton Wanderers.
- Time to bring the 5-sub rule back?
Jurgen Klopp argues almost on a weekly basis. Pep Guardiola points this out in almost every pre and post-match conference and, now, even Frank Lampard called for the 5-subs rule to be brought back last night, in his post-match interview. This is no regular season of football and everyone acknowledges that. Both Chelsea and Everton missed key players last night and it’s evident that, with other leagues continuing the 5-sub rule, the Premier League needs to follow suit. Chelsea without natural wingers and Everton without their recognized fullbacks, this was a game that lacked creativity and width. Ultimately, everything good Chelsea did came from their fullbacks. If only they had wingers to complement them. The amount of rise in muscular and non-contact injuries among players is there for everyone to see. Is it time for the powers at the top in England to reconsider and bring the 5-sub rule back? Evidence certainly merits a rethink.
- Reece James, the best right back in the league?
On a night where not many Chelsea players came out with flying colours, Reece James was a wonderful exception. The Englishman forced Pickford into making a very good save from his free-kick before hitting the post with his dynamite of a strike. James was a livewire throughout the game, not giving Richarlison a moment’s peace and going forward; he gave Ben Godfrey a lot to think about. Easily Chelsea’s best player on a dull night, the former Wigan loanee has been outstandingly consistent this season and may very well be the best right back in the league right now. His two shots on target were the most by any Blues player at Goodison Park and accounted for 66.7% of all Chelsea shots on target. England has an embarrassment of riches at right back but James’ performances this season surely puts him as the strongest challenger to Trent Alexander-Arnold for that coveted spot.
- Patience is key with Kai Havertz
With all the fanfare with which he arrived, it’s easy to forget Kai Havertz is merely a 21-year-old kid who’s moved countries and leagues for the first time. Havertz made a solid but unspectacular start to his Chelsea career before getting down with COVID-19. The disease, as we’ve all come to know, affected the German more severely than most, as confirmed by Lampard, and his return from it has been far from smooth. His performances against Leeds United, Krasnodar and Everton were mediocre, at best, but the physical and mental toll COVID takes, it’s somewhat understandable. After all, we’ve seen this before with Paul Pogba, who’s just about starting to get back in shape and putting in quality performances with Man Utd after a bout with COVID-19. Moving to a new country, adjusting to its culture and adapting to a new league and playing in a team where you’re not the only star player is definitely not an easy thing to do. While rival fans will certainly have a field day on social media, patience is required with Havertz. The expectations are understandably very high, and the performances will come with a run of games under his belt once he gets back to his best physically. Lampard is certainly not losing sleep over his performances.
- Response required against a struggling Wolves side
Let’s be honest, Chelsea were the second best team against Everton. The Goodison Park hoodoo reared its ugly head, with Chelsea losing their third consecutive game on Merseyside after a rare uninspiring performance. Chelsea lacked any sort of cohesion in midfield and in attack and rarely threatened Jordan Pickford’s goal. This was underlined by the fact that Chelsea only had 3 shots on target and all 3 came from defenders (James 2, Zouma 1). In fact, Chelsea failed to register a shot on target after the 28th minute which summed up their blunt performance on the night. The expectations are sky high at Stamford Bridge after a summer splurge from the Blues and, while a loss against a good Everton side is not the end of the world, Frank Lampard and his side will be keen to put the night behind them and prove this game, that saw their unbeaten run end, was a one-off than anything else. Next up for the Blues is another tough away game against Wolves at the Molineux. Nuno Espirito Santo’s men are on a bad run of form lately and will be without key players from last season with Raul Jimenez out injured, Joao Moutinho suspended and Diogo Jota and Matt Doherty leaving for Liverpool and Spurs respectively. Now is probably the best time to face them but Lampard will be wary of the threat they pose and the quality they still have. The fans need a response from the players and the boss to put the disappointment behind them and continue their march towards the top end of the table.
Written by- Manan Rindani (@MananCFC)
Cover photo- Sky Sports