Tiemoue Bakayoko’s improvement
The Frenchman is getting there.
After struggling for form since his arrival from Monaco in the summer, the midfielder looks like he’s finally starting to settle in the Chelsea team. With Cesc Fabregas and Danny Drinkwater playing against Bournemouth in midweek, Conte recalled Bakayoko for the game at Goodison Park. He started slowly but he soon grew into the game.
While there were a few sloppy passes here and there, he broke up play a number of times and used his strength to move through the middle of the park. The Frenchman teed up Pedro in the first half with a fine ball, and if it wasn’t for Pickford the Blues would have taken the lead.It always takes players coming from a foreign league time to settle in and Bakayoko just needs regular time on the pitch.
He will certainly get that over the next few weeks.
The curse of the champions
The curse continues at Goodison Park for another year. Everton have a great record against the reigning Premier League champions on Merseyside and Chelsea know all about it.
After losing to the Toffees 1-0 in the 2010/11 season and 3-1 two years ago, it was even more frustration for Chelsea. However, they had plenty of chances to win the game. Jordan Pickford was in sublime form for Everton as he denied the visitors numerous times. Pedro was denied by the shot-stopper in both halves, while Ashley Williams headed against his own crossbar late on.
While chances were few and far between for Sam Allardyce’s team, they defended excellently over the course of the 90 minutes. Goodison is always a hard place to go to, but it’s even harder when you’re playing against a team so well drilled by the ex-England boss.
Gary Cahill’s absence
The absence of Gary Cahill from the starting XI was the main talking point when the teams were announced ahead of the game. While Alvaro Morata was suspended for the game, many assumed Eden Hazard would lead the line with Michy Batshuayi struggling in midweek. Chelsea were kept quiet at the back throughout the match, although a rare slip from Andreas Christensen presented Dominic Calvert-Lewin with an opportunity at the end of the first half.
While it is not known if Cahill was dropped or rested, he wasn’t missed at the back by the Blues. Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger and Christensen barely had anything to do as all the attacking came from Conte’s team. Given the busy festive period coming up for all teams, we could well see Cahill back in the team against Brighton on Boxing Day.
The Blues would have headed back down to the capital if it had not been for the heroics of Pickford. The England international was in superb form on Merseyside as he produced save after save to deny the champions. His first-half save from Pedro was stunning, while he also made a number of vital blocks throughout the second half.
Conte lamented the missed chances after the game when speaking to the press, although he hailed the team’s play and character against a stubborn Everton side.The Blues would have certainly taken all three points on another day.It was just one of those games for Conte and his team.
Having Morata available would have helped, yet Chelsea had enough chances to put the game out of sight by the hour mark.However, they could have quite easily have headed home with no points had Michael Keane directed his free header on target in stoppage time.
With games coming up against Brighton & Hove Albion and Stoke City over the festive break, the Blues will have plenty of chances.
It’s something they need to improve on because chances will be few and far between when they play the likes of Manchester City and Manchester United in the league, as well as Barcelona in the Champions League.