Winning streak snapped as 5/10 Pulisic can’t inspire Chelsea
Chelsea‘s three-game winning streak was ended in dramatic fashion by an impressively resolute Everton at Stamford Bridge on Saturday when the Toffees battled back from a goal down twice to earn a 2-2 draw in Premier League play.
The hosts took the lead shortly after half-time through Joao Felix‘s threaded finish, only for Abdoulaye Doucoure to nod the visitors level with little more than 20 minutes remaining. Reece James’ surge into the visitors’ box was illegally halted soon afterward, however, giving Kai Havertz the opportunity to crack home the resultant penalty. Just as Chelsea looked set to wrap up a fourth straight victory, Toffees substitute Ellis Simms fired home an 89th-minute leveller to ensure a share of the spoils for Sean Dyche’s side.
Potter’s defensive trio of Wesley Fofana, Kalidou Koulibaly and Benoit Badiashile looks better with every passing game and, on those solid foundations, Chelsea were able to boss the first hour, and in attack they showed enough neat one-touch exchanges to suggest that Potter’s coaching is steadily joining the dots.
Once again, the Blues were left to lament their indecisive actions in the opposition box. Too many bad decisions in good positions proved costly and allowed parity to drift for too long. Everton grew in confidence as Chelsea looked increasingly leg-weary and the hosts’ poor game management was exposed in dramatic fashion.
Manager rating out of 10
5 — Potter’s side controlled the game for long periods but were never out of Everton’s sight. While there were positives in the hosts’ performance, the substitutions made by Potter at key times did little to help his side’s cause. Christian Pulisic’s withdrawal came just as his influence was growing, while the late additions disrupted Chelsea’s control of the game and the visitors were able to piece together a leveller without anything resembling pressure on the ball. A learning experience for the Blues boss.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Kepa Arrizabalaga, 6 — The Spain international marshalled his defence well and never wasted possession when it came his way, but generally he had little involvement, such was the balance of play. No blame attached for Doucoure’s goal from close range, but might have done better with Simms’ late leveller.
DF Wesley Fofana, 8 — Energetic, proactive and pacey throughout from the former France youth international. Had the answer to Everton’s occasional line of questioning and increasingly looks at home alongside Koulibaly. Might have further embossed his display with a goal, but headed over the bar from Ben Chilwell’s corner.
DF Kalidou Koulibaly, 7 — Read the danger astutely to snuff out Demarai Gray’s attempted surge through. Provided a comedic moment when Amadou Onana dramatically bounced off him, and also did really well to see off Dwight McNeil’s raid late in the first half. Harshly booked for a foul on Alex Iwobi but looked impassable until the later stages when he tired and crucially allowed Simms to surge through and level.
DF Benoit Badiashile, 7 — Showed his inexperience with a needless foul on Gray in a dangerous position toward the end of the first period, but his error went unpunished. That proved to be perhaps the only blot on an otherwise solid showing as he continues to assimilate well to Potter’s defence.
MF Reece James, 6 — The wing-back’s passing radar was a little sketchy at times, but his presence alone makes him the main man on Chelsea’s right flank when fit. Not yet back to his top form, but grew into the game and made a major contribution by winning the hosts’ penalty.
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MF Enzo Fernandez, 6 — Always below the visitors’ radar, always looking to make late runs into the box, but his teammates’ supply line wasn’t good enough. Everton couldn’t get near him to dispossess him when the ball did come his way. Showed one brilliant piece of skill to shed McNeil in first-half injury time, and his cross-field pass played a big part in Felix’s opener, but he tired late on in a muddled midfield and lost Doucoure in a key part of Everton’s equaliser.
MF Mateo Kovacic, 6 — The skipper should have broken the deadlock inside five minutes, but skewed an inviting volleyed chance off target. That aside, a positive display replete with countless interceptions and astute angled passes that posed constant menace to Everton’s defensive lines.
MF Ben Chilwell, 6 — Involved from the first minute. Strong in the challenge defensively and ever on the hunt in attack. Showcased his boundless energy, but Chelsea couldn’t bring him into the game often enough. When they could, he was a constant threat with his delivery, both in open play and from set pieces.
FW Christian Pulisic, 5 — Off the pace early on, not helped by taking a Gray free kick flush in the forehead. Saved his best contribution of the first half for the last seconds of injury time when his superb cross went to waste. Started the second period in a livelier mood and had a fine finish ruled out for offside, but was replaced by Conor Gallagher just before the hour.
FW Kai Havertz, 6 — Despite recent improved form in front of goal, the youngster still looks happier when dropping deeper to get involved in the play. Too often looked backward when in possession. Sent a decent headed opening straight at Jordan Pickford in the early stages of the second half. Showed his nerve with a cool penalty conversion.
FW Joao Felix, 7 — A mixed first period featured a frustrating lack of end product alongside some joyous snippets of approach play. One little turn had the home crowd roaring. Had a powerful shot on the half-hour mark well fielded by Pickford, but the Portugal international had his revenge with a well-taken opening goal. A constant threat until his late removal.
MF Conor Gallagher, 5 — Had one lively late run curtailed by Michael Keane but was unable to help Chelsea get a handle on the visitors’ resurgence.
MF Ruben Loftus-Cheek, N/R — Introduced in place of the tiring Kovacic late on but was unable to get into the game.
FW Carney Chukwuemka, N/R — Given precious little time to shine and couldn’t get into the pace of the game, as shown by his passive role in the visitors’ second equaliser.
DF Trevoh Chalobah, N/R — Thrown on for the final moments and unexpectedly spent most of his time in the Everton half looking for a last-gasp winner.