Chelsea’s faint European hopes were dealt another blow as they gave up the lead twice to draw 2-2 with Everton at Stamford Bridge.
In good form and up against a team fighting against relegation, Chelsea will have been confident of a fourth consecutive victory across all competitions going into their game against Everton. Add in the fact that they hadn’t lost in the Premier League at home vs the Toffees since 1994 and Chelsea fans may have already been celebrating.
It was a tough first half for the Blues as they showed bright moments but didn’t have the intensity or finishing quality to actually breach the Everton net. Both Enzo Fernandez and Joao Felix had magical touches, but there was something missing.
But once again Chelsea struggled after taking the lead as they looked to sit back. Great teams in the past, and great Chelsea teams, have managed to hold onto leads with good defending but this current Blues contingent just don’t look capable.
And Potter’s substitutions are playing a role. Just seven minutes after Conor Gallagher had come on for Christian Pulisic, a move to add some control and also give the American a rest in his slow return from injury, Everton levelled through Abdoulaye Doucoure.
Chelsea once again took the lead through Kai Havertz’s cool penalty, but they then ceded control and invited the pressure. Another midfield change came as Ruben Loftus-Cheek replaced Mateo Kovacic, but the real problems came with five minutes left. Potter brought off Felix and Wesley Fofana — the latter having been excellent defensively — and replaced them with Carney Chukwuemeka and Trevoh Chalobah.
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Packing the midfield and adding fresh legs to the defence did not have the desired impact and in fact meant that after Ellis Simms had equalised with minutes left, Chelsea didn’t have the attacking talent to score again. Simms’ goal was the sixth Chelsea have conceded in the final 15 minutes of a game under Potter, and the Blues boss was disappointed with the easy goals his side conceded.
“I thought the performance overall was positive, we did a lot of things really well. Scored a couple of goals but ultimately didn’t defend well enough in an couple of actions which has cost us and we’re disappointed to drop points,” he told Sky Sports.
“I think has a team we could have attacked better in the first place, it’s what we spoke about before the game. How to attack well so that you don’t expose yourself to transition and we did that. It looked too easy throughout the team, so that was disappointing from our perspective for the second goal, and the first as well.
“Credit to Everton, they do that well, but we needed to do better there.”
Looking back on the substitutions made, former Chelsea Women star Karen Carney believes Potter is now using this time as a pre-season for the new campaign.
“I think it’s for next season. Try and build momentum, try and get the squad together, try and find and embed your eight or nine players that you have done today, but your surge is for next season, not this season,” she told Sky Sports.
“Build momentum and try and get a run in the Champions League actually. I felt the whole time it’s been a bit of a pre-season exercise for him at times, trying to figure out who’s going to be his main players next season.”
The Blues remain 10th, four points behind sixth-placed Liverpool in what is currently the last European spot in the Premier League but they have played a game more than Jurgen Klopp’s side.