Chelsea edge closer to title with resounding 3-0 win at Everton

Match Summary

Chelsea overcame arguably their biggest test remaining with a comfortable 3-0 win against Everton, and their first clean sheet in 11 matches.

With Tottenham playing later this evening, the Blues had the chance to throw down the gauntlet at their London rivals, but were made to wait until the 66th minute before Pedro made a stunning break-through. In the end, Cahill and Willian rounded off the win, as too did Tottenham in their game against Arsenal.

It means it is as you were in the Premier League table, with still four points separating the two sides, but with Chelsea left to face sides currently 19th, 8th, 13th and 20th, it would appear Conte has passed his biggest test, as shown by his reaction at full-time.

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Koeman’s heaviest league defeats in charge of Everton came against Chelsea earlier this season, but any hope for a similar rout was too optimistic. In fact, inside a minute, Barkley worked the ball well to Calvert-Lewin who hit the post, and it needed Cahill to deny former Chelsea man Romelu Lukaku a tap-in.

Lukaku’s opposite number, Diego Costa, did soon get stuck into the action, but neither he, nor Hazard, nor an advanced Matic, could produce a real tangible chance. Costa then had another glorious opportunity but lashed wide.

Lukaku was not proving his former employers wrong to the extent he would have undoubtedly have liked, but he did go close from 25 yards.

Tit-for-tat ensued for the remainder of the first half with neither Courtois nor Stekelenburg troubled closed up, and it looked like if Chelsea were to get their noses in front, it would need something special from afar.

Enter Pedro.

25 yards from goal and collecting a pass from Matic, the Spaniard dallied around the edge of the penalty area, and with little options, decided to bring the ball onto his favoured left foot and just hoof it. It was a spectacular drive and one which nestled into the top corner.

That opened things up for the visitors, who had before then been well-contained by a good man-marking system employed by Koeman, but with the shackles off, Cahill pounced for another.

A low Hazard free-kick was saved by Stekelenburg but not smothered, and Cahill pounced quickest from two yards out to tap in.

With nine minutes remaining and Conte satisfied to sit on the two-goal advantage, Ake, Willian and Fabregas came on in quick succession, but the latter two would add further delight to their boss’ face with the third seconds after coming on.

Fabregas did well to drive the ball to Everton’s by-line, and a neat cut-back for Willian’s first-touch presented the Brazilian with an open goal to aim at with Stekelenburg dragged out of position by Fabregas.

Especially pleasing for Conte will be Chelsea’s first clean sheet in the Premier League for some three months, especially knowing Everton have averaged 3.7 goals per game at Goodison Park in 2017 prior to this defeat.

Next stop Middlesbrough, but Tottenham will play first, some 72 hours before the leaders kick off.

What are your thoughts from the game? Leave your thoughts in the Comments section below!

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Man of the Match

GARY CAHILL: The clean sheet cannot be underestimated against such a potent an attack as Lukaku and Everton, and with little defensive solidity from Chelsea for the past 11 Premier League matches, it is about time to recognise the contribution of Gary Cahill. Leading the line well in Terry’s continued absence, dealt with the threat of Lukaku all afternoon, and popped up with the big second goal to kill off all Everton hopes. 7/10

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Manager Reaction

Conte was staying calm: “We must be pleased because we played a game with the head and, at this part of this season, it is important to use our head, then your heart and then your legs. I think we must continue this way — to play game by game and take three points in every game. We know every win in this part of the season is very important. The road is long so we need to rest and prepare in the right way.”

Koeman saw positives: “We did well, until 1-0 maybe. After that we had more problems but that was all about their quality, before that we played well and made it tough for them. It is really tough to beat Chelsea.”

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Fan View

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Post written by Martin Li. Martin has had five years’ blogging experience, writing for the likes of Bleacher Report and SWOL. He runs his own Chelsea blog — The Chelsea Chronicle — which has match reaction and analysis from every Chelsea match. You can follow him on Twitter.

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© Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle, 2011-2017. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this Blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Chelsea season left in tatters as Everton knock Blues out of FA Cup

Match Summary

Chelsea’s season ends in early March as the Blues lose their cool in the final 15 minutes to crash out of the FA Cup at the quarter-final stage.

Lukaku scored two excellent goals either side of the 80-minute mark to kill off all hope for his former side, as Costa appeared to bite Barry to earn his first marching orders for the Blues.

It means the visitors make the long journey home to SW6 knowing a week-defining season ends with nothing, after the mid-week exit of the Champions League to Paris Saint-Germain, meaning Hiddink and Terry leave Chelsea trophyless.

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It was a first half of much rough and tumble but zero quality. Kenedy charged down the left and a quick one-two off Pedro saw him blast the ball wide, but there would be limited quality on show from either side thereafter.

