“Remember, remember the 5th of November…” but after watching a horror show almost as bad as anything served up last season — the margin of defeat may not have been as big at Anfield in April but nothing could be worse than Everton’s utter capitulation in the last Merseyside derby — every Evertonian will want to forget this match as quickly possible. You’re left hoping though that it will come to represent a painful but important marker in the story of this season that we’ll look back on in the future as some sort of turning point.
You’ve got to believe that our heaviest defeat since the 6-1 humiliation at home to Arsenal in 2009 marks an early nadir for Ronald Koeman’s tenure; an evening when the Toffees came up against a Chelsea team at the very top of its game, and in full flow following four successive victories won with 11 unanswered goals; an occasion where both teams got exactly what they deserved and Koeman will have learned an awful lot about what he’s got and what he still needs.
Make no mistake, Chelsea were excellent — genuine-title-contenders excellent — to the point where you found yourself wondering which was more frightening: just how much better Chelsea were in every department or just how badly Everton played. For as good as the home side were, Everton were atrocious in the context of the strong start they made under Koeman, the money he has spent and his European aspirations.
A solitary effort on goal in the entire 90 minutes was the sum total of Everton’s attacking efforts which, even allowing for Chelsea’s superiority and dominance, is fairly damning. Ross Barkley, seemingly rejuvenated by his performance against West Ham, was occasionally involved but largely ineffective; a couple of early forays apart Yannick Bolasie, the Blues’ chief supplier in recent weeks, was anonymous until he was substituted for Aaron Lennon who wasn’t much better; Tom Cleverley was mobile and willing but offered a pale imitation of the suspended Idrissa Gueye; and Kevin Mirallas, a 36th-minute introduction in place of Bryan Oviedo as Koeman ditched his three-man defence, showed brief promise before lapsing into an all-too familiar lack of end product.
And then there was Romelu Lukaku who shared the pre-match limelight with Diego Costa as the press billed a clash between two of the Premier League’s star strikers but was ultimately and completely eclipsed by the Spanish international. The contrast between the two in terms of style, role in the team and effectiveness was stark in a game in which the Belgian’s touch, when he wasn’t vainly chasing shadows, largely deserted him and he looked clumsy and isolated.
Costa, on the other hand, recovered from a heavy Seamus Coleman tackle that drew blood through his sock to lead Chelsea’s line with purpose and drive, setting up the first goal, scoring the third, forcing a decent save from Maarten Stekelenburg, driving another effort into the side netting, and nearly making it 6-0 before Ashley Williams denied him with a terrific last-ditch tackle.
That last moment was indicative of what was a chequered outing for Williams who, like Phil Jagielka and Ramiro Funes Mori, looked all at sea trying to adjust to the 3-5-2 formation Koeman seemed to have deployed. The Welsh skipper looked consummate cart-horse centre-half (with all the speed and grace of one) for spells but was in others the only defender who really seemed to be carrying out his duties. Jagielka, sadly, followed up on his faltering displays at the Etihad and Turf Moor with more worrying evidence that he has "gone", in the Osman, Pienaar and Howard sense of the word.
That confusion over positioning was certainly evident for Chelsea’s first goal though as Eden Hazard picked up Costa’s pass into the left channel just as the retreating Coleman tried to switch places with Williams and cut the Belgian midfielder off at the byline. It was all the invitation Hazard needed to cut inside onto his right foot and aim a shot at the far corner. Stekelenburg should have saved it but was slow to get his arms down, the ball flew under them and inside the upright.
Unforgivably, Everton lost the ball at the restart and 24 seconds later, the ball was in the back of Stekelenburg’s net again. Hazard was the beneficiary, picking it up in the centre circle, sliding a pass between Funes Mori and Oviedo to Pedro who centred it first time where Marco Alonso arrived to side-foot through the goalkeeper’s legs.
That double-blow made it 2-0 with just 20 minutes gone and there was no way back for Everton with Antonio Conte’s men in this kind of mood. It was almost 3-0 11 minutes before the break when Alonso’s chipped cross picked out Victor Moses but the reborn Nigerian slammed a first-time shot off the outside of the post. The inevitable arrived eight minutes later, however, when all of the practice defending set-pieces that Koeman said had been a focus this week at Finch Farm was unravelled by a near-post flick-on by Nemanja Matic that ended at the feet of Costa, unmarked at the back of the area. Slow to react, Lukaku just waved his foot meekly in front of the Brazilian-born striker as he buried a first-time shot into the vacant net behind him.
