Everton fell to a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Monday night.
Hindered by the injury to Abdoulaye Doucouré, which could keep the Frenchman out until the end of the season, Carlo Ancelotti kept faith with several of the players that were victorious against West Bromwich Albion on Thursday night, with Allan and Gylfi Sigurdsson in place of Doucouré and Bernard his only changes.
From the offset, Chelsea were absolutely superb. He may have only been in charge for a short period of time but the incredible impact Thomas Tuchel is having upon his group of players is clear to see. Whilst not necessarily the most creative, his side pressed and passed with great efficiency, forcing Everton into a number of difficult areas that they couldn’t work their way out of.
It came as no surprise, therefore, that it was the hosts who scored the opening goal of the match just after the half an hour mark. After a terrible misread between Mason Holgate, Marcus Alonso slipped through The Toffees’ right channel and fed Kai Havertz, whose deflected effort fired into the back of Jordan Pickford’s net. Whilst the goal itself was slightly fortunate, it had been coming and was fully justified considering Chelsea’s pressure and Everton’s passivity.
Half Time: Chelsea 1-0 Everton
Having held on to dear life for the most part of that first half, Evertonians would have been hopeful that the second period would have seen their side ask more questions of the hosts. Disappointingly, Everton never really did so and couldn’t content with their opposition’s slickness and surety with and without the ball.
Not long after Kai Havertz, who enjoyed one of his best performances in blue, had had a goal disallowed for handball, the German was set free again, only to be upended by Pickford in the penalty area. Referee David Coote had no option but to point to the spot, giving Jorginho the opportunity to put the game to bed with just under half an hour to go, which he seized with ease.
Although the last half an hour was much more open for Everton than the first sixty minutes had been, the men in lime green failed to really capitalise upon any of the freedoms they were afforded and had to rely on Pickford to keep the score line at a respectable level.
This game is not and was never going to define Everton’s season from here. Chelsea are arguably the second best team in the Premier League right now and have a system of play that very few teams, let alone an Everton side hindered by key injuries, could breach.
Whilst they may be a level above in terms of performances, Chelsea are still very much within touching distance in terms of points. If Everton can apply the good habits they have shown in recent matches against their next three opponents (Burnley, Crystal Palace and Brighton), this result could be made redundant in a few weeks’ time.
A setback. No more. No less.
FT. Defeat in London as our nine-game unbeaten away run comes to an end.
— Everton (@Everton) March 8, 2021
Full Time: Chelsea 2-0 Everton
James’ Everton Man of the Match: Jordan Pickford