There would be plenty of players winding each other up though. Costa felt he was being picked on by Barry, and instantly reacted with a disguised elbow just seconds later. It earned him a yellow card and is the side to Costa’s game he cannot seem to shake off.

Pedro and Kenedy equally went all-in in challenges but it was not all rough from the visitors, who were on the receiving end of many a challenge themselves from Everton aggression, who clearly were set up to press high by Martinez.

The 25-minute mark had passed before a meaningful chance. Barkley floated a great ball to Cleverley, who turned but shot from too far out to trouble Courtois.

Everton were very strong on the right-wing as Lennon was keen to exercise his experience over Kenedy’s youthfulness and, with the occasion helping hand of cover from Pedro, the Brazilian handled the half very well.

The main cause for Chelsea concern would always be from Lukaku, their ex-player, and he had a free header from a Coleman cross but the teasing ball was just too high.

Fabregas found Pedro who rounded Robles but just ran out of space to do anything meaningful with the ball, nor was their sufficient contact to even attempt hitting the deck.

Willian had a free-kick well tipped over from a central position, whilst Cleverley was allowed another shot when Baines was given room to charge forward, but ultimately both sides were far too intricate and over-passed the ball in a cagey first 45 minutes, with both sides eager to make the semi-finals knowing there was no other competition to play for.

The second half started in Everton’s favour. Funes Mori headed over from a corner when in a good position, whilst Cahill needed to be quick to make a last-ditch slide tackle on Lukaku else the Belgian would have been in after Barkley beat Kenedy.

Costa should have scored when Fabregas found him but,after rounding Robles, was in too tight an angle and the ball ran agonisingly parallel to the goal-line without creeping over.

The game was becoming more and more open. Lukaku was proving a handful but Cahill was on his toes; meanwhile at the other end, Pedro was one-on-one with McArthur.

Courtois had to race off his line to beat Lukaku to a through-ball by Cleverley, but Lukaku would soon score his 24th goal of the season.

A through-ball behind Cahill to Lukaku looked innocuous but the rest was the Belgian’s work and what fine work it was too. The former Chelsea man beat four of his old team-mates, left Cahill for dead and raced into the box and beat compatriot Courtois with a composed finish. It was an excellent goal.

Chelsea now needed to react and Remy came on, but no sooner had he come on did Lukaku score his second. A Kenedy throw-in saw Everton pounce and the Brazilian played Lukaku on to rifle through Courtois’ legs.

The misery was just beginning. Costa looked to bite Barry and was sent off, as Terry came on to act as centre-forward. Even though Barry would then get sent off, everything went wrong in 15 minutes and Chelsea’s season ends in March.

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Man of the Match

Kenedy.thumbnailKENEDY: The youngster had a good game containing Lennon and was the defender not at fault with Lukaku’s first goal when Azpilicueta, Ivanovic and Cahill all were. He was the culprit to play Lukaku on side for his second goal though, but no other Chelsea player did anything of merit or looked bothered enough to turn in a Man of the Match performance as Chelsea need a quick rebuild. 5/10

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Manager Reaction

Hiddink knew this was the end of the season for his side: “I cannot criticise our attitude but the sharpness was left around the box. Everyone knows where Chelsea were. The first task was to get out of the relegation zone and we did that fast. There were two cups at stake [but] it is important now that we have the pride to play when there is nothing much at stake.”

Martinez was full of joy: “It is a fantastic feeling, more than anything the atmosphere that was created. every one of us will take it away. Romelu Lukaku’s goal was one of the great goals we will see in the FA Cup.”

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Post written by Martin Li. Martin has had five years’ blogging experience, writing for the likes of Bleacher Report and SWOL. He runs his own Chelsea blog — The Chelsea Chronicle — which has match reaction and analysis from every Chelsea match. You can follow him on Twitter.

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© Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle, 2011-2016. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this Blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Everton 3-1 Chelsea

Match Summary

Chelsea are 11 points behind leaders Manchester City after just five matches as they were pulled apart by Steven Naismith and Everton this Saturday lunch-time.

The Blues, who only lost three matches last campaign, have already lost three in their opening five, conceding a league-topping 12 goals in the process.

It is a far cry from the defensive rigidity shown last season and raises serious questions about Mourinho’s future, despite winning two trophies just a few months ago. How quickly things change.

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After 13 days of no Premier League action, Chelsea should have been racing out of the blocks, eager to put to bed the distrarous form before this international break.

Afforded that opportunity were the likes of Begovic, Zouma and Mikel, who displaced Courtois, Cahill and Willian, with John Terry returning after suspension.

