Everton vs Chelsea: Five things we learned as hosts secure impressive win in Duncan Ferguson’s first game

Harry Latham-Coyle
The Independent
Dominic Calvert-Lewin celebrates Everton's opener: Getty
Dominic Calvert-Lewin celebrates Everton's opener: Getty

1. Duncan Ferguson’s bold selection

Installed as interim manager after the departure of Marco Silva, Duncan Ferguson had the unenviable task of clarifying an Everton lineup that has looked increasingly muddled in recent weeks.

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Silva had played around with a five at the back recently, but Ferguson opted for a classical 4-4-2, bringing Theo Walcott and Morgan Schneiderlin back into his side with Yerry Mina absent due to injury.

It was a bold selection, not least in midfield. Instead of pairing Schneiderlin with the more defensive Tom Davies, Ferguson opted to utilise Gylfi Sigurdsson in a deeper role.

Without the extra cover at the back, this was a brave choice, particularly against a Chelsea side so proficient in attack.

Yet the move allowed Ferguson to select a potent forward line, with Alex Iwobi and Theo Walcott down the flanks and the dangerous Richarlison pushed close to Dominic Calvert-Lewin in a front two. These positional tweaks paid immediate dividends...

2. Everton’s fast start

After a turbulent week that saw a last-minute defeat, a Merseyside Derby humbling and the sacking of Marco Silva, you could have perhaps forgiven Everton for trying to ease themselves into this game.

Instead they came charging out of the blocks, with Richarlison heading home inside five minutes.

The Brazilian’s header concluded a lovely forward move sparked by a nice pass through the lines by Sigurdsson from deep, with Richarlison first combining with forward partner Calvert-Lewin before finding a hole and latching on to Djibril Sidibe’s well-place cross to find an opening goal.

It was immediate vindication for Ferguson’s selection and another reminder of Chelsea’s fragility defensively.

3. Jorginho’s stabilising presence missed in midfield

Frank Lampard again opted to leave Jorginho on the bench at Goodison Park after similarly excluding the midfielder in the win over Aston Villa, but this looked an unwise choice in the first half.

The Italian international is far form the perfect midfielder, but he is a vital cog in Lampard’s side, a metronomic passer and intelligent occupier of space defensively, and Chelsea struggled to dictate the tempo in the first half despite having three-quarters of the possession.

It was defensively, however, that Jorginho was missed the most. With N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic as a deeper double pivot and Mason Mount slightly ahead, Chelsea’s midfield looked slightly unsure of their positioning throughout, with Kante and Kovacic at times dragged wide and Mount keen to move forward.

After seeming to settle on a first-choice side during the winning run, Lampard seems to have let the defeat to West Ham cloud his thinking, rather than dismiss it as an aberration and keep faith with the side that had propelled Chelsea towards the top.

Why Fikayo Tomori now finds himself behind both fit-again Andreas Christensen and Kurt Zouma is unclear – the pair did not cover themselves in glory for Richarlison’s opener with a great gaping hole left for the Brazilian to push into. The pair hardly covered themselves in glory for Calvert-Lewin’ second, either.

Everton celebrate Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s first goal against Chelsea (Getty)
Everton celebrate Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s first goal against Chelsea (Getty)

It is possible that neither retains their place in the long-term, with Antonio Rudiger nearing a return and Tomori surely deserving of a place in the centre-back partnership.

4. Mateo Kovacic’s strange but superb finish

Chelsea needed to reply quickly to Calvert-Lewin’s goal with the game threatening to slip away fully.

They had failed to create many clear chances in the first half, and their goal eventually came from a half-chance, with Kovacic finishing superbly from 25 yards.

It was an odd goal, with the sort of finish relatively rarely seen. While most would have tried to blast the dropping ball goalwards with the laces or contort their body to slam an awkward volley, the Croatian opted for a controlled caress towards the corner.

It was wonderfully guided, utilising the shielding presence of the bodies between Jordan Pickford and the ball to find the space at the near post and the bottom corner. It was a lovely goal from Kovacic finished with real skill and thought that rather belied his poor scoring record – he only got off the mark for Chelsea against Valencia last month.

5. Ferguson does his chances no harm with excellent first game in charge

Duncan Ferguson celebrates Everton’s third goal (Getty)
Duncan Ferguson celebrates Everton’s third goal (Getty)

It remains unlikely that Duncan Ferguson will be thrust into the post of Everton manager on a more permanent basis, but he did his chances no harm in his first game in interim charge.

With a bold but strong initial selection, Ferguson managed to motivate a set of players perhaps enjoying a fresh voice, and he adapted well as the game changed in the second half. His gleeful, celebratory cavorting down the touchline was a highlight, too.

While it seems Everton may look for a more experienced manager to fully steady things, Ferguson should at least be regarded as a credible contender.

He has, of course, a real connection with the fans at Goodison Park, and that could well be useful. He should certainly be considered.

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