No Tim Cahill, so a rather adventurous line-up saw David Moyes field two strikers against the League leaders, although any claim that Everton would play 4-4-2 or even 4-3-3 with Pienaar in an advanced role was perhaps a little too optimistic.
Chelsea started in determined fashion, dispossessing Hibbert instantly and winning a very early corner. But Everton stood firm and did thheir best not to play hoofball. Drogba came close with a cross shot but Jo was closer, an excellent shot from outside the area testing Cech and winning a corner.
Saha also had a poke before Pienaar was fouled and Baines curled in a nice free-kick that both Fellainin and Saha went for but the the last touch was off Terry onto the post with Cech beaten. It was one of those that bounced off the woodwork and then in off Cech's back. A goal in 11 mins... sadly far too early.
It only served to wake up a rather pedestrian Chelsea, Carhvallio dispossessing Saha and Lampard eventually furnishning a simple layoff for Drogba to hit first time well past Howard for the equalizer after 18 mins. From that, it was total domination, one-way traffic, Everton unable to breath. Saha again lost possession, this time in the Everton area, and it eventually came to Anelka who fired into the top of the net. Simple.
Baines put in a great cross for Saha who gets his head on the bal but it was way off target. Poor miss. Baines delivered another great free-kick but it was curling in too much for Fellaini and Saha. The third free-kick from the same place but Pienaar varied it, sadly to no real effect. Jo guilty of his hopless first touch after a superb pinpoint pass from Rodwell.
Heitinga got booked when Anelka beat him to a ball, the Dutchman sweeping away his feet right on the 18-yard line. The free-kick was smashed into the Everton wall by Lampard. Bambi was writhing in agony after a nothing clash with Carvallio. Everton were far better than usual in attempting to make something going forward but all it did was give the well-drilled Chelsea defence some good training routines.
Chelsea having secured the lead indignantly after that early Everton goal, eased off the pressure, while Jo once again collapsed with another malady in first-half stoppage time. David Moyes had had enough and put Yakubu on... and he scored in the fifth minute of stoppage time! A long throw won by Bily was headed on by Fellaini and not cleared properly by Chelsea with Baines getting the ball off a defender to Yakubu who simply poked it past Cech. Easy-peasy. 2-2!. And Yakubu's first goal since returning from that career-ending Achilles blow-out.
Constant Chelsea pressure after the break denied Everton possession until Saha had a break on but lacked support and lost it rather poorly. More fannying around in defence finally saw Drogba punch home another go-ahead goal after Hibbert failed to intercept the cross.
Yet another free-kick for Everton, this one won by Baines, but it was Heitinga who played it in and bizarrely, Drogba's mheaded clearnace smacked off Saha's back and careened over Cech into the Chelsea net! Sweet!!!
Less convincing Chelsea pressure followed before yet another free-kick gifted to Everton but Heitinga's blast off the wall was a wasted opportunity.. while at the other end Ballack's free-kick tested Howard, with Chelse coming close again from the corner and follow-up play.
For the fourth season in succession, Everton tempered the Chelsea storm at Stamford Bridge and came away with a hugely satisfying point, having lost an early lead but then twice forcing their way back to parity in an entertaining 3-3 draw. That they did with a makeshift back-four and on the home turf of the Premier League leaders made it all the more pleasing.
Not that Lady Luck didn't play a pivotal role in proceedings — there were varying degrees in fortune about all three of the Blues' goals, but few would begrudge David Moyes's side a hard-earned point that extended Chelsea's winless run to four games in all competitions.
With Joseph Yobo and Sylvain Distin ruled out with hamstring injuries, Everton were again without their first-choice central defensive unit, though Moyes was at least able to field two players who have played there at the top level in Lucas Neill and the returning John Heitinga. Tony Hibbert moved to right back, the manager electing not to throw Seamus Coleman to the lions despite his scintillating displays against AEK Athens and Tottenham, and in a rare but enforced move due to Tim Cahill's suspension, the Blues played the entire game with two strikers.
Louis Saha led the line with Jô playing slightly deeper and the difference to the Blues' approach was visible for most of the game. The team finally had an outlet to not only relieve pressure but also mount counter-attacks and that kept the home team preoccupied enough with that threat to preclude the incessant waves of pressure that usually characterise these encounters against the top sides.
