Resilient Blues Melt Toffees
Chelsea tooks another important step towards regaining the Premier League title with a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Everton at Goodison Park. Pedro opened up the scoring after over an hour of futility with a brilliant individual effort from distance. Gary Cahill doubled the advantage from a botched free kick save by Maarten Stekelenburg. Willian would seal the victory with a well-taken goal from a short distance.
Antonio Conte reverts to his preferred eleven after having rotated for the past few fixtures. Thibaut Courtois remains the starting goalkeeper for the squad with the trio of Gary Cahill, David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta setting up a wall in front of him. N’Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic patrol the central midfield area with Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses providing cover down the flanks. Eden Hazard, Diego Costa and Pedro will providing the attacking thrust in this 3-4-3 formation.
The Toffees looked to shock the league leaders with an early goal. Phil Jagielka manages to diffuse Chelsea’s early foray into the Everton half and turns defense into offense as he spread the ball towards Ross Barkley. The ball eventually finds Dominic Calvert-Lewis, whose run got him past Cesar Azpilicueta and Victor Moses. He fires as Thibaut Courtois attempts to close in on forward but he only manages to rattle the post. The ball rebounds into the penalty area where former Chelsea stiker Romelu Lukaku was lurking but the Belgian forward slips before getting a solid connection on the ball and completely fumbles as Gary Cahill puts a stop to the proceedings.
But the Blues refused to be fazed by this home opposition. Cahill was a sturdy wall that prevented what could have been a shock early goal and now he cuts through the Everton defense like butter was he saunters down the middle. He fires from distance and forces Maarten Stekelenburg into an awkward save. The Dutch goalkeeper fails to keep hold of the ball, however, Ashley Williams was there to clear the danger.
Chelsea’s two in form forwards combine to send shivers down Everton’s spine. Diego Costa is on a pacy run down the right hand side after leaving Jagielka for dead. He spots Eden Hazard and releases the Belgian in the penalty area. This forces Stekelenburg off his line but Hazard easily rounds the Dutch keeper and has an open goal at his sights. Unfortunately for Conte, his shooting couldn’t match his vision and the ball ended up rippling the side netting.
Nemanja Matic looks to channel his shooting ability from a week ago. Without needing as much as a setup from his team mates, the hulking Serbian makes his run from the middle, going slightly wide before cutting inside, dragging a host of defenders to him before unleashing a thunderbolt from distance. But the shot lacked the guile of his previous successful efforts and this one went straight to Stekelenburg’s arms.
Costa and Jagielka are involved in another wrestling match for the ball. Once again, the Spaniard breaks free of his grasp and gets to a long delivery from David Luiz. Somehow with the goal only yards away, the deadly striker could only guide the ball to the heavens and squanders what could have been one of the best goal-scoring opportunities in the match.
Chelsea play a clever corner which almost earned them some dividends. Marcos Alonso takes an unconventional approach to his corner and sends it straight to Matic who was lurking in the penalty area. The Serbian cuts it back to Victor Moses who threads in an effort bound for the far post. But the wingback lacked the accuracy as he drags it wide.
Jagielka has been pretty much been hung out to dry for most of the day though without much consequence but his run of luck is about to fade. Pedro receives the ball with some distance from goal with Jagielka nearby. The former Barcelona forward shows some trickery bamboozling the English defender before dragging the ball to his left and unleashing a thunderbolt from beyond towards the top left corner for a late opener.
Gary Cahill is somehow an in-form goal scorer. With Idrissa Gueye gifting the Blues an opportunity at goal with a clumsy challenge, Hazard took charge of the chance. The wall didn’t seem to put up much of an impediment as the Belgian curls his attempt through everyone forcing Stekelenburg to palm it away but it only ends up in Cahill’s path who gratefully taps it in to double the advantage.
The substitutes add further flourish to the proceedings. Costa after receiving the ball at the edge of the penalty area forwards it over to substitute Cesc Fabregas in the penalty area. The Spanish maestro runs towards the byline before cutting it back for the trailing fellow substitute Willian who couldn’t miss from such a short distance from goal.
With this victory, Chelsea again establishes a 7 point lead over Tottenham who are facing a tough fixture themselves against their North London rivals, Arsenal. Another 3 victories would absolutely results in crowning the Blues as champions even if the Spurs end up winning all their remaining fixtures. Chelsea will host relegation-threatened Middlesbrough in 9 days.