Setback for Chelsea as poor defending proves costly for Potter’s side
Everton came to Stamford Bridge, sat back, and held their hosts to a 2-2 draw. Potter’s players looked dejected when the Toffees levelled in the 89th minute. And they were right to be — their defending let them down in the end and cost them two points.
Mateo Kovacic almost gave Chelsea the perfect start when he volleyed acrobatically from Ben Chilwell’s corner, except the ball landed just wide.
Chilwell was back in the England team this week after his recent injury woes kept him out of the World Cup, and on his 50th Premier League outing for the Blues, he produced a similarly busy performance to his display against former employers Leicester last weekend.
From another of his crosses, Havertz hung in the air but headed wide. 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 to their feet, swivelling out of danger with admirable skill, and getting Chelsea moving up the pitch.
It was the Blues who dominated possession throughout the match and especially in a hugely one-sided first half, but on the occasions when they found themselves defending, they won the ball back quickly and countered with pace and purpose.
Fernandez, Felix and Havertz were a huge part of that, always looking forward and seldom picking out the wrong pass.
It took until the second half for Chelsea to break the deadlock, but it was no surprise that it came from the superb Fernandez, whose cross-field pass invited Chilwell to cross first time. Michael Keane stuck a leg out, but it landed in the path of Felix, who tucked the ball into the corner via the post with real precision.
It was his second Chelsea goal, and a deserved one. He was lively all afternoon.
Everton plugged away without really threatening, but then suddenly out of nowhere they were level when James Tarkowski nodded a corner on and Abdoulaye Doucoure got above Kalidou Koulibaly, generally poor all match, to steer in.
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 penalised for felling Reece James.
It was a soft penalty, but it was ultimately the right call by the referee. Havertz delayed, sent Pickford the wrong way, and Chelsea were back ahead.
Dwight McNeil came close from the left as Everton continued to be a counter-attacking threat, feeding off scraps when Chelsea did lose the ball.
But the Toffees got their reward late on when 22-year-old academy graduate Ellis Simms tore past Koulibaly, who was run ragged, and then shot 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 feel their momentum has been halted after three straight wins. Chelsea remain 10th with relegation-threatened Everton now 15th. Nothing comes easy in the Premier League.