Indeed, Moyes had clearly instructed his players to simply do what the traveling Evertonians would ask — namely, give Chelsea a go. And though an early slip by Hibbert handed the home side a corner on their first attack and Didier Drogba dragged a fourth-minute shot wide to send alarm bells ringing in the Blues' defence, there was also action at the other end as Everton enjoyed the better of the early going.
Jô seemed to take an age before pulling the trigger in the eighth minute, but when he did he produced a terrific shot from 20 yards that Peter Cech palmed away for a corner. Saha then screwed a shot somewhat disappointingly wide from a similar distance a couple of minutes later.
With 10 minutes on the clock, though, Frank Lampard clipped Steve Pienaar midway inside his own half and Leighton Baines floated a dangerous ball into the crowded area. Saha rose, the ball seemed to come off John Terry's arm and as Cech scrambled across his line, it bounced off the post, hit the 'keeper and rolled into the net. 1-0 to Everton... and, as at Wembley in May, that feeling that we'd scored too soon!
And so it seemed to prove. Everton had been ahead just seven minutes when Ricardo Carvalho mugged Saha of the ball, found Lampard in the "D" and he laid it off simply to Drogba who emphatically curled a fine finish into the far side of Tim Howard's goal.
Suddenly, Carlo Ancelotti's team came forward in droves, pinning the Blues back and Heitinga had to be alert to hack the ball away off Drogba's toe around 10 yards from goal to clear the immediate danger. Parity lasted just five minutes, though. When Saha sliced horribly his attempted clearance of a corner and it fell to Terry inside the box, Ivanovic picked up his knock forward and found Nicolas Anelka who scooped the ball cleanly over Howard and into the roof of the net.
It was at that point that you feared the floodgates might open. Chelsea had their tails up, the crowd behind them and the confidence that comes from having the kind of talent in your ranks that can erase a one-goal deficit with such lightning effectiveness.
But Everton quickly regained their footing and started threatening again at the other end. Baines found Saha with a great cross but the Frenchman miscued with his header and the same combination almost produced a carbon copy of the first goal but Baines' free-kick just eluded the striker's lunge.
Lampard then drove a direct free-kick into the wall after Heitinga had been booked, perhaps harshly, for scything down Anelka with an attempted clearance, and Howard denied the French international by gathering his low drive at the second attempt in what looked like it might be the last chance of the half.
In the end, referee Phil Dowd permitted five minutes of stoppage time after treatment to Jô in the closing stages to an injury that eventually forced the Brazilian off after he dropped to the turf for the third time clutching his leg. Yakubu came on to replace him and with his first touch, he poked Everton level.
Diniyar Bilyaletdinov's throw on the left was flicked on by Marouane Fellaini and when Chelsea couldn't clear and Baines nipped it off Ivanovic, the ball rebounded off the legs of Carvalho and Yakubu stabbed home the loose ball.
2-2 at half-time and the game suddenly had a very different complexion. Everton had not only exposed some serious weakness in the home defence at set-pieces, they had given themselves a enormous confidence boost in holding off their superior hosts and clawing themselves back to level terms.
Not surprisingly, Chelsea came out from the interval with renewed intent and their cause was helped by a succession of clumsy and, frankly, unnecessary fouls by Fellaini. Thankfully, Ballack couldn't produce anything from the more dangerous of the two free kicks outside the Everton box and Fellaini atoned somewhat by heading Lampard's free kick over his own bar for a corner.
In general, though, the Blues were sitting too deep and they were punished just before the hour mark when their hosts reclaimed the lead. Ivanovic sent in a dangerous cross which eluded Hibbert and Pienaar allowed Drogba to steal in ahead of him at the back post. One well-placed volley later and the Ivorian striker was celebrating a second goal. 3-2 and, you would have thought, Chelsea would shut up shop.
Their new lead lasted just four minutes, though. Ivanovic fouled Baines midway inside the Chelsea half and Heitinga it was who floated the ball towards the six-yard box. Saha leapt for it and though he didn't make contact, he'd done enough to put off Drogba who headed into the back of the Everton No 9 and the ricochet looped over the 'keeper and nestled in Cech's goal.
3-3, and when Ballack tripped Bilyaletdinov 30 yards from goal, another opportunity to sling the ball into the danger zone presented itself, but Heitinga went for glory and hammered his free kick into the defensive wall.
