A ‘good point’ is a weird term – It’s like being turned down for a date but with constructive criticism, not an achievement but not really a failure either; “you’ve done alright so far, next time getting a shower and not muttering swear words will get you further” – but I can’t really think of a better way to describe this game. The trip to Stamford Bridge is typically a bothersome one, not just because of the long trip or the inherent racism, so to get a draw and not fold faster than Superman on laundry day in front of title contenders is certainly progress.
The second away game in our trilogy of terror was arguably the most difficult – Man United are having a bad season by their standards, and it’s not difficult to motivate for games against the shite. Sarri, the closest connection we have to pre-Premier League times and its chain smoking managers, has got his team back near the top. He even managed to get Ross Barkley into the England squad, and he’s just several hundred rats underneath some skin. Marco’s already had two “Top 6” games this season, both defeats but both with signs of improvement over the annus horribilis, so the next challenge would be to start getting points in these fixtures regardless of referee shithousery which seems to be a given.
Everton made the one mandatory change – Yerry Mina covering Zouma’s inability to play his parent club. Being Blues, we all braced ourselves for the inevitable disaster that would follow, so obviously he ended up getting Man of the Match. Richarlison was a doubt with injury but managed to make the squad – despite our glowing praise last week, someone pointed out it shows his confidence in DCL and Tosun that he’s starting a half-injured winger ahead of them. Hazard was also a concern before the game, but he turned out to be alright, hooray. Barkley, who’s passed the Capybara as the world’s largest rodent, sat on the bench.
Everton actually started the better of the two, a few decent crosses and set pieces going in but nothing to show for it. Once again, that was a familiar story for the game, we’re starting to get somewhat competent at defending set pieces, just not at scoring them. Regardless, Everton did really well in the first half, giving Chelsea little chance to break through by keeping organised in defence and midfield. Thankfully, Kevin Friend was on hand to help where he could with some awful refereeing decisions that would make Charlie Austin spontaneously combust, including but not limited to:
– Yellow card for Mina winning the ball and not making his leg disappear immediately after
– Giving Jorginho a yellow for what is more often than not a red for jumping on Sigurdsson’s ankle, injuring him in the process
– Failing to notice Fabregas pick up the foam off the ground and moving it forward
– Carding Bernard for ‘headbutting’ Rudiger despite being about as tall as his chest, then booking Rudiger for the dive anyway
– Morata falling to the floor more times than a 5 year old with a tantrum, and making twice the noise
I can talk about how Chelsea is a shithouse club with utter pricks for players, but if the referee lets them get away with it then what’s stopping them? If your answer is ‘fair play’ or ‘honestly’ get into the Mersey. Much like Donald Trump, I honestly can’t tell if the referees are on the take or are just that inept, and both reasons are worrying.
The best chance they mustered was, unsurprisingly, a free kick. Alonso managed to find some free space to volley towards Pickford, who saved it because he’s Jordan Pickford, mate. A lot of their efforts were neutralised thanks to the game plan being executed so well – notable mentions for Digne, Gueye and the aforementioned Mina, who were all fantastic. Also Gomes because he’s still brilliant and handsome; I seen a big picture of him in the club shop on Saturday which gave me palpitations. The only way Chelsea could get into the game was with dirty tactics, which was a compliment to us but made me stick a fiver on an Everton player getting sent off in the 2nd half.
Second half and Chelsea tried out their party trick of pressing L1+Triangle straight from the kick-off, giving Pickford a big save to make which he did because he’s Jordan effing Pickford. Lot long after that, Sigurdsson gave it a try and pinged an absolute peach right in front of Walcott, who fluffed his lines to have a shot on target. Despite Everton’s great organisation further back, the last pass was usually lacking so gilt-edged chances like that were annoying. Bernard had his own chance later on but couldn’t find the ball underneath him and knocked it out for the goal kick, he was hooked for Lookman not long after who looked quite decent with a bit more time on the pitch than his last few appearances.
Barkley, who helped to spread the bubonic plague in 1347, had to warm up in front of the Everton fans, who were more than happy to give him an audience. Apparently some were applauding him so it was nice to see his family made it for the game. Sarri swapped things around in the second half and they had a much better time of it from when they actually started playing football about the 60th minute. Hazard started getting into the game more and chances started coming, peaking with hitting the post with a decent shot. Silva clocked onto this and brought on Jagielka to make it a back three, this seemed to do the trick and the only big chance was Morata’s offside goal who still moaned despite the Everton line being a mile behind them. I remember back in the early 2000s when I used to wear half a tub of the blue Asda Smart Price hair gel before heading to Mr. Smiths, I don’t think Alvaro Morata’s got past that phase yet.
Ross Barkley came on at 81 minutes. Did you know some rats can be trained to sniff out landmines? Barkley wasn’t as useful. It could be just a bad day for him, it could be he shit out after the grief he got warming up, it could be that his massive head from all the premature praise threw him off balance, just like at Everton. Never mind, our midfield is better for having lost him. Full time came and we applauded the ‘good point’.
It’s boss to see the continuing improvement each week and cause a continuous existential crisis for Evertonians. This was a game we were supposed to wet ourselves in front of Hazard and lose 5-0; where we drop our heads because of some shitty refereeing not going our way; where Yerry Mina was supposed to be terrible and have the arse ripped out of him. Maybe this isn’t what we’re supposed to be anymore. There’s still a lot to do yet,but this was a really well organised and disciplined performance and gives me hope for our next few games. I’ll soon panic that away though, don’t worry.
Look In for Lookman – I’m really hoping Ademola Lookman gets to start against Cardiff, but I have a feeling it depends on how the international break goes for him. Walcott and Bernard have been shown to be the weak links in the last few games, both attack and defence-wise, but they don’t have commitments over the next week. On a similar note, Yerry nailed his chance at CB with his MotM award, again though that might come down to how long he’s away for with Colombia.
Internationals – It’s a testament to how well the players have done recently with Digne, Keane and Gomes being called up to their respective national teams. Just don’t do an Ireland on us or we’re locking everyone up at Finch Farm next international break.
Barkley – Rat.