The Chelsea back-line has conceded nine goals in four games this far, with three of those defeats, so it was no surprise to see Martinez’s men target them, and in particular Ivanovic, from the off.

And boy did it pay off, with Besic’s injury the blessing in disguise. This introduced Naismith into the action in the ninth minute, and it took him just eight minutes to break the deadlock, and only five further minutes to secure a second.

The first was as simple as it got. Naismith drove the ball forward and passed out to Galloway. One touch past the retreating Ivanovic and a second touch to swing the ball into the area and Naismith headed home, having been allowed ample space between Zouma and Terry. It was textbook stuff, and damningly the Champions League-winning Ivanovic and Terry were pulled apart by players who nearly joined Noriwich and who was signed from MK Dons. Something was going gravely wrong.

The second was, again, as simple as it got. Given yet more room, this time by the midfield duo of Matic and Mikel, Naismith took the ball and leathered it left-footed past Begovic. What have Chelsea done to upset the footballing gods this way?

Was the match over after 22 minutes? Matic would have something to say about that, with Everton suffering from a momentary lapse of concentration and themselves gifting Matic room to strike home from 30 yards.

Where would the Chelsea goals come from, if there were to be a resurgence in the second half? The answer is it would not.

Hazard, Fabregas and Costa were anonymous and Pedro was stifled by a tight Everton back-line.

Naismith would tear Chelsea apart one more time, though, slotting low past Begovic with Terry pulled out of position. It was his, and Everton’s day. Something is very, very wrong at Chelsea HQ.

What are your thoughts from the game? Leave your thoughts in the Comments section below!

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Man of the Match

nemanja-matic.thumbnailNEMANJA MATIC: He scored a goal. And was part of a team that conceded three. For him to be my Chelsea man of the match says it all. 4/10

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Manager Reaction

Mourinho was defiant after his own fans started to turn against him: “I don’t blame my players, I don’t blame myself. I don’t accept the result. I’m not feeling under pressure. I’m feeling the results are the worst ever in my career. I’m the man for the job. I’m the man who did so many good things for Chelsea. I’m the man.”

Martinez was delighted: “I react to this victory with incredible satisfaction. A performance like this gives you a feeling of pride, it was an incredible team performance. We knew from last season in Europe that if we wanted to be a winning team you need to retain a strong squad.”

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Post written by Martin Li. Martin has had four years’ blogging experience, writing for the likes of Bleacher Report and SWOL. He runs his own Chelsea blog — The Chelsea Chronicle — which has match reaction and analysis from every Chelsea match. You can follow him on Twitter.

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© Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle, 2011-2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this Blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Everton 3-6 Chelsea: Match Reaction

Match Summary

Chelsea and Everton served out a nine-goal thriller as this classic match was ironically helped by some shocking officiating.

The likes of Diego Costa, Ramires, Matic and Ivanovic all were on the score-sheet for the Blues, whilst ex-Blue Samuel Eto’o scored on his debut.

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The Londoners started with immense power: Costa slided the ball home after 35 seconds after great work by Fabregas.

But then the dodgy officiating kicked in. Ivanovic was a leg’s width offside whrn he doubled Chelsea’s lead within minutes. Referee Moss should then have sent off Howard for handling outside the box, and failed to make amends even when he later headbutted Azpilicueta.

Thankfully, the sheer number of goals should take the headlines, for it was that sort of yo-yo game.

Mirallas’ delightful header just before half-time made it game on, but a Coleman own goal early in the second looked to settle things.

Everton had other ideas as Chelsea became complacent. Naismith toe poked home, but Chelsea restored their two goal lead through Matic.

That was halved — again — through a sublime Eto’o header, but no-one could control anything as Ramires slid one home just a minute later.

Ten minutes of protective Chelsea play then allowed for Costa to grab his brace in injury time.

It makes it three wins from three, but it could have been much easier.

What are your thoughts from the game? Leave your thoughts in the Comments section below!

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Man of the Match

diego-costa.thumbnail DIEGO COSTA: Such a high-scoring game and Matic and Cahill can be proud of their defensive efforts despite the score-line painting a very different picture, but Costa has to be praised for starting and ending the rout. Effortless commitment and tireless approach, but must cut out the petulance because he is waiting for a red card if he keeps falling for opponents’ smart provocation. 8/10

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Manager Reaction

Mourinho was unhappy with aspects his side’s performance: “It was wonderful for everyone at the stadium and watching television around the world — but not for me. We are improving in other areas but not keeping the balance in defence. Wednesday afternoon we spent 90 minutes defending corners and free-kicks but today we conceded from a free-kick so I cannot be happy with the ridiculous goal we conceded.”

