Kai Havertz stars as Chelsea maintain their place in the top four.
On this very day last year, Chelsea played their final game in front of a crowd at Stamford Bridge before COVID-19 took its toll. 365 days later, the Blues were back in action against the same opponents as Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton made the trip to South-West London.
Since appointing Thomas Tuchel in January, Chelsea have been in spectacular form – remaining unbeaten in their 10 games under the German whilst managing to earn 8 clean sheets in the process.
Their opponents however were carrying some form of their own, as Everton had won their previous 3 before their Monday night encounter with the Blues. The Merseyside club also managed to keep clean sheets in each of their victories, which helped to add to value of their game against Chelsea.
Ahead of the clash against his former club, Ancelotti made 2 changes to his Everton side, as both Bernard and Abdoulaye Doucouré made way for Allan and Gylfi Sigurðsson.
The Blues however saw a heavy shuffle to their pack, as Thomas Tuchel made 5 changes ahead of the clash against Everton – with Kurt Zouma, Marcos Alonso, Mateo Kovačić, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Kai Havertz all named in the starting eleven.
With both sides in the hunt for Champion’s League football next season, Monday night’s clash between Chelsea and Everton was a ‘must win’ for either side.
Under Tuchel Chelsea have typically played possession-based football, which is exactly how they started in the opening stages of the game. The Blues were confident on the ball, with the visitors happy to sit back and comfortably defend.
On the 15th minute, Chelsea had a corner which was easily dealt with by Everton. The rebound was then collected by Jorginho, who immediately connected on the volley as he saw his effort drift wide of the post. A minute or so later, he tried another volley from a similar set up – but this time the connection wasn’t as sweet.
Chelsea fans would however be delighted to be seeing more of Kai Havertz, who caught the eye in the opening half hour with superb movement. The German was eager to impress following his return to the team, whilst also playing in a new central role.
On the 28th minute, Everton found themselves with a free kick in a dangerous position as Jorginho brought down Richarlison just over 20 yards from goal. The free kick was taken by Lucas Digne, but the Chelsea wall remained strong the deny the French fullback.
Just 3 minutes later, Chelsea found themselves in front following a Ben Godfrey own goal.
The breakthrough was delivered following great play from Callum Hudson-Odoi. Who did terrifically to lure the Everton defenders forward before dispatching a through ball into the path of Marcos Alonso. The Spanish defender then fizzed a great pass across goal, with Kai Havertz knocking the ball onto Godfrey – leaving Pickford with no chance of keeping it out of the net.
There were later chances for both Alonso and Richarlison at either end, but a save from Jordan Pickford alongside brilliant defending from Chelsea’s Andreas Christensen kept the game at 1-0 going into the break.
There was work to do for Everton in the second period, after an opening 45 minutes of which they struggled to break down a disciplined Chelsea backline. Toffee’s striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin had less touches that goalkeeper Édouard Mendy in the first half, which really told the story for the visitors.
Despite their attacking struggles, Everton however still had to deal with the fact that Chelsea was hungry for a second, as Marcos Alonso came close just 5 minutes into the second half following a fantastic free kick.
On the 53rd minute, Chelsea had the ball in the net through Kai Havertz – however the German international was penalised for handball by referee Chris Kavanagh which was later approved by VAR.
There was a chance for Everton just minutes later as the Toffee’s worked the ball in a dangerous position towards Richarlison. However, the in-form striker lost his footing and balance, which resulted in the Brazilian failing to hit the target.
Pickford was once again called into action on the hour mark to deny the impressive Callum Hudson-Odoi, who continued to look dangerous for Tuchel’s Blues.
However, on the 64th minute Kai Havertz was brought down inside the penalty area by the first choice England goalkeeper – resulting in Chelsea being awarded a penalty and a chance to double their lead.
With a hop, skip and a jump – Jorginho converted Chelsea’s penalty to score his 6th of the campaign.
A 2-goal lead was enough to put the Blues into cruise control, although they did come close to a third in the 80th minute as Timo Werner was denied from close range by Pickford once more.
The Everton shot stopper also once again denied Timo Werner and N’Golo Kanté in a double save just 5 minutes from time, preventing the Blues from scoring again as the game finished at 2-0.
After the whistle:
Jordan Pickford’s display was phenomenal; however, it wasn’t enough to prevent Chelsea from continuing their unbeaten streak to 11 – whilst continuing to press for a top four finish.
The Blues also looked superb defensively once again, seeking a 9th clean sheet from a possible 11 under Tuchel.
Everton are in fact a better team on the road than they are at Goodison, and a strong team generally speaking. The victory for Chelsea is certainly an impressive one, which once again highlights just how brilliantly they are currently playing.
Next up for Chelsea is a trip to Elland Road on Saturday afternoon, as they look to capitalise on their excellent form once again.
For Ancelotti’s Everton, it is a tough defeat to swallow given the circumstances, however the Toffees do have a game in hand – which they will need to win if they are to be a serious contender for Champions League football next season.
In attempt to get back to winning ways, Everton will hope to pick up three points on Saturday, where they return back to Goodison Park to take on Burnley.
Chelsea 2-0 Everton.
- Godfrey OG (31’).
- Jorginho (65’).
BBC Sports player of the match:
Jordan Pickford (Everton).
Chelsea: Mendy; Azpilcueta ©, Christensen, Zouma; James, Jorginho, Kovačić (80’), Alonso; Hudson-Odoi (66’), Werner (90’), Havertz.
- Subs: Mount (66’), Kanté (80’), Pulisic (90’).
Everton: Pickford; Holgate, Keane, Godfrey, Digne; Allan, Gomes (76’), Iwobi, Sigurðsson (70’); Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin.
- Subs: Davies (56’), King (70’), Bernard (76’).
Chelsea (67%) vs Everton (33%).
Chelsea (19) vs Everton (7).
Shots on target:
Chelsea (9) vs Everton (1).
Chelsea (7) vs Everton (3).
Chelsea (11) vs Everton (12).
- (credit | BBC Sport).
- (credit | Sky Sports Football).