If there’s one thing that seems to have been lost in the transition between the Martinez and Koeman eras it’s Everton’s ability to pass and move the ball consistently. While the Catalan’s modus operandi was overkill possession, the Dutchman appears to have built the current team to counter-attack which means it’s no longer adept at keeping the ball for any sustained period.
Nonetheless, they made a pretty good fist of trying to settle things down in the first few minutes of the second half with some confidence-inspiring ball-retention, even if it didn’t get them close to the opposition goal. Then, as if to further illustrate the differences between the two teams, as soon as Chelsea got it back and mounted their first attack they almost scored, Williams snuffing out an opportunity for Costa after he had driven straight through the heart of the visitors’ midfield.
Where Everton searched in vain for space and willing runners, Conte’s team were all pace, movement and guile and they always seemed to have a man over. However grudgingly Evertonians admit it, their fourth goal was a thing of beauty. Hazard played a one-two with Pedro who back-heeled the ball back to him brilliantly and with Williams back on his heels, the diminutive Belgian cut across him and drilled a low shot inside the near post with Stekelenburg rooted to the spot.
By that stage it was merely a question of how many Chelsea would score. Lennon replaced Bolasie on the hour mark but little changed and more trickery from Hazard almost served up goal no.5 for Costa but though the striker connected with his chipped cross with a volley, Stekelenburg parried it over the bar.
Two minutes later it was 5-0. Lukaku was unable to bring in a return ball from Barry in the Chelsea half and when it was turned over back to the hosts, Costa hared off again towards the Toffees’ area and laid a pass off to Hazard once more. His shot was saved by Stekelenburg but the ball dropped straight to Pedro who had the simple task of tapping in from close range.
Surprisingly, that ended the scoring for Conte’s side but there would be nothing in the way of a consolation goal for the away fans to take back to Merseyside. Tom Davies came on for Barry following the latter’s booking a few minutes earlier for a frustrated late tackle on Pedro and came off the pitch at the final whistle as arguably Everton’s man of the match, doing his chances of replacing the suspended Barry against Swansea no harm at all.
He won the corner from which Mirallas narrowly missed with a glancing header that drifted inches over the angle of crossbar and post but asking more of an 18-year-old defensive midfielder was probably too much. Instead it was Chelsea who almost added to the scoreline, Luiz forcing an acrobatic finger-tip save from Stekelenburg and Moses then being denied by the Dutch ‘keeper in stoppage time.
International breaks have become painfully inconvenient and unwanted disruptions to the flow of the Premier League season but Everton will surely welcome this one as an opportunity to reset and refocus after an awful result. If Koeman does anything, he and his staff should study the tapes from Everton’s visits to Manchester City and Chelsea and analyse firstly, the difference between today’s porous calamity of a defence and the tenacious, space-defying back line that contained City so effectively last month; and, secondly, how those two opposition teams move the ball so effectively with speed and precision.
A home game against struggling Swansea will offer another chance to return to winning ways and regain some momentum but it’s days like today that underline in no uncertain terms just how far Everton have to go to match the likes of Chelsea in terms of quality. In that respect, Koeman has a long road ahead on what he has openly admitted has a two-year time horizon but in the meantime he has to do better at getting the most out of what he already has at his disposal. On this evidence, there is far more room for improvement than we realised.
Ronald Koeman's side were left badly burnt as Chelsea lit up Stamford Bridge like a bonfire with a scalding display of consummate football that the yellow shirts had no answer to.
Ronald Koeman's side for the evening clash at Stamford Bridge included Tom Cleverley as expected for the suspended Idrissa Gueye.
Koeman started with three centre-backs, Funes Mori retaining his place as skipper Phil Jagielka returns to the side. Kevin Mirallas was dropped to the bench where Tom Davies hasd been elevated from the Under-23s. Stekelenburg returns in goal.
Everton kicked off in their yellow shirts but soon gave the ball away through a bad Barry pass and the pressure was on. But it was inconsistent play from each side until Lukaku tried to wriggle free and run with the ball but David Luiz was across to snuff out the danger.
