Chelsea Waive Top Four Slot After Anti-Climatic Loss To Everton

Maybe this was not such a bad weekend for Manchester United, after all. Chelsea arrived at Goodison Park in need of turning their game in ...

Maybe this was not such a bad weekend for Manchester United, after all.

Chelsea arrived at Goodison Park in need of turning their game in hand into three points in the race for the Champions League.

Instead, they remain outside the top four, succumbing 2-0 to Everton after a dismal second half display, defensive timidity matching a blunt attack. It was further confirmation how far this side has fallen since their title win of two years ago, individual class failing to compensate for visible imbalance and a worrying collapse under the first strain of pressure.
Everton’s vast second half improvement merited the victory, Richarlison’s header breaking through before Gylfi Sigurdsson tapped in after his 71stminute penalty was saved.

Marco Silva’s call for consistency was not exactly heeded – the hosts were as unadventurous in the first half as they were energised after the interval – but when they clicked the exposing of Chelsea’s defensive frailties was impressive.

David Luiz and Antonio Rudiger were especially awful having coasted through the first half, underlining why Maurizio Sarri’s problems extend further than the lack of clinical edge upfront - which failed to reward a more encouraging start to the fixture.

There was little sign of what would follow in the early stages, Chelsea intent on testing the emotional balance of Jordan Pickford. Unfortunately for Sarri, England’s number one was back to his best after his problems a week ago.

The visitors could have taken the lead on three occasions in the first seven minutes, Eden Hazard striking the post and Gonzalo Higuain’s more tame attempt cleared off the line by Michael Keane. Pedro and Jorginho also went close before half-time. It looked a matter of time before they broke through. That might have been Chelsea’s problem as they faced a different proposition 15 minutes later.

The shift in momentum was fierce, Everton full of vigour and Chelsea unresponsive.

Goodison optimism flourished when Andre Gomes forced Kepa Arrizabalaga into a smart save a few seconds into the second half. Four minutes later, Everton led from a set-piece. Sigurdsson’s corner found Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Arrizabalaga’s block dropped to Richarlison, who finished with a header.

The second came on 71 minutes when Marcos Alonso tripped the Brazilian, Sigurdsson relieved to tap-in after his penalty was saved.

For returning Goodison graduate Ross Barkley this was an especially forgettable homecoming. his every touch was jeered as he lasted 65 minutes, the greatest surprise being it was Ruben Loftus-Cheek rather than Mateo Kovacic replacing him.

By then, Chelsea looked bereft of ideas, Everton standing in appreciation for the latest young idol Richarlison.

Farhad Moshiri has indicated the new generation of youngsters will inspire the Goodison revival. That sometimes sound like it represents a leap forward in imagination as much as league position. Calvert-Lewin is a work in progress, and Richarlison’s erratic form mirrors that of the team.

Then you see the duo perform as they did in the second half here, with the confidence to terrorise defenders.

This was an afternoon of fresh hope for Silva, and familiar concern for Sarri.


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