Chelsea 1 – 1 Everton

Jordan Pickford starred as a much-depleted Everton scrapped their way to a 1-1 draw with Chelsea, who lost more ground in the title race.

The England goalkeeper was called upon to make nine saves in a match where Chelsea had 23 shots on goal but only had a Mason Mount strike on 70 minutes to show for their dominance. That lead only lasted four minutes as Jarrad Branthwaite knocked home a sublime Anthony Gordon set-piece to equalise.

The draw leaves Chelsea four points behind Manchester City in third place in the Premier League table.

Star manL Jordan Pickford kept Chelsea at bay
Star man: Jordan Pickford kept Chelsea at bay

It was a heroic performance from the visitors as Rafa Benitez’s side arrived at Stamford Bridge with a decimated squad that was missing Richarlison, Demarai Gray, Salomon Rondon, Lucas Digne, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Andros Townsend. Such were their selection problems, Benitez handed a debut to 20-year-old Ellis Simms to lead the line.

Meanwhile, Chelsea were missing Romelu Lukaku, Timo Werner and Callum Hudson-Odoi after the trio tested positive for Covid-19 as Thomas Tuchel could only name eight substitutes, including two goalkeepers.

How Pickford stood strong for tenacious Toffees…

When the Everton team news dropped, it painted a picture of a long, hard evening for the away side and Chelsea’s start backed up that narrative.

Player ratings

Chelsea: Mendy (6), Azpilicueta (6), Thiago Silva (7), Rudiger (7), James (7), Loftus-Cheek (7), Jorginho (7), Alonso (6), Ziyech (8), Mount (7), Pulisic (6)

Subs: Saul (5), Barkley (6), Chalobah (6)

Everton: Pickford (9), Kenny (7), Holgate (7), Keane (8), Godfrey (7), Branthwaite (8), Doucoure (8), Gordon (8), Gomes (6), Iwobi (6), Simms (6)

Subs: Dobbin (6), Gbamin (6), Onyango (6)

Man of the match: Jordan Pickford

Reece James sauntered through on goal but blazed wide before Mount fired inches wide of Pickford’s post and flicked a tame effort straight at his England team-mate. With just 11 minutes on the clock, Chelsea should have been 3-0 up. However, Everton grew as the half wore on, showing great unity in defence and made Chelsea open them up with clever play.

Team news

  • Thomas Tuchel made two changes from the team that beat Leeds. Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech replaced Timo Werner and Kai Havertz, who both weren’t in the matchday squad. Neither was Romelu Lukaku or Callum Hudson-Odoi.
  • Rafa Benitez made five changes from the defeat at Crystal Palace with Seamus Coleman, Fabian Delph, Richarlison, Andros Townsend and Demarai Gray all not in the squad, neither was Salomon Rondon. That meant an Everton debut for 20-year-old Ellis Simms in attack. Jarrad Branthwaite was making his first Premier League start of the season as did Jonjoe Kenny.

Marcos Alonso scampered down the left on the half-hour mark but his cross could not be turned home by Mount, who had a Pickford-shaped wall in front of him again. The Everton goalkeeper was in sensational form and made arguably his best save just before the break when Mount was released in on goal by Antonio Rudiger but, from six yards out, he was denied by some stunning reactions from Pickford.

Everton’s shot-stopper tipped round the post from Mount to open the second half as they continued their battle, before Ruben Loftus-Cheek flicked over the bar from Alonso’s corner.

Cesar Azpilicueta then hooked high over the bar after Everton failed to clear James’ whipped cross from a free-kick.

Rudiger had his head in his hands after nodding wide from another teasing James free-kick.

As the hour-mark passed and Chelsea gawped in frustration at their litany of botched chances the hosts knew only calmness and renewed focus would break the deadlock.

Jordan Pickford saves ahead of Christian Pulisic
Pickford saves ahead of a Christian Pulisic challenge

Just when the night started to become niggly, though, Chelsea broke at pace and James sent Mount in on the right.

The England star beat the defence with his run before slotting past Pickford, to cut the Stamford Bridge tension and seemingly put Chelsea on their way to three points.

But, sensationally, Everton drew level four minutes later.

The energetic Gordon won a free-kick down the left and he sent in the delivery which Branthwaite poked home to send the away end wild. It was the defender’s first goal for the club.

Chelsea still had plenty of time to lay siege to the Everton goal but their attacks fell flat with substitutes Ross Barkley and Saul Niguez upsetting the rhythm that made them flow in the first half.

Everton showed great doggedness to hold on and remain in 14th in the Premier League, while there will be questions for Chelsea to answer now about their title credentials.

What’s next?

Chelsea go to Wolves in the Premier League at 2pm on Sunday, while Everton’s game with Leicester has been postponed.

Source link