Everton supporters returned to Goodison Park for the first time in nine months, and their team produced a performance that has been a long time coming to defeat Chelsea.
It was back in March when Everton were on the receiving end of a chastening 4-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge and Frank Lampard’s side inflicted an unhappy return for Carlo Ancelotti to his former club.
That day, Gylfi Sigurdsson was played out of position on the left as part of a 4-4-2 system that was easily picked off by the hosts as Mason Mount, Pedro, Willian and Olivier Giroud all scored in a convincing home win.
For Ancelotti it was a reality check following his promising start to life on Merseyside, and a reminder of his side’s progress being in its infancy.
For the disgruntled Evertonians who streamed out onto the Fulham Road that spring afternoon, little did they know it would be a further nine months before some of them would witness their team again in the flesh, faced with the same opposition.
Chelsea are vastly improved this season, and while Lampard admitted more nights like these will occur as his side transition into Premier League title contenders, Ancelotti will take plenty of encouragement on an evening when the Italian’s managerial experience came to the fore.
Absorb pressure and pounce
Having not kept a clean sheet since the opening weekend, it was noticeable from the first whistle that Everton had set up to be more compact.
In the same way that Morgan Schneiderlin and Sigurdsson were deployed as deep-lying midfielders in the 3-1 win over Chelsea 12 months ago, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Allan were told to screen the back four with Sigurdsson playing in his preferred No 10 position behind Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
Richarlison and Alex Iwobi were tasked with providing protection for Ben Godfrey and Mason Holgate in the full-back positions and the game plan was to catch Chelsea on the counter-attack or from dead-ball situations.
Allan’s tenacity helped Everton regain the ball on 11 occasions, while Doucoure produced a disciplined display alongside him to limit the influence of Mount.
Everton had 28 per cent possession, their lowest on record in a single Premier League match they went on to win. But in absorbing Chelsea’s best efforts, the tactic to contain and counter worked a treat.
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