Goodison Park has had to wait a long time — far too long — to celebrate an Everton win over the current “big six”. That 4-0 hammering of Manchester City in January 2017, one that seemed at the time to herald a defining moment in Ronald Koeman’s tenure, felt like a distant memory coming into this clash against Chelsea and there was every sign in the first half today that this was going to be another afternoon of misery for the Blues faithful.
There were long periods before half time where the gulf in the two teams’ ability to retain and move the ball was verging on embarrassing — a men-against-boys exercise, it seemed only a matter of time before Maurizio Sarri’s seemingly improving outfit scored the goals that would ease them to their first victory over Everton in three games.
Indeed, had it not been for a deflection guiding Eden Hazard;s shot onto the post or some stellar work from Jordan Pickford, himself reacting to a poor day at the office at St James’s Park in laudably impressive fashion, Chelsea probably would have been comfortably on their way to three points by the halfway stage.
Everton’s vexing split personality remains, however, and having made it to the break with a clean sheet intact, it was left to Silva’s apparent half-time inspiration to spur his charges into raising their game by a significant degree early in the second period.
The result was a goal for Richarlison within five minutes of the restart and, eventually, a second scored on the follow-up from a saved spot-kick by Gylfi Sigurdsson with 18 minutes to go that reduced Chelsea to the role of beaten side long before the actual conclusion of the game.
Forced into making one change by Kurt Zouma’s inability to face his parent club and able to make another because of Seamus Coleman’s recovery from illness, Yerry Mina was drafted in to partner Michael Keane and the Irishman replaced Jonjoe Kenny at right back.
Richarlison kept his place wide on the right, André Gomes was preferred again to Morgan Schneiderlin and Dominic Calvert-Lewin kept his place in what was the expected Everton starting XI.
Playing like they were the home team, it was all Chelsea in the first 10 minutes, however, with Everton unable to really lay a glove on the visitors in the first period. Hazard jinked his way easily past Keane and forced a good save low at his near post from Pickford and the Belgian went even closer in the seventh minute when played in all too simply again, he found himself behind the defence but watched as his shot came back off the woodwork.
Gonzalo Higuain was then played in behind Mina but he scuffed his shot and it allowed Keane to hack it out of the six-yard box before Jorginho’s one-two exchange with the Argentine in the 20th minute ended with the Brazilian’s low shot being saved by Pickford.
On their fleeting forays forward, Everton had proven singularly unable to make the ball stick in the final third. Calvert-Lewin gave the ball away trying to find Bernard, Coleman passed straight to a yellow shirt instead of a blue jersey and Gueye’s attempt to find Calvert-Lewin also went astray.
A smart interception by Lucas Digne did present Calvert-Lewin with a chance to test Kepa in the Chelsea goal but his rising shot drifted over the crossbar before Gomes managed the only Everton effort on target in the first half but the keeper was equal to it.
Otherwise, Silva’s defence was worryingly open at times and with Everton generally unable to play their way out of the back or through the midfield, the ball kept coming back at them with uneasy frequency.
Chelsea, on the other hand, proved very adept at picking their way past their hosts’ high press and would turn defence into attack with lightning speed with half an hour gone but, thankfully, Pedro sliced his shot across goal and behind for a goal kick.
Meanwhile, Ross Barkley, booed with decreasing intensity as the match wore on before he was substituted in the second half, had sent a tame effort Pickford’s way before he tricked his way to the byline and cut back for a shot but made a mess of it, to the audible delight of the Goodison crowd.
Richarlison, largely anonymous to that point, was then pulled back by Marcos Alonso setting up a Sigurdsson free-kick that Calvert-Lewin couldn’t steer on target while Pedro had the last sight of goal before half time but screwed a decent chance wide after being allowed to drift across the 18-yard line unimpeded.
Whatever Silva said — or threw against the wall — at half-time seemed to have the desired effect because, having made it to half-time at 0-0, Everton emerged for the second half with a completely different posture.
