Dominant Chelsea Leave Everton Feeling Blue

Chelsea 4-0 Everton

by Ben Gilby

Above: Erin Cuthbert puts in a superb tackle. Photo: Ben Gilby

For Chelsea, what a difference a week makes!

Blues boss Emma Hayes moved to provide more cover at the back after their below-par defensive performance against Arsenal – an unsuccessful system left Chelsea dangerously vulnerable at the Emirates Stadium with Jess Carter in particular exposed. 

The same three players – Carter, Millie Bright and Magda Eriksson – formed the backline, but Sophie Ingle replaced Niamh Charles in the defensive midfield position and provided greater solidity.

Another important difference was off the pitch. Seven days ago, fans were few and far between on the way to Arsenal’s stadium for the season opener. An hour before kick-off at Chelsea’s Kingsmeadow, Kingston Road was full of supporters heading in early for the first competitive game with fans at the south-west London venue in 2021.

Above: Magda Eriksson marshalled her defence excellently once more. Photo: Ben Gilby

Unfortunately for Everton, things stayed depressingly familiar. Willie Kirk’s side had arguably the best summer transfer window of any Barclays FA WSL club, but despite signing so many impressive young players, they look far from being the Champions League qualifiers that many have predicted.

The combination of so many new players, many of whom are young and playing FA WSL football for the first time, is a major reason for Everton’s present travails which have seen them concede eight goals in two games without finding the net themselves.

Like Chelsea, Everton suffered defensively last week, and their first half against Manchester City was nothing short of disastrous. They kept faith with Nathalie Björn, Gabby George and Megan Finnigan at the back, while Nicoline Sørensen came into the midfield to provide additional ballast.

It was clear from the start that the Toffees were not going to trouble Chelsea. Given the Champions’ defensive frailties the previous week, Everton were expected to press high from the start, but instead they were pedestrian and made the fundamental error of allowing Chelsea to get into their stride.

Above: Guro Reiten – dominant on the left-wing all afternoon. Photo: Ben Gilby.

Guro Reiten was able to create down the left, causing Björn all sorts of problems and being able to throw in dangerous crosses which put pressure on Sandy MacIver in the visitors’ goal. Chelsea focused their attacks on the left-hand side of the pitch for most of the afternoon, with Pernille Harder and Ji So-Yun also finding joy along that channel.

Above: Ji So-Yun rampaging down the left: Photo: Ben Gilby

Chelsea took 25 minutes to find the net and as expected it came down the left. Ji released Fran Kirby, with the reigning PFA Player of the Year turning Björn before lofting a shot in at the far post.

Above: On a difficult afternoon for her side, Everton’s young summer signing Anna Anvegård had a number of promising moments. Photo: Ben Gilby

Everton were rarely seen in an attacking perspective. Big summer signing Hanna Bennison struggled to make an impact on the game and was well marshaled by Chelsea. Her fellow Swede and summer signing Anna Anvegård however, was the best of the Merseyside club’s players in the opening forty-five, making several intelligent runs and looking to run in on goal when she could.

Above: Hanna Bennison – a disappointing debut for Everton’s big-money signing. Photo: Ben Gilby

Any hope the visiting supporters had that their side would rally after a rousing half-time team talk fell apart just two minutes after the break, thanks to a defensive disaster from Everton. MacIver played a pass out towards Finnigan on the edge of the 18 yard box, but the Toffees defender was seemingly not aware that Sam Kerr was lurking behind her ready to pounce, and a dreadfully short attempted back pass was intercepted by the Matildas record scorer, who slotted home one of the easiest goals of her career.

Above: “Ow! That hurt!” Sam Kerr shares a joke with Fran Kirby after heading in her second goal of the afternoon. Photo: Ben Gilby

From there it was simply a matter of “how many” for Chelsea. The hosts scored their third with just over fifteen minutes to go when Reiten broke free down the left once more and pulled over a cross, which Kerr headed home in a trademark finish.

Reiten was involved again for the fourth goal on 79 minutes when she supplied Erin Cuthbert, who had put in another tigerish performance. The Scot’s powerful effort smashed off the bar and went in off newly introduced Beth England.

Above: Pernille Harder put in arguably her best performance for Chelsea so far and dominated the action on the left-wing. Photo: Ben Gilby.

Credit must go to Harder for her incredible work rate in this game. Everton simply couldn’t stop her raids down Chelsea’s left side and whilst Harder didn’t end up with the goal she deserved for her endeavours, the Danish superstar was an integral reason for Chelsea’s creativity in the second half.

Chelsea’s return to form was ominous – as was a post-game tweet from Everton director Sarvar Ismailov which simply read “unacceptable”.

Teams: CHELSEA: Berger, Bright, Carter, Eriksson, Cuthbert, Ingle, Ji, Reiten, Kirby, Kerr, Harder. Subs: Musovic (GK), Nouwen, Leupolz, England, Fleming, Charles, Spence, Andersson, Fox.

Scorers: Kirby 25′, Kerr 47′ 74′, England 79′

EVERTON: MacIver, Sorensen, Björn, Finnigan, George, Turner, Bennison, Christiansen, Galli, Anvegård, Emslie. Subs: Sevecke, Dali, Duggan, Gauvin, Brosnan, Clinton, Pattinson.

Referee: Amy Fearn.

Attendance: 2,379

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