Chelsea lost even more ground on the leaders Manchester City with a goalless draw at Goodison Park against a stubborn Everton side who are still unbeaten under Sam Allardyce. The Blues missed Alvaro Morata’s poacher’s instinct and the front three of Hazard, Willian and Pedro struggled to get past the deep-lying Everton defence.
The pattern of the game was obvious from the very first minute when Eden Hazard couldn’t quite get a touch on Victor Moses’s dangerous ball across goal. The Blues continued to dominate for much of the first half and almost got the breakthrough their fluid play deserved after 10 minutes. It was pinball inside the Everton penalty area and Toffees captain Phil Jagielka cleared off the line not once, but twice. Tiemoue Bakayoko poked the ball past Jordan Pickford but Jagielka was there to prevent the goal before Willian bundled the ball goal-wards only to see it come off the line again by the defender.
The Brazilian came close again a few minutes later when his free-kick flew narrowly over the crossbar with Marcos Alonso watching on with reluctance after Willian had taken the ball for himself. Everton had a chance of their own when Tom Davies won the ball in midfield before dragging his shot wide of Thibaut Courtois’s right-hand post. Pedro had Chelsea’s best clear-cut chance of the half but Pickford was there to stop his powerful near-post effort. Pickford and Michael Keane, two £30m purchases in the summer, were the standout performers in Everton blue unfortunately for Chelsea.
Sam Allardyce switched from a back four to a back five at halftime and that gave Chelsea’s front three even less space in and around the penalty box. The Blues looked to capitalise on this uncertainty after a switch of formation with some quick-fire chances after halftime and Pedro had Chelsea’s best chance of the game when the ball fell to him at the back post but his effort was saved by Pickford once again. Marcos Alonso’s follow up was cleared by Ashley Williams with the ball heading into the far corner.
The rest of the second period had very little quality with both midfields cancelling each other out and Everton seeing the game out in relative comfort. Chelsea, with Cesc Fabregas on the pitch, really piled the pressure on in the closing stages but it was too little too late for the Blues as they came away from Merseyside with a point despite having 28 attempts. Everton did not manage a single shot on target but did come close to winning in during stoppage time through Keane. The centre-half ventured forward for an Everton corner but couldn’t guide his header on target after getting the better of Antonio Rudiger.