Assertive and imposing from the whistle, they launched the first dangerous attack within seconds as Calvert-Lewin curled a dangerous ball behind the visitors’ defence but it was just beyond the reach of Bernard.
Seconds later, a really nice move ended with Gomes stinging Kepa’s palms with a fierce left-footed drive from the edge of the box. From that corner, Mina’s header was blocked by a defender but from another dead-ball three minutes later, Everton broke the deadlock.
Sigurdsson whipped in the corner, Calvert-Lewin’s header on goal was parried by the goalkeeper but it sat up invitingly for the alert Richarlison to head home from a couple of yards out.
The mood inside Goodison was transformed, with belief now flooding through the stands of the Grand Old Lady but there would be a brief Chelsea response before the Toffees would double their lead.
First, Alonso smashed a first-time shot into the side-netting in the 55th minute and then, after Calvert-Lewin had passed up an inviting Digne cross at one end, Higuain prompted the save of the game from Pickford with a fizzing low snapshot from 25 yards off Ngolo Kanté’s lay-off that the England goalkeeper turned away with a strong left hand.
Richarlison then sliced an ambitious half-volley over the bar before he drew the decisive penalty from Alonso with 18 minutes to go. Collecting the ball from Coleman in the Chelsea box, the Brazilian looked to drive past the Spanish football and went down under the challenge on his foot, prompting referee Anthony Taylor to point to the spot.
Sigurdsson, who has been unconvincing at times from penalties in his time at Everton, despatched his spot kick to a comfortable spot for Kepa who had guess right but the keeper could only block it straight back to the Blues’ midfielder who casually tucked the rebound away.
That effectively broke the resistance of a Chelsea side whose temperament and spirit has been under as much scrutiny as that of Everton lately. Hazard had a shot blocked, Callum Hudson-Odoi would have a powerful shot pushed over by Pickford and substitute Olivier Giroud would see an injury-time header blocked by his team-mate, Cesar Aspilicueta but it was another sub, Theo Walcott, who replaced the industrious Bernard, who would have the best chance late on.
Threaded in by Sigurdsson, the former Arsenal man perhaps under-hit his shot as he tried to guide it under Kepa and the keeper was able to keep it out.
It was just over three years ago that Roberto Martinez, facing similar criticism to Silva for a massively disappointing season, oversaw a potentially transformative victory over Chelsea by the same score line in the FA Cup.
That stirring result proved to be the death throes of a doomed regime as meek defeats to Arsenal and Manchester United were followed by humiliation in the Merseyside derby and a succession of awful performances to see out the campaign.
Silva won't be facing Liverpool again this season but with the Gunners and Red Devils due at Goodison before the current season is out, the Portuguese has a couple of big occasions to further enhance his standing with the Goodison hierarchy ahead of another important summer.
Many of the recurring issues remain — poor distribution in general and a worrying inability to pass and move the ball forward at times; the conundrum of a general a lack of supporting numbers in attack while the team often finds itself dangerously short-handed at the back when facing counter-attacks; wide open gaps in and around the back line; and a failure to perform evenly over 90 minutes.
However, more results like this and Silva may begin to turn the tide of doubt that has risen over his ability to be a long-term success at Goodison, although he will likely need to add a good deal more consistency and dynamism to his team’s game before he can truly restore the fans’ faith in him.
After an utterly abysmal first half were Everton offered absolutely nothing, they swarmed all over Chelsea in a fantastic 5-minute spell to score early after the break, and Richarlison then won a vital penalty, Sigurdsson scoring after Kepa had saved his attempt from the spot.
Coleman replaced Kenny, who was left out of the matchday squad; Zouma was ineligible to play against his parent club so Mina came into the fragile Everton defence. Pickford was not dropped despite his antics at Newcastle.
Ross Barkley starts for Chelsea, one of seven changes Maurizio Sarri makes from the team which beat Dynamo Kiev 5-0 in the Europa League on Thursday.
André Gomes got things underway, and Ross Barkley, appropriately all in yellow, was getting roundly booed by Evertonians no doubt unhappy that one of our own would want away to join the Chavs.
