5 Things Learned: Chelsea 2-2 Everton | Premier League
Chelsea were denied of a perfect March after Everton scored a late equaliser to claim a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge.
Ellis Simms’ strike made its way past Kepa Arrizabalaga to clinch the Toffees a point after Kai Havertz restored Chelsea’s lead from the penalty spot.
Graham Potter made three changes to the side that beat Leicester a week ago. Benoit Badiashile and Reece James returned to the starting lineup while Christian Pulisic was handed his first start since overcoming injury.
Mykhailo Mudryk, Marc Cucurella and Ruben Loftus-Cheek dropped to the bench and there was also a very welcome return to N’Golo Kante who was making his first appearance in the squad since August.
The opening moments of the game saw the home team with much more of the ball, 87% possession inside the first 10 minutes. The first opportunity fell to stand in captain, Matteo Kovacic. A corner cleared to the edge of the box fell kindly to the Croatian, whose volley passed just wide of the post.
Chances started coming regularly. Kai Havertz, having scored twice in the last two games, had his first sight on goal from a corner, the German’s header should have hit the target but drifted over the top of the bar.
Sean Dyche’s side are sitting just above the relegation zone with mixed form, a win in their last game against Brentford was an important victory for Everton. The away side had a clear game plan, sit back and hit Chelsea on the counterattack. Dyche’s team threatened on occasions but struggled to create any meaningful openings.
The first half was a physical battle but lost its momentum as both sides shut down each other in the final third. The whistle was blown with Everton the happier team at halftime, keeping the game all square. Chelsea with just three shots on target in the first 45 minutes.
Coming into the second half, Graham Potter will have been hoping his side could pick up their intensity and be a little more clinical in front of goal.
The home team again started the half well, Jordan Pickford was forced into a good but straightforward save from a Havertz header inside the first few minutes of the restart.
In the 52nd minute, Chelsea opened the scoring. Joao Felix picked the ball up on the edge of the box and slotted it nicely into the bottom corner, past the outstretched arm of the Everton keeper. Felix scored his first goal at Stamford Bridge and found the bit of luck in front of goal he deserved.
From the restart, Pulisic saw a goal disallowed for a clear offside. Felix was played through before laying the ball off to the American who found the top corner but only to see the assistant’s flag raised.
The first change of the game saw the returning Pulisic replaced by Conor Gallagher just over the hour mark, meaning an adjustment in tactics from the Chelsea manager to sure up the midfield area.
Everton struck back in the 68th minute with an important goal. Set pieces looked like the away side’s best chance of getting something out of the game and Abdoulaye Doucoure headed past Kepa Arrizabalaga after Chelsea defenders struggled to clear the box.
A fightback was needed from Chelsea to get back into a winning position in the game. Only a few minutes after Everton’s equaliser, Reece James was tripped in the box by James Tarkowski and a penalty was given.
New leading penalty taker Havertz stepped up and confidently finished for his seventh league goal this season.
Into the final 10 minutes of an end to end second half and Loftus-Cheek was brought on in place of Kovacic as Potter looked to add fresh legs in defensive midfield. Carney Chukwuemeka and Trevoh Chalobah were further substitutes as Chelsea slowed the game down.
With 89 minutes on the clock, Everton got a break and young striker Ellis Simms found the back of the net against the run of play. A shot that Arrizabalaga would have felt he should have saved, the ball sneaking under his arm to put the Merseyside team level.
Chelsea struggled to create any more opportunities in added time and the game ended at 2-2, with both sides taking a point into the international break. It brought an end to a three-game winning run for Chelsea as Everton left the much happier side.
Here are five things Absolute Chelsea learned from Saturday’s draw against Everton.
1) Chelsea head into the International break with confidence but it could have been even better
Chelsea’s draw against Everton put a stop to the perfect March for a side that has been in desperate need of results. Graham Potter and his team will be frustrated that they could only leave Stamford Bridge with a draw due to the late goal from Ellis Simms.
The result brings to an end a fantastic run of three important victories for Chelsea but the team will head into the International break with confidence that they can pick up where they left off in two weeks time.
2) Potter showing managerial leadership
There was a different feel around Stamford Bridge. Fans were in good voice before, during and after the game, buoyed by the recent run of results. A big part of the feeling around Chelsea has been the turn in confidence from Graham Potter.
Clearly the change in managerial style has worked for his team, from sitting on the bench and rarely giving instructions, to being on the touchline, constantly talking to his players and raring up the crowd. Players always talk about how much they like working with Potter and progress is being made game-by-game, albeit in parts.
3) Joao Felix finds goalscoring form
A big part of Chelsea’s turn of form in recent weeks success has been the link-up of Kai Havertz, Joao Felix and Enzo Fernandez. Felix has been at the heart of Chelsea’s attacking threat since arriving on loan but has only managed one goal so far in his appearances.
Looking sharp and creating numerous chances, Felix has been unlucky to find the woodwork regularly. Today he found the back of the net and will be looking to kick on and contribute goals to this Chelsea side.
4) The race for a European spot heats up
One point has taken the Blues from 11th place in the table on 37 points, up one spot into 10th and four points behind 7th place. If Chelsea can continue their positive results throughout the final 11 games of the league season, there is every chance the west London side could gain a spot in either the Conference or Europa league.
In this season’s hunt for Champions League success, Chelsea has been drawn against Real Madrid for the third season in a row. Going into the tie full of confidence, Potter’s side could overturn the Spanish giants to progress into the semi-finals. The winners of the trophy see automatic qualification into next season’s campaign.
5) N’Golo Kante returning at the perfect time
Some of the best news for fans, away from Chelsea’s draw, was seeing the return of N’Golo Kante to the playing squad. Having been out since August due to injury, the Frenchman was given a roaring ovation from the Stamford Bridge faithful in the warm ups.
The fan-favourite didn’t get on the pitch, but Kante will be vital in the run-in for Chelsea at the back end of this season. Out of contract in June, the 31-year-old is close to signing a new deal which would see him stay at the club for further three years but with worries around fitness, the midfielder will be looking to prove to everyone that he can get back to his best.