Chelsea vs Everton (1-0) – Initial Reaction and Analysis
Chelsea hosted Everton at home today with a few changes in the starting lineup. Courtois and Cahill were dropped to the bench while Cech and highly praised young central defender Zouma came into the starting eleven. The new Colombian winger Cuadrado was given his first chance of a home debut while Willian moved to the central attacking position replacing Oscar who picked up a minor injury. It is also Lukaku’s first time coming back to Stamford Bridge since he joined the Toffees in summer.
The first chance of the game came just 2 minutes after kick off, when Matic stumbled through several challenges and saw his shot fly over the bar. Willian also saw his curling effort just over the bar 4 minutes after that.
Everton had been sitting deep in the first half, allowing Chelsea plenty of possession. However, they were threatening with counter-attacks. It was 8 minutes into the game when Everton’s first break picked out offside Lukaku who pulled out a brilliant save from Cech.
Cuadrado came close to netting his first Premier League goal 10 minutes into the game with his low shot drifting just wide of the post. A few minutes later, Azpilicueta’s cross on the left side found Remy but his header was denied by a decent save from Howard.
Chelsea had been threatening in every attack with Hazard or Willian leading them. It was 20 minutes into the game when Ramires and Cuadrado led a counter-attack but Remy’s shot was just off target.
Everton’s rare chances came from Lukaku on 27 minutes whose long shot was on target but it was no more than an easy save for Cech.
Meanwhile, Chelsea seemed to be the team more likely to net the first goal of the game. 31 minutes had gone when Hazard shot outside the box which forced Howard into a wonderful save. Chelsea’s last chance of the first half fell to John Terry whose header from a corner went over the bar.
Chelsea, despite having 11 shots in the first half, only had 2 of them on target and the score at half time was 0-0.
Chelsea’s first real threat came after the break in the 61st minute when Hazard skipped through 2 defenders and only saw his shot parried away by Howard. Not long after that Matic took a free-kick which pulled out a great save once again from Howard. Howard saved Everton for the third time in a row when he made another good save to deny Willian’s curling shot towards the right bottom corner in the 66th minute.
The match-deciding moment came two minutes later when Oveido crossed into the middle and Lukaku shot from 3 yards out and Cech, unbelievably, made a nearly impossible reflex save.
Chelsea brought on Fabregas (who recovered from injury) and Drogba in the 70th minute aiming to provide some creativity and win the game.
Chelsea fans might have been overjoyed for nothing in the 86th minute, when Matic’s shot outside the box was deflected into the net. The whole stadium erupted but soon died down since the linesman signaled that Ivanovic, who got the last touch of the deflected shot, was in an offside position.
The game became heated after that with players from both teams involved in a coming-together with a bit of arguments. Barry was sent off following his second booking of the game.
Finally the moment came. The stadium erupted once again just 3 minutes after Matic’s disallowed goal, with Fabregas’s freekick crossed into the box followed by Howard’s punch. The ball came to Willian who striked a deflected shot into the net. This time, the goal finally stood and Everton’s resilience was broken.
Mourinho brought on Cahill for goalscorer Willian to see out the game after the goal. The goalscorer received a standing ovation from the Stamford Bridge crowd as he left the field. Chelsea sustained their lead and won the game with the score 1-0.
With City also winning their game at the Britannia, Chelsea maintained their 7-point lead at the top of the table. This game we saw the spirit of Chelsea where they never gave up until the last minute. This is a well-deserved win for Chelsea and an incredible performance from the players. The players have certainly shown us what champions slect should be — finding a way through even when the opposition came for a draw!
With Fabregas back from injury and Costa available once again after suspension in the next game, it is hopeful that we can find the killer instinct and the goals easier. Fabregas’s killer passes and Costa’s finishing was what the team lacked in the last few games.
A great win today and a healthy lead sustained for the Blues, May can’t come faster now!