Everton fell to their first defeat of the new season going down rather too easily to the champions as they created nothing until the very late stages and further highlighting the need for the summer transfer sending to concentrate on securing a striker
Chelsea looking to capitalise on beating Spurs last time out saw Antonio Conte, even without Cahill and Hazard, select a strong line-up of: Courtois, Azpilicueta (c), Luiz, Rudiger, Moses, Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Willian, Pedro and Morata.
Playing their third away game in six days and without the injured Davy Klaassen and suspended Morgan Schneiderlin, Everton manager Ronald Koeman opted for a starting line-up of : Pickford, Baines, Jagielka (c), Williams, Keane, Holgate, Davies, Gana Gueye, Sigurdsson, Rooney and Ramirez. Notably, only Jagielka and Williams played in the corresponding fixture last season, a 5-0 defeat.
The man in the middle was Jonathan Moss.
Pleasant, warm sunshine greeted the teams in front of a shirt-sleeved Stamford Bridge crowd including a healthy and vocal contingent of Evertonians. Holgate with two excellent early involvements, throwing a dummy that Morata fell for and a crunching tackle on Alonso.
Gueye picked up an early yellow card for a late and dangerous tackle on Fabregas and just after, a quick Chelsea down the right ended with ambitious overhead kick from Lone Ranger look-alike Pedro clearing the bar.
Chelsea were beginning to impose themselves on the game and a Willian shot was deflected for a corner off Jagielka that eventually led to Pickford making a routine save on a low shot from Luiz. The Everton keeper was looking at a busy afternoon as Pedro and Willian swopped passes with the Spaniard seeing another slow shot well smothered.
Wayne Rooney went down under a 20th minute challenge from Alonso and he took issue with the referee over the tackle and its timing. Everton were in need of some inspiration as whilst coping adequately defensively, they were offering precious little offensively with Ramirez looking isolated in the extreme, and in danger of conceding the midfield to the home side.
And the point was hammered home in the 27th minute as some tiki-taka interplay between Fabregas and Morata saw the former finish with a well-placed, outside of the right foot, shot across the face of the Everton goal and beyond the diving Pickford.
Everton’s first effort didn’t arrive until past the half hour mark with a left foot shot by Gylfi Sigurdsson sailing well wide of the target.
Five minutes before the break and Chelsea doubled their advantage as they pressured Everton around the edge of the box leading to a pin-point cross from Azpilicueta finding Morata in space on the six-yard line and he made no mistake with his header.
Half Time: 2-0
Mo Besic replaced Tom Davies for the second half, hopefully with instructions to get tight to Fabregas and stop him running the midfield at will.
A Sigurdsson interception released Rooney and his feed for Ramirez saw a shot deflected away for a first Everton corner that came to nothing. At the other end, good work defensively from Besic was enough to deny Moses a clear shot.
Approaching the hour mark, Everton were still to inject some pace or creativity into the proceedings as Chelsea were in total command and the visitors were lucky not to concede a third when Azpilicueta fired a cross through the danger area and moments later Pedro fired wide. Moses then wasted a fine chance shooting straight at Pickford with Willian pleading for a pass.
Introducing the Everton Mishmash!
Dominic Calvert-Lewin replaced Ramirez in the 62nd minute to hopefully bring about some better pace and movement ahead of Rooney and Sigurdsson.
DCL with a good chase down the left flank got Everton forward in numbers for just about the first time in the game only for a disappointing shot from Rooney to bobble to safety, but DCL had shown that pace works.
Wayne Rooney was booked for dissent after over-vocalising a thrown-in decision. Rooney then span away from Azpilicueta, to find Sigurdsson who replayed the ball wide left for DCL to cross, but it was hammered clear with no Everton player able to get on the end of it.
Chelsea’s first change saw Bakayoko replace Pedro with 15 minutes to play ahead of Moses being yellow carded for a challenge on Baines. Batshuayi then came on for Alvaro Morata as Conte shuffled his packwith the game seemingly won.
Luiz was lucky not to get booked for a bringing down DCL and from the free kick, a speculative effort from Ashley Williams just cleared the crossbar.
Aaron Lennon got the final eight minutes at the expense of Phil Jagielka and his involvement immediately earned the reward of a corner. Chelsea cleared, but Everton kept some pressure on and Williams was unlucky to see a header from a Sigurdsson cross go narrowly wide.
Courtois finally saw action as he finger-tipped a Gana Gueye shot over the bar as at long last, Everton began to get players forward meaningfully and in numbers.
Sadly it was far too little, far too late to rescue anything from the game and Everton will be grateful for the international break to allow them to regroup and prepare for Spurs on September 9th.
Full Time: 2-0
Ronald Koeman, reflecting on his sides first reversal, mused, “I’m disappointed with the first half, our ball possession was poor. We didn’t have enough movement to give options.”
“When you’re up against Chelsea, you need to be at your best and we weren’t. The second half was better, but we lost it in the first.”
“We need at least two more players and a striker is the most important.”