MANAGER-LESS Everton host Chelsea on Saturday at Goodison Park. Jack Lambden (@_JackL_) analyses the encounter.
Everton v Chelsea | Saturday 4th December 2019, 12:30 | BT Sport
Everton embark on life without Marco Silva, who failed to live up to ambitious owner Farhad Moshiri's expectations and that of the Toffees fans, with the final nail in the coffin coming at the home of arch rivals Liverpool.
Despite spending over £100m on new players in the summer transfer window, Silva took Everton backwards as his supposed high press style morphed into a team playing without an identity and lacking a cutting edge. A squad of mainly technical players has now suffered eight defeats in their last 11 games, ironically the same run of form that Silva ended his tenure as Watford manager with.
The Toffees have been dragged into a relegation dogfight that they should be nowhere near but ultimately the money spent on signings did not translate into a cohesive, exciting team to watch. Instead, performances have been turgid and the midweek defeat to the red half of Merseyside typified what Everton fans have come to expect – big name players going through the motions and failing to deliver on the big occasion.
In truth, Silva's reputation was already questionable by the time he arrived at Goodison Park, with Watford’s form dipping dramatically once the Portuguese was linked with the club. That aforementioned final run of defeats meant he was shown the door, the Hornets therefore missing out on any compensation and offloading a man with a measly 30% win record from his time at the club.
The money Silva was backed with was on the proviso that Everton would begin to challenge for the illustrious top four spots in the Premier League but in truth, they haven’t come close. The team’s record against the sides they were looking to finish above, namely Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal read just three wins in 15 during Silva’s reign which continued to sour the young manager’s standing.
Duncan Ferguson has taken caretaker charge of the team for Saturday’s game as the board look for a long-term replacement. Ferguson was known for his aggression during his playing days and will want his troops to show some of that fight in front of the Goodison faithful.
The 4-2-3-1, a formation deployed in all four of Everton’s wins this season, could return, but whichever system the temporary boss does decide to go with, he’ll be sure to keep Richarlison as the focal point of the team as the Brazilian has scored or assisted seven of the Toffees’ 15 league goals this term.
Chelsea back in business
In the opposite dugout, Frank Lampard has made a steady start to life in his dream job. The run of successive league defeats came to an end in midweek with a 2-1 win over Aston Villa, which saw top scorer Tammy Abraham return.
The team looked leggy against West Ham just days after a pulsating Champions League game in Valencia but the odd performance like that is always likely with the high energy style Lampard has adopted. Rotation is quite possible here and some changes could be forced after Willian and Abraham limped off during the Villa game, but the latter should shake off that knock in time to be fit.
Chelsea have the second-highest Expected Goals (xG) total in the Premier League away from Stamford Bridge which has led to 19 goals, eight more than their home total. The front four managed 19 shots between them in the Villa game and had they taken more of those chances, the scoreline would have been more comfortable than it ended up being at full-time.
The goal flow away from home compared to in SW6 can probably be attributed to the way teams set-up against Lampard’s men, sitting deeper which does not necessarily suit this young Chelsea squad who prefer an open game where they can be at their creative best.
Although this openness means that Chelsea have conceded quite regularly on their travels, I think they’ve have far too much for an Everton team that they look poles apart from currently. However, with only one away clean sheet in the Premier League in nearly a year and none yet this season, there’s a bit more to be gained from backing Chelsea to win and Both Teams To Score at 11/4 with Bet365.
Eleven of these side’s last 14 games have seen both teams find the back of the net but with Chelsea’s more potent firepower, it’s hard to look past them picking up three points in a high-scoring encounter.
Mount to make his mark
A player who is having a superb season is Portsmouth-born Mason Mount. The 20-year-old’s shots per-match average rises to three in away games and since featuring in the number 10 role, as Mount has been able to further improve his partnership with Abraham and get more efforts on goal away.
In Mount’s last five games that he has played 70 or more minutes, he has registered 5, 3, 4, 5 and 3 shots respectively and it’s a market I’d like to exploit again.
With William likely to miss the match and Mount therefore prime contender to replace the Brazilian on free-kick duty, the 6/4 at Coral on Mount to have at least two shots from outside the box looks a good way to go.
Of those 20 shots I mentioned, 14 were from outside the area and given that the rotating threesome of N'Golo Kante Kante, Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho protect the back four, it gives Mount less defensive responsibility and therefore the freedom to focus on the best side of his game – creating and scoring.
This should be an entertaining affair but it’s one that I think Chelsea can get the better of.