Williams was clumsy in pulling down Hazard and after the free-kick, Coleman had to lunge in on Costa, catching his ankle right in front of the ref... play on! No yellow card.
Costa lay writhing, needing treatment, and eventually hobbled back on. Chelsea undeterred attacked with some force, yellow shirts chasing shadows in a panic-striken defence. When the visitors did try and break, their passing let them down badly.
Bolasie felled Moses and earned the first yellow card, the kick well overhit by Chelsea as the Everton defenders were keeping the home side at bay. But on their next attack, some Hazard magic saw Williams beaten and then Stekelenburg at the far post, Pedro perhaps unsighting him unfairly (offside). And less than a minute later, Alonso made it 2-0 through Stekelenburg's legs. Shockingly poor defending from Everton.
Everton tried a slow build-up, Coleman's cross coming to Lukaku but his form was all wrong. Bolasie then almost got forward before Oviedo gave the ball away, but Cahill then fouled Bolasie, giving Everton a good set-piece. Barkley curled it in superbly but the entire attacking line was offside.
Twice, Barkley picked the ball up deep but played it backwards. However, they did start to pass the ball better until Lukaku was robbed and it almost let Chelsea break again. Jagielka was then booked apparently for dissent. (Isn't the captain allowed to talk to the referee now?)
Another Chelsea attack, with good ball movement around the Everton area, a deep cross from Alonso saw Moses in like a flash, smacking his shot into the post.
Chelsea continued to look very comfortable, ready to pounce on any mistake, and were getting forward with too much ease. Koeman had seen enough and decided to switch formation to 4-2-3-1, with Mirallas on in place of Oviedo, after 35 mins.
Funes Mori gave away a clumsy foul, and from it Hazard lashed in another cross that somehow evaded Costa and ended in the first corner, flicked on deep to Costa for a fierce volley at the far post: 3-0.
The visitors worked on building another attack, Bolasie doing well to get in a couple of crosses but the ball ended up with Courtois. Costa beat Jagielka with ease and somehow firing into the side netting.
The match restarted but Everton struggling badly, first time Barkley plays a decent forward ball to Lukaku and clips off the back of his heel. Better possession but an overhit cross by Funes Mori won Everton's first corner off a mistake by Alonso but nothing developed from it. At the other end, Matic almost walks it in, Costa called offside.
After a brief lapse, Chelsea were passing it around with aplomb, an exhibition in store with a superb back-heel from Pedro inside to Hazard who danced in and lashed home a fourth. A brilliant goal off 23 passes, probably unstoppable, but all the more painful for being the fourth Everton conceded.
Koeman could do little, but decided to put Lennon on for the completely ineffective Bolasie. More slick Chelsea passing saw Everton's defense in tatters, a difficult volley from Costa well saved by Stekkelenburg. Barry picked his 5th yellow card for a poor block on Pedro.
Number five was a laughable waltz through the nonexistent Everton defence, Costa leaving Jagielka for dead, Stekelenburg saving the first shot but Pedro following up. Koeman hauled Barry off an gave Tom Davies a baptism of fire as the Everton fans left en masse with half-an-hour still to play.
Davies did well to win a corner off Moses, Mirallas heading just over from Barkley's deliver. Everton's first attempt to score. Barkley tackled Alonso. as Chelsea sat back, taunting those yellow shirts to come at them.
Costa looked for the 6th on a simple ball over the top but Williams prevented him from scoring as Hazard was replaced. Off the corner, a brilliant strike by David Luiz brought out a fantastic finger-tip save from Stekelenburg.
Funes Mori did well to keep Moses at bay in the final minutes, but then he did beat thee Everton man and fired in a fierce low shot that Stekelenburg was down sharply to stop.
Sad and sorry stuff from an Everton team completely outplayed in every department and utterly unable to present any kind of meaningful response.
One of the highlights of Roberto Martinez's three-year reign was the destruction of a hoodoo that had haunted Everton FC for 21 years until Bryan Oviedo scored his most important goal to date to beat Manchester United at Old Trafford.
It gave rise to hopes that, under the expansive game that the Catalan had instituted in 2013-14, more of the kinds of results away from home against the old “Sky Four” that eluded David Moyes for 11 years would follow.
Unfortunately, Martinez was unable to conquer any of Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool on their own turf before his ignominious dismissal last May, although he came agonisingly close at Stamford Bridge in January with that infamous 3-3 draw.
