Moyes plots five-point plan to spoil Rafa return
WHENEVER Chelsea visit Goodison Park, David Moyes adopts certain tactics to counteract the Londoners. And three successive victories in the league would suggest those methods have worked.
It should not be any different tomorrow when Rafael Benitez returns to Merseyside with his new club. Everton's game plan is likely to centre around five key components that has made life difficult for Chelsea over the past few years.
1. MARK ASHLEY COLE
The England international left-back's attacking raids are an obvious danger, so Moyes has always asked his right-sided midfielder to deal with those runs.
Quite often, that duty has fallen to Seamus Coleman, who has done a great job in the past. The Donegal man, however, is battling an injury and, if he doesn't make it, Phil Neville or Steven Naismith will probably be entrusted with the role for Everton.
It is an important one, too, because Moyes does not want his right-back to get dragged out wide by joining in with that tussle. Ideally, Phil Jagielka will stay nice and tight to his fellow centre-half to shut down the gaps that Chelsea would exploit. For the back four, it is about defending the width of the penalty area.
2. SURRENDER THE FLANKS TO FLOOD THE CENTRE
This follows on from the first point. Traditionally, Chelsea's strength lies through the middle of the park where the west London club's technically gifted players are more than capable of calling the shots.
And despite several changes to the Chelsea personnel, it is no different now when you look at Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, Oscar and Victor Moses.
More often than not, these lads will cut inside to try to find a way through.
In response, Moyes instructs his own players to keep "refilling the middle", a favourite phrase of the Scot that means ensuring enough bodies stay in the zone where Chelsea like to play.
Do not worry so much about the wide areas, the manager will say. The visitors can dominate the wings if it means Everton stay secure through the middle.
3. LET FERNANDO TORRES HAVE IT INTO FEET
Everton usually defend a little deeper when facing the Spain international forward, knowing that he much prefers to be running towards goal.
And although the striker's reduced pace means he cannot run away from defenders so easily these days, Torres can still be dangerous with shorter diagonal runs into the penalty area. He is much less comfortable, though, when the ball is played into his feet, when a centre-half is pecking away from behind.
This kind of pressure tends to affect the Spaniard's touch and gives a well-placed deep-lying midfielder the chance to nick the ball away.
Expect to see plenty of that tomorrow. Torres will be hounded, denied the luxury of time on the ball and the home side will try to force him into mistakes.
4. FORCE PETR CECH TO KICK IT LONG
Everton have always done this in an attempt to stop Chelsea's centre-halves from controlling the tempo of the match.
So when their goalkeeper Cech has the ball in his hands or is about to take a goal-kick, the likes of Nikica Jelavic and Victor Anichebe will push on to Branislav Ivanovic and Gary Cahill, who will have spread either side of the 18-yard box.
In addition, someone like Leon Osman will look to squeeze the midfielder who drops off in-between to give another option for the goalkeeper.
If this tactic is successful and Cech is regularly forced to punt the ball upfield, Everton will be confident they have the players to either win the first header or the second ball.
5. PLAY MORE LONG BALLS AND BE EXTRA AGGRESSIVE
It is a tactic that Moyes might not readily admit to, but this ploy could unsettle a side that like to get the ball down and play; possibly a less powerful side, too, than we have seen in the past, one that might be a little vulnerable to the physical approach.
Everton, after all, have had some joy in this area plenty of times in the past. With everyone steaming into tackles backed by a raucous Goodison Park crowd, they can be an unstoppable force on a good day.
Anticipating this, you would not be surprised to see Benitez opt for the Frank Lampard next to John Obi Mikel or Ramires, rather than risk David Luiz in this kind of scrap.
While the Brazilian has impressed in his new midfield role, this match might present a good time to give him a rest. (© Daily Telegraph, London)
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