That set up a final assault by Chelsea for the last quarter of an hour or so, a period in which Everton lived a little dangerously but managed to hold firm. Howard pushed a Ballack free kick over the bar and then wisely elected to bat Drogba's cross-cum-shot behind as well, before safely gathering Drogba's header. Carvalho ghosted in at the near post to meet a Florent Malouda corner over and Drogba again went close with a shot on the swivel that flashed wide of Howard's post.
The Blues occasionally had an outlet on the counter-attack but Pienaar and Bilyaletdinov were generally having off days and promising breaks broke down. Rodwell had a deflected effort saved from Saha's nice hold-up and lay-off but when Bilyaletdinov allowed himself to be robbed cheaply when he could have just taken it into the corner with stoppage time winding down, he gifted Chelsea once last chance to win it.
Thankfully, when the ball fell invitingly to Ballack 18 yards out, the German drove his shot a couple of feet wide and the traveling faithful were able to greet the final whistle with a satisfied roar.
At 2-1, it looked like another routine Sky Four win over the Blues but Moyes's boys deserve enormous credit for sticking at it and grabbing a point by becoming the first team to score three times at Stamford Bridge in the League since Bolton Wanderers last season... and they lost 4-3.
Yes, they were somewhat fortunate but they defended admirably despite the three goals they themselves conceded and Neill in particular played very well. Yes, all three Everton goals came from set-piece situations but with Pienaar and Bilyaletdinov well below their best, and Fellaini and Rodwell sitting deep, it was testimony to the effectiveness of the two-striker formation that the Blues carried the threat from open play that they did.
Yet more fuel to the growing fire of confidence and spirit building in the bellies of Moyes's depleted squad, though, as they seek to pull away from the bottom reaches of the table.
Howard 8, Hibbert 7, Neill 8*, Heitinga 8, Baines 7, Rodwell 6, Fellaini 6, Pienaar 6, Bilyaletdinov 5, Jo 7 (Yakubu 7), Saha 8,
Everton take their patched-up defence into the lion's den this weekend hoping to do something they haven't done so far this century — win at Stamford Bridge. Joseph Yobo has been ruled out until after Christmas with a hamstring injury and Sylvain Distin is a major doubt with the same injury.
That means that Tony Hibbert will almost certainly be pressed into service as an emergency centre-half and he would almost certainly have been partnered by John Heitinga had Tim Cahill not picked up a fifth booking on the season against Spurs. The Dutchman served a one-match suspension of his own last Sunday and it's probably a toss-up between him and Lucas Neill over which plays central defence and who plays in midfield.
And unless he's asked to play on the right wing, Seamus Coleman will probably make his first Premier League start at right back. Working from the almost automatic assumption that David Moyes won't play 4-4-2 or employ Yakubu or Jo as auxiliary wingers, the remainder of the midfield will then pick itself, with just Steven Pienaar, DIniyar Bilyaletdinov and Marouane Fellaini available
Up front, it'll come down to Louis Saha's fitness. The Frenchman, who scored that memorable but ultimately fruitless early goal at Wembley the last time the two sides met, has been struggling with a calf strain and has been employed as a super-sub in recent weeks. If he isn't deemed fit enough to start, Jo will likely get the nod as Yakubu still lacks sharpness and, perhaps crucially, his manager's confidence at the moment.
The League leaders are winless in three games in all competitions and lost Michael Essien to a four-week layoff this week. In addition to the Ghanaian dynamo, Chelsea are without Deco, Alex, Soloman Kalou and Jose Boswinga, but Carlo Ancelotti has more depth in his squad than his opposite number this weekend.
The Blues haven't beaten Chelsea in any competition for nine years and it's hard to see that record changing this weekend, but there's always hope that Moyes's boys can catch the Londoners unawares and on the back foot following their defeat to Manchester City.
|Premier League Scores|
|Premier League Table|
|2009-10 Reports Index|
|When Skies Are Grey||Report|
|Everton fans' reports|
|Other media reports|
|4 the Game||Report|
|Carvalho (85 Belletti)|
|J Cole (76' Malouda)|
|Ballack (88' Borini)|
|Subs not used|
|Jo (45+3' Yakubu)|
|Saha (94' Agard)|
|Subs not used|
|Premier League Scores|
|Saturday 12 December 2009|
|Man Utd||0-1||Aston Villa|
|Sunday 13 December 2009|
|Premier League Table|
|After 13 Dec 2009|
|Premier League Scores|
|Tuesday 15 December 2009|
|Wednesday 16 December 2009|
|Premier League Table|
|After 16 Dec 2009|