A frustrating afternoon at Goodison Park saw Chelsea suffer defeat to Everton in a game of few chances, but two potentially significant injuries.

We have been involved in some high-scoring and dramatic thrillers over the last month. It is safe to say this was not one of them.

The Everton supporters may have gone home happy after getting the three points, but in truth there was little excitement on show for either set of fans at Goodison Park in a match which spent most of its 90 minutes locked in a stalemate. The closest anyone came to finding a goal in a quiet first half was when Jordan Pickford turned Cole Palmer’s long-range effort away.

However, when the first clear chance did arrive, it did so for the home side. Robert Sanchez was unlucky after doing well to keep out Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s initial shot one-on-one, but he couldn’t recover in time to prevent Abdoulaye Doucoure scoring from the rebound.

There was further damage as both Sanchez and Reece James were forced off with injuries, before Everton got their second from a corner in added time.

Subdued start

It was a quiet start at Goodison Park, with a couple of probing runs from Armando Broja and Doucoure at either end the extent of the action. Enzo Fernandez did forced a low save by Pickford from just outside the box, but it wouldn’t have counted as Mykhailo Mudryk had been caught offside in the build-up.

Sanchez was called into action for the first time 10 minutes in, when a set-piece from the Everton right threatened to sneak in at the back post, but the Spaniard was able to tip it away without too much difficulty.

The Chelsea front three were clearly prepared to take the game by the scruff of the neck, seizing on any opportunity to run at the opposition defence, and Palmer had the keeper at full stretch to keep out a powerful long-range effort.

Stubborn stalemate

The game briefly threatened to come to life. First there was a penalty appeal for Palmer, but the referee felt he went to ground too easily and booked the Blues forward, despite the fact he got straight back to his feet and tried to carry on. Next it was Everton’s chance to try and break the stalemate, but Jack Harrison’s volley from outside the box drifted wide.

There was a set-back for Chelsea just before the half-hour mark, as Reece James, on his return to the starting line-up, had to be replaced. That saw Levi Colwill introduced on the left of our defence, with Marc Cucurella switching flanks to the right.

The chances stubbornly refused to arrive, but at least the home side were having the same difficulty. The best either team managed in the remainder of the first half came when Mudryk – who along with Enzo had seemed the most likely to make something happen – found Broja with a low cross, but the striker couldn’t keep his first-time effort down under pressure from a tight angle.

Blues go behind

We definitely made a more energetic start to the second half and were on the front foot early on. However, we still weren’t finding space in the box and now Everton were starting to use the counter-attack to their advantage.

First Sanchez did well to get down low to his right and turn a Dwight McNeil drive around the post, but the warning wasn’t heeded. Again, Sanchez initially impressed to deny Dominic Calvert-Lewin from close range when he was played in by McNeil, but our goalkeeper was powerless to prevent Doucoure slotting in the rebound.

We tried to retaliate immediately, but Palmer’s free-kick from just outside the box, cleverly hit under the jumping wall with power, was too close to Pickford to trouble the keeper. Pochettino also responded, with an attacking double substitution, as Raheem Sterling and Nicolas Jackson replaced Enzo and Broja, Palmer moving to a No10 role as we switched to a 4-2-3-1.

It couldn't quite spark things into life enough for us to find a route to goal, though. There were moments where we weren't too far away, prime among them a couple of scrambles in the box. Unfortunately, Jackson couldn't react quick enough when the ball ricocheted in his direction and the opportunity passed.

Chelsea's day went from bad to worse, when Sanchez joined James in being forced off with an injury, although his replacement Djordje Petrovic was applauded onto the pitch by the Blues supporters as he made his debut. It wasn't to be a happy occasion for the Serbian keeper, though, as he had to pick the ball out of the net when he punched a corner clear from under his bar, only to see Lewis Dobbin volley it low into the goal.

What comes next

We are back at Stamford Bridge for our next Premier League match, when we host Sheffield United on Saturday 16 December. Kick-off for that game will be 3pm.

The teams

Chelsea (4-3-3): Sanchez (Petrovic 84); James (c) (Colwill 27), Disasi, Badiashile, Cucurella (Maatsen 84); Gallagher, Caicedo, Enzo (Sterling 66); Palmer, Broja (Jackson 66), Mudryk
Unused subs: Gilchrist, Thiago Silva, Matos, Castledine
Booked: Palmer 20, Mudryk 73

Everton (4-4-1-1): Pickford; Young (Patterson 41), Tarkowski (c), Branthwaite, Mykolenko; Harrison (Dobbin 86), Gueye (Onana h-t), Garner, McNeil; Doucoure; Calvert-Lewin (Beto 66)
Unused subs: Virginia, Godfrey, Hunt, Danjuma, Chermiti
Booked: Gueye 16, Branthwaite 59
Scorer: Doucoure 54, Dobbin 90+2

Referee: Michael Oliver

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