Everton were pressed high and went for the lofted ball down the line after some pass-the-parcel at the back, straight out of play. Chelsea playing confidently at a very low tempo until Coleman intervened and booted upfield. But Chelsea attacked again, and Hazard smacked in a shot at Pickford, the ball flying up off him and headed behind the first corner, defended away.
But Hazard dances through again and smacked the post, then Higuain got in behind but scuffed his shott allowing Keane to clear off the line, Everton all at sixes and sevens, Barkley chipping in a ball Pickford had to punch.
So much for the inspiring pre-match rallying siren. Most of the lads in Blue were yet to turn up!
Gueye twisted his ankle tackling David Luiz and needed treatment. Gomes fouled Pedro, Hazard clipping it deep, Everton clearing and Calvert-Lewin running into Jorginho, no foul. A forward ball to him was easily surrendered and Everton were again forced back to Pickford.
Coleman finally had acres of space but chose to pass straight to a yellow shirt. But the ball was fed to Calvert-Lewin who dug the ball out from his feet but could only shoot well over.
Barkley tried to jink in from the left but his end-product was quite bizarre, driven back toward the far touchline. The ball broke for Gueye but again, hopeless passing turned over precious possession back to Chelsea.
Another session of pass-the-parcel failed to get close to half-way and Barkley saw the chance for a soft shot straight at Pickford. But Everton finally got forward Calvert-Lewin manfully dispossessing Jorginho to force Chelsea back.
Gomes drove a shot from distance at Kepa. But Everton were easily turned, Chelsea swarming at Pickford, who gathered just in time. But with nothing happening, Digne somehow conceded a corner taken by Hazard, headed away by Mina.
30 minutes of really crap football, especially from Everton, looked only to continue as Chelsea attacked brightly but for Pedro to shank his shot wide, Pickford watching it thankfully.
Chelsea attacked again, without really structuring a clearcut chance, but it seemed only a matter of time with Everton offering the sum total of nothing to this game. Barkley clipped the ball in to Higuain who fired over.
Richarlison almost got free, Alonso clipping his ankles and seeing yellow. A chance for Sigurdsson to swing the ball in, Calvert-Lewin heading over with his trademark absence of any neck-muscle work, just letting it bounce off his forehead and go behind.
Coleman was embarrassed by the high-press conceding a thrown at the corner flag, Everton simply unable to break out, Richarlison tempted into a rash tackle on Hazard almost from behind. Barkley smacked the free-kick into the wall. In the second phase, Pedro does very well to shimmy across the 18-yard line and fire inches wide of both Pickford's despairing dive and the white of the post.
A long ball from a free-kick after a Gueye foul was hammered home by Pedro but he was just a fraction offside.
The lesser-spotted Sigurdsson made a rare appearance. firing a nice forward ball that went straight through Coleman to a yellow shirt, summing up the desperate state of Everton's torpid play. Bernard did get forward but his cross was carefully designed to split the pair of Everton players forward in the Chelsea area. Incredibly, Everton still in the game at half-time: 0-0.
A much better start to the second half, Sigurdsson and Richarlison finally combining but no belief at all from Barnard who should have hurled himself to connect with the ball
Another phase and Gomes lashed in a fine strike that forced a good save from Kepa. From the corner, Mina's powerful header hit Gomes and was cleared. But Coleman won another corner, the first header, a great one form Calvert-Lewin, parried down but Richarlison followed up to head in, a goal for Everton — incredible turnaround!
Everton kept pressing, the crowd now fully awakened behind them. But Pedro was better than Digne as the game got a great end-to-end feel to it. Chelsea tried to slow it down but some nice work from Gomes in the middle kept Everton in control.
A poor clearance by Kepa came to Gueye but he gave the ball up too easily for Barkley. Chelsea pressure was initially repelled. But the ball then fell to Alnos who drilled his shot into the side-netting.
A great move down the left but Calvert-Lewin didn't expect the ball to beat his marker and was unprepared to lash the ball home, the chance evaporating instantly. Gomes was harshly carded for a tiny clip on Pedro's heel. Higuain lashed a vicious shot off Mia that Pickford did very well to save low by the post.
