Chelsea come to L4 today having won both opening games. Here’s how they lined up at Leicester last week:
Unsurprisingly, Cesc Fabregas has immediately become the hub of the side. I tried looking at the highlights to see the fluidity of the set up, but as per, MOTD came up short. Instead, I found Fabregas’s personal highlight reel against Leicester. It was much more interesting and revealing:
The whole things looks pretty slow – mainly because Leicester only bothered pressing strongly when the ball was loose or it was on the edge of their area. As soon as Chelsea got settled on the ball Leicester just dropped off. It’s unlikely Everton will be this passive.
The Blues obviously couldn’t field Lukaku in either game against Chelsea last season – he was still at Chelsea for the Goodison game and then loan restrictions prevented him turning out against his parent club at the Bridge. As with last week, Lukaku’s role will be massive. As with last week, I think he should start out on the right again. Here’s why:
The opening day game against Leicester showed exactly what Barkley brings to the side. Barkley’s ability to receive the ball and turn to face play quickly is super valuable in gaining territory quickly. To compensate for this against the Foxes, Lukaku dropped a bit deeper and played with his back to goal. Everton dominated the ball but this is Lukaku’s shot map for the game:
I’m pretty sure this isn’t what Everton bought the Belgian to do. It’s likely that Terry and Cahill will eat him up if he plays this role again, especially with Matic buzzing around on the ground. I’d much rather this old skool centre back pairing had Naismith nuisancing in and out of their zone disrupting the line.
The passing network above shows that Chelsea’s left is bigger during build up with Hazard often the final destination. Lukaku wide right will disrupt that and Hazard won’t relish having to follow Coleman going the other way. On the other flank, Ivanovic powerful forays will upset Baines.
In any case, the fact that Martinez will not lie down concerns me because Fabregas is just the man to exploit Everton’s channels when moves break down. The Spaniard will take any chance to play a vertical ball over a horizontal one:
Everton have looked shaky and unprepared when defending anything remotely vertical:
Might we see Besic for the first time today in an attempt to look after Fabregas? The Bosnian did a man-to-man job of sorts on Messi at the World Cup. Everton’s best chance of a result is to go toe to toe with Chelsea. However, it may also lead to things getting very Messi at the back.
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