It’s likely to be a similar set-up to the one Ronald Koeman deployed away at Manchester City, defend, soak up pressure and look to score on the counter-attack. While Everton tried to do the same last season, their inability to defend and see out games cost them.
The away game against Chelsea last season was a key example of this. Then Everton boss Roberto Martinez saw his side take a 2-0 lead before letting Chelsea draw the game level at 2-2. A late goal from Ramiro Funes Mori seemed to secure the three points but again the Everton defence crumbled as Chelsea scored their third.
The game finished 3-3 and it likely should have been Everton’s first win at Stamford Bridge in over 20 years but it wasn’t to be.
The Toffees are already a better team defensively but the hosts have also improved on their disappointing last campaign.
Ahead of his side’s trip to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea, Koeman spoke to the assembled media at Finch Farm, stating: “They (Chelsea) play with a lot of intensity and are aggressive.” He has already noticed that the hosts “have a different system” which has lead to them getting “a lot of clean sheets” and “winning games.”
Koeman on James McCarthy’s Ireland call-up
James McCarthy will miss the trip down south after the Irish international picked up another injury. While he isn’t fit, he has been selected for the Republic Of Ireland’s squad for the next set of international fixtures.
This has already happened once this season, leading to another extended break for McCarthy through injury and an irate Koeman.
The Dutchman said it is the “same story as last time” when the midfielder was called up while injured. He said he has advised McCarthy to “stay here (with Everton), train and be fit as soon as possible” but he hasn’t spoke to Ireland boss Martin O’Neill.
Building a winning atmosphere
So much is spoken about building on wins and confidence in football that it can become white noise and an easy line for managers and players to drop during talks with the press. Everton didn’t win much at all last season so it’s a line Blues fans may have forgotten.
Ronald Koeman has yet to find a positive from a loss or beat around the bush when it comes to confidence. When quizzed about it this week, the Everton boss stated that he would obviously like to “continue winning” but knows that it will be “very difficult.”
He added that he does not “accept defeats” and expects “the same mentality” from his players.
Leighton Baines will miss the trip to Stamford Bridge as he looks to return from injury. Koeman said he is “hopeful” that the left-back will return after the international break.
Idrissa Gueye will miss the game through suspension while Everton welcome back Maarten Stekelenburg and Enner Valencia.