Sunday’s afternoon clash against Everton will be another tricky test for Frank Lampard and his men, as Chelsea lost to the Toffees last December in the reverse fixture at Goodisson Park. The Blues were blown away by Everton’s high-energy performance, and considering this is a must win for Chelsea in order to keep Champions League football, they will have to match and exceed that energy this time around.
Despite Everton’s dreadful start to the season, the arrival of Carlo Ancelotti in December has transformed the Toffee’s and positive results have ensued that they’ve managed to pick up eight points in their last five games.
The previous fixture saw Everton utilize a 4-4-2 formation with the intent to soak up pressure while allowing Chelsea to dominate with their attacking game. The approach was very successful as they were able to quickly break-out in transitions and cause devastation to Chelsea full-back Cesar Azpilicueta. The Toffees will aim to pick at the vulnerabilities of the defense, especially exploiting space left open from fullbacks advancing in offensive transitions. Keeping a clean sheet has been a constant struggle for Lampard’s side, and Duncan Ferguson (filling in as manager for this match due to Ancelotti’s red card against United) will be fully aware and prepared to take advantage.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin, the centerpiece for Everton’s rigid attack, is known for showing drive and hunger for racking-up goals for his side. He is often deployed as the centre forward, while Brazilian forward Richarlison sits behind Lewin in that second striker role. This role that Calvert-Lewin has been implemented in allows him to be a goal-poaching striker, which takes the pressure off of Richarlison. Due to the style of play, when Everton are on the break they always poise a threat with Lewin’s pace and ability to find himself in the opposition’s box. He has become competent at reading both defenders and the ball, and consistently finds himself in the right spot. The 22-year-old Englishman was instrumental in Everton’s draw with Manchester United, scoring his fifth goal in six games, and 15th in all competitions this season.
Ancelotti recently said that Calvert-Lewin has the potential to become one of the best strikers in Europe, and supported his England call-up for friendlies later this month. Previous matches have illustrated Chelsea’s defensive weaknesses, and there is no doubt Everton and Lewin in particular will be looking to exploit them. Whichever back-line Frank decides to use should be wary of his threats, as any slip of concentration could be costly.