Chelsea suffer setback as poor defense allows Everton to take crucial point at Stamford Bridge
Everton came to Stamford Bridge, sat down and held their hosts 2-2. Potter’s players looked crestfallen when the Toffees equalized in the 89th minute. And they were right – their defense let them down in the end and cost them two points.
Mateo Kovacic nearly gave Chelsea the perfect start when he acrobatically flew from Ben Chilwell’s corner, only for the ball to land just wide.
Chilwell was back in the England squad this week after recent injury problems kept him out of the World Cup, and in his 50th Premier League outing for the Blues he produced a performance every bit as charged as his display against former employers Leicester last weekend.
From another of his crosses, Havertz was suspended in the air but heading outward. It was a huge chance – the second of ten first-half shots in the first half. Only three hit the target, and none gave Jordan Pickford much to think about.
Enzo Fernandez and Joao Felix were excellent throughout – receiving the ball on their feet, pivoting out of harm’s way with admirable skill and getting Chelsea up the pitch.
It was the Blues who dominated the ball throughout the game and especially in an extremely one-sided first half, but on the occasions when they found themselves in defense they won the ball back quickly and countered with speed and determination .
Fernandez, Felix and Havertz were a big part of that, always impatient and rarely choosing the wrong pass.
It took until the second half for Chelsea to break the deadlock, but it came as no surprise that it came from the superb Fernandez, whose cross pass invited Chilwell through for the first time. Michael Keane kicked a leg out, but it landed in the way of Felix, who tucked the ball into the corner through the post with real precision.
It was his second Chelsea goal, and a well-deserved one. He was lively all afternoon.
Everton pulled away without much of a threat, but suddenly out of nowhere they were level when James Tarkowski nodded for a corner and Abdoulaye Doucoure passed Kalidou Koulibaly, usually poor all game, to head out.
Havertz cleared, but it was too late. Goal-line technology told referee Darren England it was a goal.
Just four points separate the bottom nine, and Sean Dyche’s Everton need every point they can get in their relegation dogfight. No wonder they were gutted, then, when Tarkowski was penalized for taking down Reece James.
It was a soft penalty, but it was ultimately the referee’s right call. Havertz delayed, sent Pickford the wrong way and Chelsea were back in front.
Dwight McNeil closed in from the left as Everton continued to be a counter-attacking threat, feeding on scraps when Chelsea lost the ball.
But the Toffees got their reward late when 22-year-old academy graduate Ellis Simms passed Koulibaly, who was ragged, then swung through Kepa Arrizabalaga far too easily.
It was a killer for Potter and for Chelsea, who were generally very positive. The nature of Everton having the last laugh will mean the hosts will feel their momentum has been halted after three straight wins. Chelsea remain 10th with relegation-threatened Everton now 15th. Nothing is easy in the Premier League.