The schedule is oddly off this season as Chelsea have played 19 matches but have yet to play Brighton in the league. That will be quickly fixed on Boxing Day as Chelsea look to rebound from the effects of a Big Sam Special.
Brighton’s hot start to the season has cooled but the idea is the same. They stay organized and take their chances when they come and keep games low scoring (except for Liverpool). It could be a tricky game but Everton should have been a good warmup.
GK: THIBAUT COURTOIS, Belgium
Courtois kept a clean sheet but it will come off hollow. He only touched the ball when a teammate passed it back to him and the offense failed to capitalize on their dominance.
He would have had a great deal of time to ponder signing a new contract. The sooner (and quieter) that is sorted out the quicker (and easier) Chelsea will be able to plan for the future with or without Courtois.
CB: CESAR AZPILICUETA, Spain
With Everton doing nothing that looked close to an attack, Azpilicueta did his usual push up into midfield routine that he does when Chelsea are dominant.
One slight difference to it was he did not always go to the wide area beside N’Golo Kante. He would go in between at times to take advantage of his passing vision.
That could be something to keep an eye on, especially if Conte has a trick up his sleeve involving moving
Azpilicueta into midfield.
CB:ANDREAS CHRISTENSEN, Denmark
One error aside, he had his usual steady match. If anything, he is the loan academy and loan army success for forever and can help to justify both.
He did get lucky to get into a good situation that allowed him to play, but he also kept that spot and gained a great deal of experience in the process.
Players such as Kenedy and Charly Musonda should take note as loans are presented to them going into January.
CB: GARY CAHILL, England
Antonio Rudiger and Cahill will continue their dance around one another as the captain returns to the lineup. Rudiger was not tested enough to say he did good or bad, just that he was present.
The battle between the two is still favored towards Cahill, but the fact that Conte is willing to rotate them heavily is a sign that Rudiger could push his way in if Cahill slips and the German plays well.
WB: VICTOR MOSES, Nigeria
Moses started the Everton match better than anyone. Unfortunately, without a striker in the box to get on the end of them, his crosses that avoided the first man went to no one.
He faded in the second half before being replaced by Davide Zappacosta. The idea was likely to return the formation to a 3-4-3 in search of a goal but it back-fired as Zappacosta had a poor showing.
Zappacosta is a good player and has shown it, but the cameo will not start him over Moses.
CM: CESC FABREGAS, Spain
Fabregas has vastly more minutes this season than last so was due a rest. But he should have started against Everton to help crack them open and he could not find a foothold when he came on later.
Brighton will attempt a similar style as Everton so Chelsea will need Fabregas to find the holes and set up the chances.
CM: N’GOLO KANTE, France
If this is Kante out of form then Chelsea are lucky. He has not been perfect like before but is still performing well enough to cause opponents trouble.
It could be a fatigue issue, meaning it will only continue as he is undroppable. Perhaps as a result, he has become a more traditional holding midfielder in recent months, stunting his contributions elsewhere.
It is a tricky situation that Conte will be eager to find a solution to as the New Year opens.
CM: TIEMOUE BAKAYOKO, France
Bakayoko has been back to his early season form and suddenly the comments about how much of a waste of money he is have faded away. Of course it is always risky to buy a player after their breakout season, but the Frenchman has shown enough to suggest that he is legit.
Offensively he will not add much (even if he can find great positions) so starting him in the 3-5-2 may not be the ideal long term unless someone else takes the attacking duty from midfield.
WB: MARCOS ALONSO, Spain
Rest days are back-firing on Chelsea a bit as the players are returning rusty rather than refreshed. Alonso fit that description as he was just a step off of where he wanted to be.
He has done enough to keep Chelsea from dropping big money on a guaranteed starting left wingback but not quite enough to stop Chelsea from buying someone to push him hard (or a cheap guaranteed starter). It is time for Alonso to find his form of last season once more.
ST: ALVARO MORATA, Spain
Silly yellow aside, Chelsea sorely missed Morata against Everton. The team kept trying to cross into the box without a target.
A true striker would have found a way to beat the various goal line clearances Everton had. He has scored far more than it feels like, but there is a sense he still has more to give.
A strong return from suspension will help to make up for his absence and bolster his goal scoring record.
ST: EDEN HAZARD, Belgium
Hazard loves a good flick and a good trick. The problem when playing him as a false-nine is Pedro and Willian also love to do them.
So it was not an unusual sight to see Hazard flick a ball on to one of the other wingers only to have them try to flick it right back when Hazard was already gone.
When it works it looks majestic. But when it does not it looks ridiculous, and that about describes Chelsea’s attack against Everton.
Any thoughts? Relieved to see Alvaro Morata back, or worried that the problems run deeper? Let us know below!