Rudiger yellow-carded, also harshly, as Bernard ran into his elbow! Taylor perhaps evening things up. Barkley had a shot deflected away, and was roundly booed when substituted. At the other end, Richarlison tried a very ambitious first-time volley, that flew away from goal.
Schneiderlin replaced Gomes, who was struggling. Richarlison went on a run but his final ball was poor. Sigurdsson got the ball and powered forward, but it didn't break well for Calvert-Lewin. But from the 2nd phase, Coleman powered in and was blocked, but Richarlison was caught with a subtle ankle-tap by Alonso... penalty! Sigurdsson's first attempt saved, but he followed up to complete the job. And an astounding 2-0 lead for Everton!
Coleman broke well down the right but Alonso gave Richarlison a real shove to stop him as Coleman was pushed off the ball. But no second yellow for the Chelsea player.
Hazard lashed goalward, Keane in the way, with Pickford leaping. Walcott came on and was given a golden chance to score by Sigurdsson after excellent play by Calvert-Lewin to create space for the Iceman.
At the other end, a fine shot by Hudson-Odoi was palmed over by Pickford, keen to keep a clean sheet with less than 10 minutes left. Chelsea were piling on the pressure, Davies coming on for Sigurdsson. Everton with only one task now: to see the game out.
Chelsea kept piling it on, and won a late corner, Giroud's header blocked on the line. In the follow-up Hazard was kicked behind by Alonso, and Pickford's charmed goal somehow survived unbreached as the 5 minutes of added time played out to a fine win in the end.
Scorers: Richarlison (49'), Sigurdsson (72')
Everton: Pickford, Coleman, Keane, Mina, Digne, Gueye, Gomes [Y:59'] (68' Schneiderlin), Richarlison, Sigurdsson (86' Davies), Bernard (78' Walcott), Calvert-Lewin.
Subs not Used: Stekelenburg, Baines, Tosun, Lookman.
Chelsea: Kepa; Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Rüdiger [Y:60'], Alonso [Y:36']; Jorginho (74' Hudson-Odoi), Kanté, Barkley (65' Loftus-Cheek); Pedro, Higuaín (66' Giroud), Hazard.
Subs not Used: Caballero, Christensen, Kovacic, Willian.
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Sterling second half effort gets Goodison rocking
With Gaz unobtainable, out late the previous night celebrating Wales Grand Slam success, Dan drove and we arrived in the pub in plenty of time. We walked in to be confronted by a 6'-3" bar man dressed in as a leprechaun - complete with tights, face paint, clip-on beard, the lot. My poker stare is pitiful at the best of times but I just couldn’t keep a straight face whatsoever and was grateful that Ste got the first round in while I could go and sit down giggling to myself. A leprechaun, because it was Saint Patrick’s Day of course.
Once I’d gotten over that comedy, we could sit down and turn our attentions to the Fulham vs Liverpool match, and while the game stayed at 0-1 you felt Fulham might maybe grab something and they looked to be doing that until Liverpool got a rather soft penalty to get them the points.
We gathered the team news and the only changes to the team which dipped at Newcastle United were defensive - Seamus Coleman and Yerry Mina returning to the team at the expense of Jonjo Kenny and the ineligible Kurt Zouma. For the visitors, Ross Barkley made his return to Goodison Park, and got booed and jeered with every touch, and with players such as Eden Hazard, Gonzola Higuain, Pedro and N’Golo Kante, you know it’s never going to be a walk in the park.
Arriving in the Gwladys Street we were met with a fabulous banner depicting some of our heroes of the past, and there was quite a retro feel about some of the other signage. We were also provided with a blue or white sheet to hold aloft as the teams came out to Z-Cars (preceded by a siren). This was all set up and provided by a supporters group in the Gwladys Street and hats off to them, they did a great job of getting things going.
