Chelsea's 6-3 win over Everton at Goodison Park was a surprisingly open and sloppy affair. Roberto Martinez and Jose Mourinho are both managers that meticulously prepare tactics for individual opponents and neither would have instructed or wanted their respective side's to turn this into a wide open shootout. The two league matches between the sides last season both ended with 1-0 wins for the home team. Another match between two well-organized outfits was expected yesterday.
Chelsea's two goals inside the opening three minutes from Diego Costa and Ivanovic came from the Everton back four stepping forward too late to draw the visitors offside. Costa's opener highlighted the new threat he brings to Chelsea's attack. Too often last season Mourinho's side lacked a vertical threat in behind the opposition defense. Costa is happy to make those runs and his work rate off the ball is prodigious. He's strong and powerful enough to play with his back to goal and mobile enough to work the channels and dart in behind the defense. We saw all of those aspects of his game yesterday.
At 2-0 up away from home Chelsea unsurprisingly dropped deeper into an organized defensive shape and allowed Everton to have the bulk of possession. For the first time in the league this season Mourinho used two defensive players in the deep midfield roles, Matic and Ramires, and moved Fabregas higher up the pitch in the #10 role. With Ramires and Matic providing a shield for the back four, Chelsea would have been confident in their ability to deal with Everton's forays into the attacking third then exploit space on the break. For 41 minutes the game went the way Mourinho would have wanted- Chelsea looked relatively comfortable defending despite Everton having more of the ball. Mirallas's opener on the stroke of halftime from a Seamus Coleman cross after a beautifully worked move entirely changed the course of the match. With Everton re-energized and getting increased numbers forward to chase the equalizer, the game really opened up.
Everton deserve credit for how they stretched the Chelsea defense using the full width of the pitch. They switched the point of attack from side to side, forcing Matic and Ramires away from the middle towards the channels to offer support when Everton overloaded those areas with the wide midfielders and overlapping fullbacks. The two Chelsea holding midfielders were therefore far more stretched than they'd have wanted to be and Everton were able to find gaps in the midfield.
Everton's problems of course stemmed from poor team defending. Their defensive shape was too loose, leaving too much space for Chelsea's dangerous attackers to expose. On three separate occasions they scored to cut Chelsea's lead to a goal. It was vitally important they shore up the defense and remain within touching distance but they were too careless in pressing for the equalizer on each of those occassions. Conceding five minutes and then one minute after cutting the visitor's lead to one would have been maddeningly frustrating for Martinez. It was testament to his side's character that they continued to fight back but that won't diminish the fact this was a chaotic and undisciplined performance.
Only Chelsea and Manchester City conceded fewer goals than Everton last season. They've already conceded 10 in three games, worst in the Premier League. Most frustratingly for Martinez, they've played well for large chunks of the three matches but have been undone by short spells of lapses. They'll be disappointed with two points from three but have showed enough to suggest they can have another successful season.
Mourinho will be irritated with his side's inability to close the contest out earlier. Efficient game management is something he demands from his sides and Chelsea failed on that front yesterday. However, he'll be pleased to get a result from a very tricky away fixture and will be thrilled with the immediate impact of Costa. He lamented Chelsea's lack of in form striker last season and appears to have addressed that problem with Costa.