Martinez was likewise disappointed: “We started too slow. But even then I felt we showed great character and great belief and I felt we were getting back into it, but every time we did we were dealt a sucker punch. Our defending was not as good as it should be.”

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© Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle, 2011-2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this Blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Martin Li and The Chelsea Chronicle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Everton 1-2 Chelsea

Chelsea became the first team to beat Everton at Goodison Park this season, as Frank Lampard popped up with his 191st and 192nd Chelsea goals to secure his side all three points in a fierce tie.

With the third spot up for grabs for both sides, it needed the sheer quality of Frank Lampard to turn the game around, after the hosts went ahead with just 62 seconds played.

It means the England international is now just one goal behind Kerry Dixon, who is Chelsea’s second-highest scorer, and should Roman Abramovich sanction another contract for the veteran, the 11 goals he needs more to surpass Bobby Tambling’s feat may not be an impossible mission after all. And on this evidence, there is little reason to suggest why the long-serving Chelsea legend doesn’t deserve one.

The 33-year-old is currently fifth in the all-time leading Premier League scorers, a staggering 49 goals ahead of the next best midfielder, and Lampard does not for one second look like he is past it.

For when the big matches come, Frank delivers. Rafael Benitez has been fortunate to play the likes of Nordsjaelland, Norwich and Aston Villa in his early tenure as Blues’ boss, so when the biggest match of his reign thus far popped along, the likes of Frank Lampard needed to deliver Chelsea’s seventh win out of nine in this busy December month.

Everton have been on a magnificent run of form themselves. In fact, this was Chelsea’s first away win since 2008 at Goodison Park, ending the Toffees’ 13-match unbeaten home run.

And whenever these sides meet, it has always been a very close contest. The Blues have only won 38% of the encounters, with Everton winning 31% of the last 165 games these sides have been involved in.

Add that to the fact that you have to go back 13 games for the last time an Everton game was decided by a two-goal margin, you could expect that Benitez was not going to get a warm welcome back on Merseyside.

And it hardly got off to the perfect start for the European Champions. For all the threat Baines poses on the left, it was a Phil Jagielka cross from the right which started the panic. Anichebe’s header struck the post, but former Chelsea target Steven Pineaar hit home.

The woodwork was to be hit again from a Jelavic dead-ball situation, as Cech breathed a sigh of relief that the same post spared his blushes and bounced away to safety. No Premier League team has hit the woodwork more times than Everton this season, and the lack of pinpoint accuracy would prove costly.

Ramires’ task as Chelsea’s right-winger was to nullify any threat from Leighton Baines, but the energetic Brazilian was putting more of a shift going forwards, feeding in Juan Mata, whosd shot was saved by Tim Howard.

The initial Everton dominance was easing as Chelsea surged forward to make amends for early lapses in concentration, but where they ventured forward, so Everton countered, with Cech needing to be smart to stop firstly Osman, and then Jelavic.

But it was Chelsea who scored next. Frank Lampard hung around in the penalty box, and when Ramires’ lofted ball made its way towards Lampard, the midfielder glided the ball past Everton’s American goalkeeper, to pull Chelsea one back.

Everton’s only league clean sheet at Goodison Park this season was the opening day victory against Manchester United, meaning they have now conceded in 15 consecutive league games, the longest run of any side in the division.

But where they were leaky in defence, their attack more than made up for their defensive deficiencies. And with Petr Cech’s 400th Blues appearance cut short, a vulnerable Ross Turnbull, who was making his first league appearance of the season, was at the mercy of the Everton forwards.

Everton’s concerns were more than mirrored in Chelsea, with Fernando Torres making an uninspired impact thus far, so the news that Demba Ba looks to be on his way to Stamford Bridge will have certainly giving Chelsea some optimism going into the new year. The Senegalese striker has been prolific for Newcastle, being the league’s most third most prolific striker since 1st February 2011, behind only Van Persie and Rooney.

But who needs a striker when you have a sublime midfielder?

Super Frank Lampard put Chelsea ahead with 20 minutes to go, latching on to a Juan Mata shot, which was only parried by Tim Howard into the path of Lampard.

If this was his last match for the Blues, with talks about leaving in the January window, then this performance typifies Lampard’s role at the Club over the past decade.

Frank Lampard has now scored five or more goals in each of the last 16 Premier League seasons, and though the victory could have been more had Oscar and Torres been more productive, there was to be no denying Frank Lampard of all the headlines in tomorrow’s papers.

Chelsea have won all but one of the league matches with Lampard this season; without the influential vice-captain, the Blues have only won one, such is his influence.

So Chelsea condemned Everton to their first Premier League defeat at their home ground since the 1-0 loss to Arsenal some nine months ago. It was certainly a good way to end the historic year for the west London side.

Match Stats