Pat Nevin: Everton made this massive mistake against Chelsea
By Matt Farr
Pat Nevin believes Everton made a massive mistake by instructing Idrissa Gueye to man-mark Eden Hazard during the defeat to Chelsea on Sunday.
Hazard has run Premier League defenders ragged this season, contributing 15 goals and five assists from 32 league appearances, and Everton manager Ronald Koeman understandably tried to nullify the threat.
However, pundit Nevin believes that allowed Everton to be exposed by Chelsea’s remaining attacking threats, the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Willian and Pedro.
Everton lost the clash 3-0, despite Gueye doing a decent job eliminating Hazard from the game.
Nevin told the Liverpool Echo: “After Man United and Jose’s elaborate plan it was generally thought, stop Eden and you might just stop Chelsea.
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“Everton tried the shadowplay on Eden, but it just left room for others. It is like putting your finger in a hole in the proverbial dyke, the pressure will just be released somewhere else.
“You ignore Willian, Cesc, Pedro et al at your peril. It allowed a bit more space near the end for Pedro to jink into and smash an unstoppable shot into the corner past Maarten Stekelenburg.”
The defeat for Everton saw them lose precious ground in the race to finish in the Premier League’s top four. They now sit six points adrift of fourth-placed Manchester City, with four games remaining.
Their chances remain slim, but with City, Manchester United and Arsenal all dropping points at the weekend, they could have cranked up the pressure with a win over Chelsea at Goodison Park.
However, results elsewhere at the weekend ensured they will not finish any lower than seventh in the Premier League this season, which secures them a place in next season’s Europa League.
It is also their highest league finish in three years, although Koeman will insist that Champions League football is the ultimate goal for his Everton project.
In other Everton news, the Toffees are closing in on a deal for this striker.