Chelsea fire blank as Everton snatch point

Maurizio Sarri's Chelsea failed to beat Everton at Stamford Bridge
Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea failed to beat Everton at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea missed the chance to return to the top of the Premier League as they were held to a scrappy goalless draw by Everton.

Maurizio Sarri’s side had the better chances at Stamford Bridge, but were frustrated on several occasions by Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

The result means the hosts have now stayed unbeaten in their opening 12 top-flight games for only the second time in their history.

It also secured a small piece of history for Sarri himself, who has become the first Premier League manager or head coach to avoid defeat in their first dozen games.

Prior to Sunday’s Manchester derby, Chelsea are third in the table, two points behind leaders Liverpool, who beat Fulham 2-0 at Anfield earlier.

Everton remain in ninth, but played their part in west London, with Icelandic playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson forcing a smart save from Kepa Arrizabalaga on the hour.

However, their wait for a Premier League win at Chelsea now extends to 24 matches over as many years.

In what was at times a frustrating and disjointed game, the best chances fell to Marcos Alonso, who saw a volley saved by Pickford, before hitting the post with time running out.

Chelsea, who were armed with the fit-again Eden Hazard in their starting XI, introduced ex-Everton midfielder Ross Barkley from the bench for the closing stages.

But he was ultimately unable to make a telling impact in his 10 minutes or so on the pitch as the match fizzled out to a stalemate.

History on Chelsea’s side in title push?

Sarri’s Blues seemed subdued when the game got under way and took time to find their stride, even with the lift of Hazard’s return.

Prior to the latest round of matches, no player had been involved in more Premier League goals this season than the Belgian, who has scored seven and had four assists.

In one of his and Chelsea’s brightest moments of the match – straight from the start of the second half – he was unlucky to not add to that tally when Morata squeezed between Everton’s central defenders to connect with Hazard’s cross, only for Pickford to save.

On balance, the Blues can probably feel these are two points dropped, but perhaps they can take some comfort in maintaining their unbeaten record.

The last time they avoided defeat in their first 12 Premier League games came in the 2014-15 season – when they went on to lift title.

Blues lacking ‘right approach’ – what they said

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri:

“I think we have to sort out the problem of the approach of the match because in the last two or three matches we haven’t been approaching the games right.

“At the beginning we moved the ball too slowly, so it is easy for the opposition to defend and impossible for us to be dangerous.

“We have to accept the draw, at the end it’s a good point and we are still unbeaten.”

Everton defender Michael Keane:

“I think we played good football and created some problems for them, it’s definitely something we can build on.

“I think we stayed organised and kept our shape. We know when to press because they have got a lot of good runners but we won a lot of our 50/50s. We deserved the point.

“Jordan Pickford made a few good saves but they didn’t cut us open. It is down to the training and it is down to the talking and the organisation on the pitch.”

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