Defence holds to deny Chelsea as Allardyce remains undefeated

Saturday 23 December 2017  0 Comments  [Jump to last]
Everton 0 - 0 Chelsea

Jordan Pickford kept another clean sheet with some important saves and was grateful to watch Ashley Williams's header come off his own bar

Everton dug in to earn a point against Chelsea as they extended their unbeaten run in the Premier League to six matches.

It was a performance heavily reliant on the dogged defending and some crucial interventions from Jordan Pickford as Sam Allardyce's side failed to register a shot on target in the 90 minutes.

Ashley Williams went closest to scoring for either side when he headed a cross off his own crossbar in the second half while, at the other end, Michael Keane wasted the Blues' best and only real chance when he put a free header over the bar in injury time.

With Wayne Rooney absent through illness and rumours of an injury to Mason Holgate, Allardyce was forced into a couple of changes as Tom Davies came back into the starting XI and Keane and Phil Jagielka partnered in defence.

Morgan Schneiderlin retained his place alongside Idrissa Gueye in defensive midfield and the pairing was an important one as Everton set out to try and contain Chelsea while relying on Dominic Calvert-Lewin's industry and hold-up play as the outlet for consistent long balls out from the back.

If Allardyce had been hoping to catch the champions on an off-day, he would be disappointed. Chelsea began on the front foot, with Pedro firing narrowly wide early on and Jagielka twice making goal-line blocks to keep the contest goalless in the 10th minute.

Isolated up front, Calvert-Lewin was mainly employed as target for Pickford's clearances but after Davies had dragged a rare shot wide, the young striker's determination yielded the home side's best chance of the first half on the stroke of half-time.

Robbing Marcos Alonso on the touchline, he drove into the box but ill-advisedly went for glory rather than play in Gylfi Sigurdsson arriving in space and his effort was blocked.

Allardyce made a double change at the break, withdrawing Davies and Aaron Lennon in favour of Williams and Sandro Ramirez but after a Pedro shot had been parried away by Pickford, the Blues' boss was forced into another change when Gueye was forced off with what looked to be a hamstring injury just four minutes into the second half.

While failing to mount anything of substance going forward, Everton were at least keeping the visitors at bay but it took a couple more saves from Pickford and some fortune when Williams came within inches of putting through his own goal to keep them off the scoresheet.

The point keeps Everton in ninth place heading into successive away games to close out 2017 and extends Allardyce's unbeaten run to six in all competitions but the pattern of the game will keep the Blues' attacking short-comings at the forefront of the manager's mind as the January transfer window approaches.