It means then that three of the Toffees' longest and most frustrating winless away runs against the five other ever-presents of the Premier League era still persist in 2016-17... and the one against Chelsea goes back further even than the much-lamented trophy drought that has plagued Everton for the past 21 years. Not since Paul Rideout's solitary goal handed Joe Royle a second successive win to start his tenure in November 1994 has an Everton side triumphed at Stamford Bridge in a League game.
For that reason alone, a win this weekend on Ronald Koeman's first visit there as Blues manager would taste so sweet but it would also be something of a statement in the context of the current season and given that his team aren't favoured in the betting odds from SmartBets for this Premier League game. Everton come into the weekend in sixth place, four points behind Chelsea who are in fourth and have seemingly moved past their erratic form in September when they failed to win any of their three League games.
At the time, early question marks were raised regarding their latest manager, Antonio Conte but the Londoners' form has been fairly ominous since. They won all four of their Premier League fixtures in October, scoring 11 goals without reply, culminating in a routine-looking win at Southampton last time out. With Eden Hazard back in good form and Diego Costa on fire, this will be a sterner test for Everton than it might have been when they were ahead of tomorrow's opponents in the early table.
If the task weren't already difficult enough, Koeman will have to do without his practically indispensable defensive midfielder, Idrissa Gueye, who serves a one-match ban for accumulating five yellow cards. With James McCarthy ruled out with a hamstring tear, Muhamed Bešić on the long-term injury-list and Darron Gibson presumably not fit, it leaves Tom Cleverley and Tom Davies as the most natural choices to partner Gareth Barry.
Despite an impressive pre-season and his mature showing against Norwich on the final day of last season, Koeman has tended to use Davies only sparingly as a late substitute so it would be a surprise if the 18-year-old was preferred to his more experienced team-mate. Regardless of who plays, Gueye's energy and ability to break up opposition attacks will be hugely missed — he is exactly the kind of player you'd want in there to combat Chelsea's enterprising midfield.
At the back, Maarten Stekelenburg is fit again and likely to start but Leighton Baines won't be risked as he continues his recovery from a hamstring problem of his own. With Koeman ascribing Phil Jagielka's absence from the starting line-up against West Ham last Sunday to the need to protect him in terms of fitness, the captain could be recalled for this one, most likely at the expense of Ramiro Funes Mori, a goalscorer on this ground 11 months ago.
Up front, few — if any — changes are expected, with Romelu Lukaku returning to Stamford Bridge for a third time since signing for Everton on a permanent basis and looking for his first goal at his old stomping ground. Yannick Bolasie and Kevin Mirallas are the likely starters beside him and Ross Barkley could be handed a deeper-lying brief to start with while Koeman assesses the pattern of the contest.
Boasting the second-meanest defence in the top flight after 10 matches, Everton are well equipped to handle Chelsea's free-scoring attack but they will need to be on their mettle to a greater degree than they have been in the last two or three games. Both Ashley Williams and Phil Jagielka have been guilty of uncharacteristic errors recently and they can ill-afford such slip-ups this weekend.
At the other end of the pitch, of course, the Toffees have shown that they can be very dangerous when they're firing on all cylinders themselves. As Lukaku demonstrated against the same opposition in the FA Cup at Goodison Park in March, when he is motivated he can beat Chelsea on his own but it would be unrealistic to expect him to repeat the same feat this time around.
Just as they did at Manchester City last month, Everton will no doubt need to try to contain Conte's side and then use their ability to explode on the counter-attack and capitalise on a defence that can be prone to errors.
Despite that long, 22-year stretch with no Everton win in the league at Stamford Bridge and the fact that four of their last five trips there have ended in defeat, the Blues usually compete well in this fixture. Each of the last three editions have seen Chelsea score very late goals to either win the match in cruel fashion or, as was the case last time, deny the visitors a famous win. That, the recent draw at the Etihad Stadium and the fact that Koeman won 3-1 at Chelsea with Southampton last season, all bode well.
Kick-off: 5.30pm, 5th November, 2016
Referee: Robert Madley
Last time: Chelsea 3-3 Everton
Predicted Line-up: Stekelenburg, Coleman, Jagielka, Williams, Oviedo, Barry, Cleverley, Barkley, Mirallas, Bolasie, Lukaku