23rd of December 2017

Blues are held to stalemate at Goodison Park (0-0)

The Blues were forced to settle for a point on a frustrating afternoon at Goodison Park as they were unable to capitalise on their dominance.

Antonio Conte’s side were by far the better side and deserved more but the all-important breakthrough failed to materialise.

Phil Jagielka cleared off his own line twice in quick succession in the first half to deny Tiemoue Bakayoko and Willian while Ashley Williams headed against his own bar after the break.

Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford also made a couple of impressive saves to deny Pedro and Eden Hazard. The Spaniard was on the starting eleven and played 63 minutes of the game before being replaced by Fábregas.

Conte made just one change to the side which beat Southampton a week ago, with Toni Rudiger coming into the defence at the expense of Gary Cahill.

Having missed the midweek Carabao Cup win over Bournemouth through suspension Marcos Alonso returned to the starting line-up, and with Alvaro Morata serving a one-match ban, it was a front three of Willian, Hazard and Pedro.

Having been an unused sub in midweek, 17-year-old Callum Hudson-Odoi was named on the bench in a Premier League game for the first time in his career.

There was no Wayne Rooney for Everton, who missed out due to illness, with Sam Allardyce naming an attacking trio of Aaron Lennon, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Gylfi Sigurdsson.

A nicely-worked move saw the Blues threaten inside the opening couple of minutes but, after the ball was played out to the right-hand side and Victor Moses delivered, Hazard, who had made a clever run to the near post, was unable to get enough of a connection on his volley.

It was a bright start by Chelsea and Pedro, scorer of a stunning opener in last season’s corresponding fixture, flashed a strike just wide after Moses’s initial effort had been blocked.

It was all Chelsea during the opening stages, Everton were struggling to hold on and the home side had Jagielka to thank after 10 minutes as the skipper twice cleared off the line in quick succession, first to deny Bakayoko and then, from the follow-up, Willian, after Alonso’s volley had fizzed across the face of goal.

Hazard was drifting into space, picking up possession and beating his man at every opportunity, while N’Golo Kante and Bakayoko had a grip on the midfield area. As the 20-minute mark ticked by, however, it remained goalless and we had nothing to show for our dominance up until that point.

Cuco Martina became the second Everton player to enter the referee’s book, following Calvert-Lewin, after bringing Moses down just outside the box, and from the resulting free-kick Willian curled his effort over the bar.

Tom Davies then had Everton’s first attempt on goal of note as he picked the ball up deep inside our half and drove at the Chelsea defence before firing wide of Thibaut Courtois’s right-hand post.

Eleven minutes before the break another good opportunity came our way and it owed much to the anticipation of Bakayoko, who did well to win the ball back in midfield before carrying it deep into the Everton half. With both Pedro and Willian in support he switched it to his left, where the Spaniard’s powerful effort was brilliantly tipped over the bar by Pickford.

Cesar Azpilicueta had to be alert to produce a block on Calvert-Lewin, who had robbed Andreas Christensen out on the touchline, and at the end of an opening 45 minutes in which we’d dominated for long spells, it was frustratingly all square.

Everton made a couple of changes at the break, with Williams and Sandro Ramirez replacing Davies and Lennon respectively, but the Blues were immediately on the front foot and after Hazard’s drive was saved by Pickford, Alonso’s effort was then charged down.

Having made two changes at half-time, Allardyce was forced to make his third and final substitution just five minutes after the restart when Idrissa Gueye went down in the midfield area clutching his leg. The midfielder left the field of play to be replaced by youngster Beni Baningime.

Michael Keane followed Calvert-Lewin and Martina into the book for an awful challenge on Hazard, the defender scything the Belgian down as he produced a delightful piece of skill to get away from two challenges, and with no sign of a breakthrough Cesc Fabregas replaced his compatriot Pedro.

Fabregas slotted into a midfield position, alongside Kante and Bakayoko, with Willian and Hazard partnered up front.

The game was slowly beginning to open up and Pickford saved brilliantly to deny Hazard, before pushing away a teasing Moses cross.

With 15 minutes remaining it looked as though the deadlock had been broken but as Williams diverted a Moses cross towards his own goal, the ball thumped against the underside of the bar before Everton cleared it away to safety. It was the closest we'd come to opening the scoring.

Rudiger then spun inside the box and hooked a strike into the arms of Pickford, and Davide Zappacosta replaced Moses for the last 10 minutes.

It was the Blues pressing for a goal as the clock ticked down and after a Hazard cross had caused panic and confusion in the penalty area, Fabregas's strike from distance took a deflection and rolled just wide.

Much like the first half, Everton had done very little of note in an attacking sense after the break, but they came close to stealing it late on when Keane powered a header just over the bar from a Sigurdsson corner. Azpilicueta then did brilliantly to rob Ramirez as the home side broke with numbers in their favour.

In the end, the sides couldn't be separated, so we take the point and now look forward to the hosting of Brighton at the Bridge on Boxing Day.

 

- Match stats:

Chelsea (3-4-3): Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses (Zappacosta 80), Kante, Bakayoko, Alonso; Willian (Batshuayi 70), Hazard, Pedro (Fabregas 63).

Everton (4-3-3): Pickford; Kenny, Jagielka (c), Keane, Martina; Schneiderlin, Gueye (Baningime 50), Davies (Williams h/t); Lennon (Ramirez h/t), Calvert-Lewin, Sigurdsson.

Booked Calvert-Lewin 10, Martina 21, Keane 56

Referee Bobby Madley


- Match report by chelseafc.com




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