The art of solid, stout and resolute defending was plain to see as the pragmatism of Sam Allardyce took centre stage. He probably figured that despite the upturn in Everton’s fortunes, to go toe-to-toe with Chelsea would probably be a mistake.
Everton went out with a point and came in with a point and whilst it wasn’t great Christmas entertainment, it sees the Blues remain unbeaten and defensive confidence continues to grow.
The last game before Christmas and a huge test for the resurgent Blues under Sam Allardyce, a visit of the reigning champions Chelsea. With four wins a draw under his belt, Big Sam was looking for his third successive victory over Chelsea and in aiming to achieve this, he selected a starting line-up with four changes: Pickford, Martina, Keane, Jagielka (c), Kenny, Gueye, Schneiderlin, Davies, Lennon, Sigurdsson and Calvert-Lewin.
Without the services of the suspended Morata and themselves on a good run of form with just ones loss in their last ten games, Chelsea boss Antonio Conte was still able to field a strong eleven of: Courtois, Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger, Moses, Kante, Bakayoko, Alonso, Willian, Hazard and Pedro.
For this Christmas cracker, Bobby Madley was awarded the refereeing responsibility.
The first half was anything but a Christmas cracker as Chelsea dominated the possession with Everton defending stoutly and relying on rare breaks and long balls to try and gain an advantage.
A Keane header found Lennon wide right and his quick cross found Sigurdsson but his shot was blocked.
Everton survived a tenth minute hiatus when a cross from Hazard saw two attempts with Phil Jagielka clearing twice off the line from Bakayoko and Willian.
Chelsea were dominating the play and DCL was looking somewhat isolated up front, but working hard as ever. Martina was harshly booked for his first tackle on Moses, Willian putting the free kick well over the bar.
Yannick Bolasie came out to warm up on 30 minutes, raising arguable the loudest cheer of the half. A good ball from Schneiderlin set Davies free through the middle but he snatched at his shot and pulled it wide of the target.
A pass from Keane was picked off by Bakayoko to release Pedro down the left channel, but Pickford narrowed the angle and turned the powerful shot over for a corner.
Gana Gueye won a strong tackle in midfield to set DCL away on the right wing against Christensen with the forward bullying the defender into a mistake. DCL worked his way into the box to see a shot blocked with Sigurdsson on the left screaming for the pass.
Half Time: 0-0
Sam Allardyce made two changes for the second half with Ashley Williams replacing Tom Davies and switching to a back three, and Sandro Ramirez replacing Aaron Lennon.
Pickford was early into action with a save from Pedro as he picked up a Williams block on Alonso.
With just four minutes of the half played, Everton had to use their third substitute as Gana Gueye went down, Beni Baningime his replacement.
Michael Keane was booked for a foul on Hazard on 56 minutes but shortly after the England man made a superb tackle on the Belgian as he tried to get free on the right flank.
Introducing the Everton Mishmash!
Fabregas replaced Pedro on 62 minutes and Pickford had to be alert to foil Hazard as the visitors looked to turn the screw. Batshuayi replaced Willian with twenty minutes to play.
Everton survived a scare as a cross from Moses saw the header from Williams hit the crossbar.
A Fabregas corner found Hazard who found Rudiger in the box, but Pickford was again in the right place.
Zapacosta replaced Moses in Conte’s final throw of the dice, but Everton were in no mood to give anything away and the terrific defensive display with Jagielka outstanding saw the Blues home.
And they could have snatched it right at the death when a Sigurdsson corner found Keane only for his header to clear the bar.