Everton 2 Chelsea 0
Everton have nine of the 10 points deducted for financial rule breaches back already. Sean Dyche’s defiant team made it a hat-trick of Premier League victories, Everton’s first since the days of Carlo Ancelotti in March 2021, with another impressive display to deepen Mauricio Pochettino’s problems at Chelsea.
The expensively assembled visitors were again found wanting in front of goal, and in terms of character, as they succumbed to a seventh league defeat of the season courtesy of Abdoulaye Doucouré's latest goal and substitute Lewis Dobbin’s first for the club.
While Everton sought to maintain momentum from Thursday’s resounding home win over Newcastle, Chelsea needed to regain some having suffered another loss 24 hours earlier at Manchester United. The visitors made a decent start in a scrappy first half but had few answers to Everton’s vastly improved second-half showing.
Raheem Sterling and Nicolas Jackson were both dropped to the bench following the loss at Old Trafford. Reece James returned to make his first start since being sent off against Newcastle last month but it was short-lived as the Chelsea captain’s injury woes resurfaced again.
James, who has struggled with hamstring and knee problems this year, signalled what appeared another hamstring injury to the bench just before the half-hour and was replaced by Levi Colwill. The England defender has not completed 90 minutes since April, a fact that will not be lost on the watching Gareth Southgate.
Injuries and fatigue contributed to the lack of fluency on display. Ashley Young also exited with a hamstring issue having been tasked with a second successive start in four days at the age of 38. It was a big ask that backfired, with the veteran struggling against the pace of Mykhailo Mudryk prior to his departure.
Mudryk and Marc Cucurella carried Chelsea’s biggest threat down the left but an end product was lacking throughout. Jackson’s replacement, Armando Broja, flicked over from a Mudryk cross and Cole Palmer brought a fine save out of Jordan Pickford with a 25-yard drive that was heading for the top corner.
The Everton goalkeeper was relatively untroubled otherwise. Jarrad Branthwaite’s physical battle with Broja and another excellent display from Vitalii Mykolenko were major factors in a commanding defensive performance. The England manager will also have noted the continued blossoming of Branthwaite alongside James Tarkowski in the heart of Dyche’s defence.
Everton threatened little before the interval but attacked with greater aggression and purpose in the second half. Dwight McNeil was central to the improvement. The in-form winger forced the first genuine save from Robert Sánchez moments after the restart when drilling Jack Harrison’s pass towards the bottom corner. The Chelsea goalkeeper did well to fly across his goalline and push clear. He had no chance of stopping the all-important breakthrough.
McNeil created the opener with a surging run through the Chelsea half, brushing off the attentions of Conor Gallagher en route, that ended with a piercing pass into Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s run behind Benoît Badiashile. Sánchez was quick off his line to smother the striker’s shot with his chest but the rebound fell to Doucouré lurking on the right of the penalty area. The midfielder drove an emphatic finish past the stranded keeper for his sixth league goal of the season.
It was Doucoure’s 11th goal since Dyche became Everton manager. He had scored five in just over two years prior to the appointment and had been ostracised from the first team set-up by Frank Lampard.
It took a tireless rearguard action for Everton to ensure Doucouré's latest strike resulted in three points. Palmer, who was booked in the first half for diving, stung Pickford’s palms with a low free-kick moments after the breakthrough. Pochettino introduced Sterling and Jackson to intensify the pressure. The two almost combined to produce an equaliser late on but Jackson scuffed his close-range shot and the outstanding Tarkowski cleared yet again. The Everton captain was instrumental in repelling Chelsea’s efforts and helping his goalkeeper preserve a third successive clean sheet.
The hat-trick of Premier League wins was made safe in stoppage-time, courtesy of a corner won by McNeil. Djordje Petrovic, who was brought on to replace the injured Sánchez, punched James Garner’s delivery to the edge of the Chelsea area under pressure from Everton’s No 7. His clearance dropped to 20-year-old substitute Dobbin, who opened his senior account for the club with the sweetest of connections into the bottom corner. – Guardian