Chelsea 5-0 Everton: How 3-4-3 transformed us last season - The Chelsea Chronicle

Chelsea 5-0 Everton: How 3-4-3 transformed us last season

For the travelling Toffees’ to make the 400 mile round trip to West London & back then witness a thrashing of this proportion their reactions would be irate to say the least. Ronald Koeman made a brave yet logical attempt to counter Chelsea’s back three by deploying his own but maybe sticking to what works best for Everton would’ve left Chelsea without a sorrowful feeling.

Eden Hazard’s influence

It is no secret that Eden Hazard is Chelsea’s chief creator, as he is given a proportionate amount of responsibility when it comes to formulating chances. Hazard bagged two very well worked goals during the game & his form was no fluke either, as the second goal was his 7th for the season which was more than twice as many goals scored at the same stage in two seasons (3).

A key contribution to Everton’s downfall was that they were always either too focused or too relaxed when it came to defending against Eden Hazard. Get too close and it frees  up Diego Costa & Pedro, stand off too much & Hazard scores. Both scenarios hit Everton negatively as they could never strike a right balance to counter the Belgian’s ever-present threat. The encouraged free movement of Chelsea’s front three meant the home side could pick & choose their targets when they came towards the goal. Granted, Chelsea’s attacking movement was the main reason as to why they put Everton to the sword but Hazard’s license to roam enables him to operate so effectively as displayed by his 4.06 take ons per game (the most of any Chelsea winger throughout the season). During his post-match comments, a defeated Ronald Koeman stated that Chelsea’s system was very difficult to play against so credit must be given where credit is due as Antonio Conte had turned Chelsea from pitiful men into fighting footballers once more. If there was such a player to epitomise this transition it would be Eden Hazard, as no one at Chelsea had seen such a change in fortune.

Everton Pressing

Everton went with a zonal marking approach & would press in relation to the passing options available to the man on the ball. A key issue with this system is that intelligent movement can cause problems & this is exactly what Chelsea did. Eden Hazard & Pedro would occasionally link up with Costa to create a 2v1 overload in order to gain a numerical superiority closer to Everton’s goal.

In what resembled a 5-3-2, two of Everton’s crucial attacking components were out of position; these were the more attack minded Ross Barkley playing as the outside midfielder & the skillful Yannick Bolasie being deployed as a striker. Admittedly, this was done in order to maintain Everton’s attacking threat but it is risky to play players out of position as they can find themselves in situations they’d hope to avoid or suffer lapses of concentration (as Barkley did).

As Koeman had identified Hazard as Chelsea’s main threat, Everton’s back line was tasked with being extra cautious when defending against him. However, this meant that if Chelsea’s front 3 vacated the right areas at the right time it would open up passing lanes Everton would prefer to keep closed. It resulted in many goal scoring opportunities for the home side, with Alonso’s goal being a result of Hazard shaking off two markers with one quick turn. Everton’s uncoordinated & lethargic pressing gave Chelsea too long on the ball & ultimately it caused their own downfall.

 Moses’ flank domination

A man reborn, Victor Moses surprised many people as he transformed from an inconsistent winger to a very able wing back. His speed, strength & concentration give him the attributes for the role but tactically he has been even more impressive as he times his forward runs to perfection in order not to get caught out. As Pedro usually likes to drift inside, Moses tends to be given more room to exploit in the attacking third. This is beneficial for Chelsea as he can provide a cross which in turn benefits Diego Costa’s aerial prowess. Furthermore he is rarely beaten in 1v1 situations which is imperative as it is important to ensure the much slower Gary Cahill isn’t beaten for pace. When put up against Bryan Ovideo, Victor Moses showed who was the rookie wing back as Oviedo was regularly pegged back by the Nigerian & made Everton’s defence look more like a back 5 rather than a back 3. Although Marcos Alonso is also a very good wing back, Victor Moses is better equipped going forward as his knowledge from his days as a winger enable him to know what a full back should expect, making it harder to be beaten by his man & easier to launch a counter attack.

Chelsea were steamrolling through their opponents & Everton were just collateral damage. Antonio Conte’s 3-4-3 was decimating opponents with ease as they took on all comers whilst displaying no signs of letting up. Everton’s team was made to look ineffective & weak when in actual fact Chelsea’s non-relenting energy simply played them off the park. Conte had made light work of his time in charge & even though it was a daunting job, it was now an Italian job.