The task then of course was with the players to rise to this and keep the crowd entertained, but come half time you were relieved that Everton were still in the game. A lot of the guys around us were very doom and gloom at half time. Though I was a bit more positive, it was undeniable we’d been on the end of quite a hiding in the first half. Jordan Pickford had to be at his best to thwart Eden Hazard, and the Belgian was also thwarted by the woodwork.
Pedro had the ball in the net with a smart finish but it was flagged for offside. There were other opportunities for Chelsea in the first half but thankfully Everton stood firm and found a way to stay in the game. At the other end Dominic Calvert-Lewin hit wide with a very good left footed effort and also headed over when well-placed from a Gylfi Sigurdsson free kick. Come the break Everton were not exactly on the ropes but second best by a long way against a good Chelsea side.
Lord knows what Marco Silva said at the break but it sure worked as Everton came out of the traps like they meant business in the second half. Bernard teed up Andre Gomes at the edge of the penalty area and his effort was well saved by Kepa Arrizabalaga. This palpable improvement in effort and end product didn’t go unnoticed by the crowd and the atmosphere went up a good few notches as Everton seized the advantage. Dominic Cavlert-Lewin’s header from a corner kick was saved by Arrizabalaga, and Richarlison reacted pounced to head into the net and put Everton ahead.
Goodison Park was really rocking by this point and the players continued to up their game. Following a drab first-half effort, they were superb after the break, it’s really hard to fault anyone out there on that second-half display. Jordan Pickford saved what he had to – one save from a Pedro drive was particularly excellent, the defence were resilient the midfield and attack worked hard and pressed well and our attackers did so with flair.
The game was effectively sealed when Richarlison won a penalty, I haven’t seen it again yet so I’ve no idea if it should have been given or not. Gylfi Sigurdsson stepped up and before taking made a very deliberate look at his bottom left corner to try and send the keeper the other way. Arrizabalaga wasn’t fooled and guessed right. Fortunately, he could only spill it back to Gylfi who calmly stroked home to make it 2-0. A mixture of delight and relief palpable amongst players and supporters alike. I think they need to reassess who’s on penalties, however. You’re never really confident that Gylfi is going to score.
With still over 20 minutes to go we really had to make sure we didn’t slip up from here but credit to the boys. They did a marvellous job of seeing the game out and maintaining the clean sheet.
It’s nice to go into the international break on the back of a win and hopefully we can continue with our second half showing in the capital at West Ham United in a fortnight.
It’s also nice to have Goodison Park rocking again, the atmosphere at our last three home games has been terrific. With Arsenal and Manchester United both still to visit Goodison Park let’s hope the atmosphere remains vibrant as we celebrate more good results as our season draws to a close.
Pickford:Was as good today as he was bad last weekend. Spot on in every department. 8
Digne: Got caught out on a couple of occasions but otherwise did okay. 6
Mina: Did well. Won a lot of aerial duals and got in the way of plenty. Gives Marco Silva a welcome selection headache in central defence. 7
Keane: Swept up magnificently well and was one of few who performed admirably in both halves of the game. A terrific effort. 8
Coleman: A few loose moments in the first half aside, Seamus did just fine. 6
Gueye: You feared the worst as he sprawled around on the floor in the first half but thankfully he was able to get up and carry on. If, as expected, he leaves us this Summer he will take some replacing. 8
Gomes: Grew into the game and kept a calm head for 70 minutes before he was substituted. 7
Sigurdsson: Anonymous in the first half but much improved after the break. He’ll be relieved he got a second bite at the cherry with the penalty. 7
Bernard: An exquisite display and he now seems fully adapted and settled into the English game. I expect a great season from him next term. My man of the match. 8
Richarlison: “His best performance for us yet” remarked Dan after the game and it’s hard to disagree. Got on the scoresheet and, perhaps stung by some of his managers criticism in the week, went the full mile and worked tirelessly until the end. A great effort from Richarlison and much, much more like it from him. 8
Calvert-Lewin: On about 65 minutes I said to Ste that it would be a good idea to bring Dominic off as I thought he looked knackered. Good on him then for galvanising himself and putting in some shift in the final third of the game. Talk about defending from the front. That’s how it’s done. A fabulous effort from Dominic. Well done. 8
Schneiderlin (for Gomes): Saw precious little of the ball but filled a lot of holes. 6
Walcott (for Bernard): A good stint from Theo. Hard working and disciplined. 6
Davies (for Sigurdsson): An impressive little cameo from Tom. 7
Everton begin a four-match stretch of games against London opposition this weekend when sixth-placed Chelsea come to Goodison Park.
