It wasn’t a drab 0-0 by any means, though, with Chelsea having shots cleared off the line as well as taking the paint off the woodwork.
Everton, for the second time this month against a team from last season’s top four, failed to threaten going forward. While Sam Allardyce will be pleased with a point and it’s progress in the short-term, long-term it will be a concern. After all, goals win you games.
The Toffees are now undefeated since the appointment of the former Crystal Palace manager and have kept four clean sheets in the six matches. The relegation battle they threatened to be part of is a distant memory with the team now sat comfortably in ninth.
Chelsea are now undefeated in four games in all competitions and are guaranteed third position over Christmas.
We’ve analysed the game and here are five things we learned.
Chelsea need attacking reinforcements
Antonio Conte couldn’t call upon the services of Álvaro Morata today with the Spaniard ruled out because of suspension. Eden Hazard got the nod to lead the line and while the Belgian continues to have an impressive season, you can’t help but feel the dynamic shifts when he’s playing in place of the former Real Madrid man and not beside him.
It’s to be expected with the two players not having similar profiles. But should Chelsea, the champions of England, really be so reliant on one player? They need to bring in an understudy to Morata so whenever he’s suspended, injured or simply rested, the team doesn’t have to change the way it plays.
Conte tried to address it during the summer when he targeted Fernando Llorente but the ex-Juventus forward moved to Tottenham instead. There was no alternative to the 32-year-old and Chelsea went into the season with effectively one striker, with Diego Costa exiled and Michy Batshuayi not existing in the eyes of Conte.
And so do Everton
The Toffees have scored 24 goals in 19 Premier League matches this season with just eight goals coming from the strikers. Wayne Rooney has played there at times but he’s played more frequently in midfield.
The Toffees spent a lot of money in the summer but failed to replace Romelu Lukaku‘s goals. As basic as this sounds, goals really do make the world go round in the Premier League and without them it’s hard to mount a top-half challenge.
The majority of Allardyce’s teams have had a target man leading the line, Everton are currently relying on 20-year-old Dominic Calvert-Lewin. A move for Christian Benteke, someone Allardyce worked with at Crystal Palace, makes a lot of sense.
But they could go shopping at today’s opponents. Batshuayi needs a new club if he’s to make Belgium’s 2018 World Cup squad and he’s likely to get minutes at Goodison Park. Is he the right sort of striker for the Everton manager though? And can the former England boss be picky when good strikers are so scarce these days?
The Toffees will come unstuck unless they bring players during January
Everton were on the ropes against Chelsea. They controlled the space for periods but they needed Jordan Pickford in inspired form, while Phil Jagielka hooked the ball off the line twice and Ashley Williams rattled his own crossbar.
The Toffees may have kept four clean sheets in the six games since Allardyce was appointed but they have to make long-term plans. Jagielka is 35, Williams is 33 and error-prone while Mason Holgate is a right-back playing at centre-back.
If they want to be a defensively solid side then they need reliable defenders at the heart of their team. After watching today’s performance it’s hard to see how this system is sustainable with the current personnel. Suggestions James Tomkins is an Everton transfer target make a lot of sense.
Moses is key to the Chelsea system
Victor Moses is one of those players who is underrated, under appreciated and generally overlooked. When he’s in the Chelsea starting XI they look a lot more dangerous down the right flank. Perhaps it’s because he was originally a winger, whatever the reason for it though, he’s as key to Conte as N’Golo Kanté and Hazard.
You can see exactly why in the graphic above. A lot of Moses’ touches came in the Everton penalty area which is exactly what you want from an attacking wing-back. He’s incisive, direct and progressive. It’s difficult to break teams down in the Premier League and you need players like Moses stretching the play and causing them issues.
Only Antonio Rüdiger, Marcos Alonso and Kanté finished the match with more passes (68) than the right wing-back and he came off with ten minutes still to play. He also played two key passes and made three interceptions.
Conte plays it safe
Chelsea are 14 points behind leaders Manchester City but you wouldn’t know looking at the changes he made today. With ten minutes left to play he opted to replace Moses and instead of bringing on Callum Hudson-Odoi, the highly-rated 17-year-old who impressed for England during the summer, Conte brought on Davide Zappacosta.
Bringing on the striker would’ve meant the system needed changing and Conte isn’t as flexible when it comes to in-game management as others. But when you’re playing catch up in a title race you need to take risks.
The champions had Everton pinned in their own half, did they really need five defenders and two sitting midfielders?