Talking tactics: Chelsea face the empty chair at Everton

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Chelsea was supposed to be facing Marco Silva’s Everton but he has been sacked. There will be little time to change things but plans are out the window.

Usually when a manager is sacked two days before a fixture, it is because the club expects nothing out of that fixture from the sacked manager or the interim/new manager. Everton�s case is a bit unique though.

It was clear Marco Silva had run his course, but a series of matches including Leicester (they lost), Liverpool (they really lost), Chelsea, Manchester United, Leicester again, Arsenal, Manchester City, and Liverpool again between 1 December and 4 January meant there was a chance he would be held on to as the designated punching bag before being mercifully sacked. The loss to Liverpool was bad enough that the mercy was moved up by nearly a month and Duncan Ferguson has been thrown into the firing line as they sort out a replacement.

Of course, Ferguson will have only had one or two training sessions at most. As part of Silva’s staff, it is just as likely that he continues the Silva tactics for Chelsea as he reverts to a simple baseline set up. Frank Lampard will need to assume that both are possible as he prepares his side to play their own game. So tactically, this match is a tough nut to crack. Everton has mostly lined up in a 4-2-3-1 which suits the majority of their players so whether they go for continuance or simplicity, that shape is likely.

Beyond that it will be a mystery. Silva’s team liked to attack down the wings and was decent at pressing. But they often overloaded their attacks and got crushed by counters and silly errors. Overall, they were playing much better than the results were showing and that may be the most important factor for Chelsea to consider.

Everton sit in the relegation zone, but xPts shows they should be closer to eighth. The new manager bounce is generally more about reverting to the mean than any actual improvement (in the short term) so Chelsea cannot go into the match expecting to play a team that is 18th on the table. They need to prepare mentally for a team in eighth.

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