The Blues face West Ham, Arsenal and Fulham between now and mid-April but are preparing to face Marizio Sarri's side this weekend in a fixture that is, in itself, the first of three consecutive home matches against top-six opposition.
The game comes on the heels of Everton's dispiriting 3-2 defeat at Newcastle that swept away the nascent optimism and momentum that the team had been developing on the back of the win at Cardiff and the derby draw against Liverpool.
Silva admitted in an interview with Sky Sports that consistency, something Everton have lacked this term, is a key to success and that as a collective, the Blues “have to sort it out” but he cited the upheaval caused by the revolving door at Goodison over the past few years as an important factor in the club's travails.
"It's a new coach, new players and new pressure," he said. "Everton signed 12 or 13 players last season. This season we signed seven more. Twenty new players.
“Some of the players signed last season aren't here now. Twenty months and four coaches also. It's so many changes for one football club."
In Evertonians' dissection of the calamity that unfolded at St James's Park, there is a feeling among many that the team's problems run deeper than the chopping and changing of personnel that has been a feature since David Moyes's departure in 2013.
One theme has been a lack of confidence and belief and Silva believes that the “taste” of beating one of the “big six”, something Everton haven't done in over two years, will help in that regard. The decade prior to Ronald Koeman's hire was peppered with some stirring home victories over Chelsea but the last one was three seasons ago so now would be an ideal time to score another win over the West Londoners.
Silva will be forced into at least one change as Kurt Zouma is ineligible to face his parent club and that will almost certainly see Yerry Mina make his first start since the FA Cup defeat to Millwall in January because Phil Jagielka is again doubtful through injury.
Seamus Coleman has recovered from the unspecified illness that necessitated this withdrawal from the squad just before the Newcastle game and he is likely to play this time in place of Jonjoe Kenny.
Rounding out the rest of the side is a little harder to call and depends on what Silva made of the second-half collapse against the Magpies last Saturday. Richarlison struggled to make a consistent impact during the first 75 minutes of the game and was the one sacrificed when the manager wanted to bring on a third centre-half in the form of Mina but he did score his 11th of the season and, as such, was more productive than Theo Walcott has been.
In central midfield, the Blues kept two clean sheets with Morgan Schneiderlin alongside Idrissa Gueye but conceded three on André Gomes's return, a statistic that might be harsh on the Portuguese but may play on Silva's mind as he mulls over his starting XI.
Further forward, Bernard's improving consistency should earn him another start and Dominic Calvert-Lewin keeps chipping in with timely goals so is likely to also keep his spot leading the line.
For their part, Chelsea could stick with Europa League hat-trick hero Olivier Giroud despite Gonzalo Higuain's availability while Eden Hazard, who was rested for their trip to Ukraine, is set to return to their starting line-up.
With seventh spot as many points away and Everton running out of matches to bridge the increasing gap, there is less to play for over the remaining games and more for Silva and his charges to prove ahead of what will be an important summer for the club.
The Portuguese needs to demonstrate to supporters and his superiors that he has what it takes to craft a winning team from the squad at his disposal and is worthy of being the man to blend in the new talent that it is hoped will be signed during the close season.
A win or two over the four top-six teams they still have to face between now and mid-May would be a start but it's going to require a fortitude of spirit and penetration in attack that has been sorely lacking against the better teams this season.
Kick-off: 4:30pm, Sunday 17 March 2019
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Last Time: Everton 0 - 0 Chelsea
Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Coleman, Keane, Mina, Digne, Gueye, Gomes, Sigurdsson, Bernard, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin