After a rather bad February for Chelsea Football Club, they started off March with a 2-0 win against Liverpool in the FA Cup Fifth Round. It was an impressive win against the Premier League leaders, who have lost their third game in a row in all competitions.
Now Chelsea are back in the Premier League and are taking on Everton on Super Sunday. The Blues are still in the Top Four (in 4th place) with 45 out of 84 points in 28 matches (13W, 6D, 9L), while the Toffees are sitting mid-table (in 11th place) with 37 out of 84 points in 28 matches (10W, 7D, 11L). Also, Chelsea’s goal difference (eight) is bigger than Everton (-5), with the Blues having scored more and conceded less than the Toffees.
Having lost the away fixture in mid-December, what should we expect from the Toffees tomorrow?
Let’s start off by looking at Everton’s style of play and key players before making a prediction on their line-up.
EVERTON’S MANAGERIAL HISTORY
Everton have been struggling with an identity crisis since the departure of David Moyes to Manchester United in the summer of 2013. Their first manager since the departure of the Scotsman was Roberto Martinez, who led Wigan to an FA Cup trophy after beating Manchester City in the 2013 FA Cup Final. The Spaniard promised he would qualify Everton to a Champions League spot but failed to achieve the target. He was sacked in his third season following a mid-table finish in both the 2014/15 and 2015/16 seasons. Ronald Koeman was hired for the 2016/17 season following two impressive seasons at Southampton. While he was able to guide the Toffees to the Europa League in his first season, his failure to replace Romelu Lukaku for the 2017/18 season saw his team sacked in October 2017. Sam Allardyce came in as an interim manager, and despite his controversial style of play, he played to the players’ strengths and guided Everton from 13th to 8th place. Then came Marco Silva: he had an impressive few months at Watford but was sacked in January 2018 after losing his focus once he was being tracked by the Toffees in November. His first season was decent for the Toffees, but the departure of Idrissa Gueye to Paris Saint-Germain in the summer of 2019 saw them struggle in midfield and drop into relegation, leading to Silva’s sacking in December 2019. While Duncan Ferguson took over as caretaker for four games, Carlo Ancelotti was the prime target for Everton, and was signed by the end of the month (with Ferguson becoming his assistant manager).
EVERTON UNDER CARLO ANCELOTTI
Since the start of his coaching career, Carlo Ancelotti has implemented Arrigo Sacchi’s style of play, known for relentless pressing and favouring the 4-4-2 formation. Following his experience at Parma he made sure his system was more versatile and played to the strengths of his star players: Zidane at Juventus; Pirlo, Cafu, Shevchenko and more at AC Milan; Essien, Lampard, Drogba and more at Chelsea; Ronaldo and Di Maria at Real Madrid; Thiago at Bayern Munich.
STYLE OF PLAY
Now at Everton, the Italian manager’s main formation has the appearance of a 4-4-2 formation.
Offensively, the shape is more of a 3-1-4-2 formation: one of the central midfielders, usually the more defensive one, drops off into the centre-back positions to cover the back line and provide a back three (forcing the usual centre-backs into the wide areas); the full-backs push up the pitch into the midfield area to provide crossing opportunities for the forwards; the wingers drift into central midfield to provide more depth. At times one of the wingers will push outside, while the full-backs joins either the midfield or the forwards inside the box (creating a 3-4-1-2). While chances for the Toffees can be created with crosses from the wings, it can also be created by fast interplay between the attacking players. Should they struggle to unlock deep lying defences, they will use positional rotations to get past the back-line. However, Ancelotti’s positional rotation can leave Everton exposed down one flank, so fast counter-attacks and long balls down the wings is one way to break down the Toffees.
Defensively, the shape is a 4-4-2 formation, where he believes this formation provides the perfect level of horizontal and vertical compactness (a philosophy originating from Arrigo Sacchi). He also favours relentless pressing high up the pitch: one of the strikers presses (Dominic Calvert-Lewin) while the other waits for the right moment to press as well (Richarlison); in midfield the wingers push in more centrally to force the opposition to play out wide; the full-backs move into the wings for the high press (but only if the ball goes past the midfield via the wings), and are covered by the centre-backs tucking into the full-back positions or the central midfielders dropping deep. Should the ball move backwards, one of the midfielders (generally Gylfi Sigurðsson) would move into central attacking midfield and press, forcing the strikers to drift wide and allow for uniform pressing. However, should the opposition bypass the two midfield lines of press, then the Toffees will be caught out (Watford’s 2nd goal in their 3-2 defeat, or even Arsenal’s 2nd goal in their 3-2 victory are two perfect examples).
The first key player is Richarlison. The former América Mineiro Youth Academy product joined Fluminense for £2.1m in January 2016, before leaving 18 months later for Premier League side Watford for £11.2m. He then joined his former manager Marco Silva at Everton in the summer of 2018 for £40.5m. Since then he has featured regularly for the side as either a left-midfielder or a left-striker. Under Carlo Ancelotti, the 22-year-old forward is played as a left-striker. When Everton press, he generally sits off slightly to mark the diagonal passing and presses the right-back once that player has the ball. He has quite a free role, as the Italian manager allows him to sit back behind Calvert-Lewin or run ahead of the English striker to receive a key pass inside the box. He’s also able to threaten the opposition with his pace, skills and awareness (on and off the ball).
The next key player is Dominic Calvert-Lewin. The former Sheffield United Youth Academy product joined Everton in the summer of 2016 for £2.2m (he was 18 years old then). While he has been in and out of the Starting XI under Marco Silva, the 22-year-old is now a regular starter for the Toffees under Carlo Ancelotti. He’s able to threaten the opposition by pressing the ball carrier relentlessly, winning aerial duels, drawing fouls in dangerous positions, and opening up space with his off the ball movement (which in turn allows his strike partner to have more space to take his chances on goal).
At the moment it’s harder to pinpoint the weaknesses of these players as the Italian manager is playing to their strengths, but hopefully we’ll know a bit more in the next few months.
Now I will predict Everton’s Starting XI.
With the help of Duncan Ferguson as caretaker manager, and of Carlo Ancelotti since he arrived at the Merseyside club, Everton has risen from the relegation tier (18th place) to mid-table (11th place), with only 5 points from the Top 6 spot. The players are also enjoying themselves, especially Calvert-Lewin who has scored 8 goals in his last 10 Premier League matches.
Team wise Seamus Coleman (muscle), Morgan Schneiderlin (torn meniscus) and Jean-Philippe Gbamin (quadriceps) are injured for tomorrow’s game.
As for the line-up for the Toffees, it’s very easy to predict that the 4-4-2 formation will be used, but some personnel choices will have to be considered: Moise Kean in the Starting XI or on the bench; Alex Iwobi or Theo Walcott; Tom Davies or Fabian Delph; Leighton Baines or Lucas Digne; Mason Holgate, Micheal Keane or Yerry Mina as the two centre-backs. In the end I decided to predict this line-up:
And that concludes my Everton scouting report! If you’ve enjoyed it, don’t forget to like and share this article!
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