In pictures: Chelsea v Everton
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Chelsea were left ruing missed chances after Everton held them to a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge on Thursday, denting their Premier League title hopes. Both sides were missing key players through injury and illness – amid the recent rise in Covid cases across the nation – but Chelsea’s wastefulness in the final third was the source of their own downfall.
The first half ended 0-0, despite the hosts recording 13 shots, six on target, and creating four big chances to take the lead.
Mason Mount continued his rich vein of form to finally fire Thomas Tuchel’s side ahead in the 70th minute.
But just four minutes later, Jarrad Branthwaite met Anthony Gordon’s sumptuous inswinging free-kick to silence the home terraces.
Chelsea pushed for a late winner but couldn’t make their dominance pay off and have fallen four points behind league leaders Manchester City.
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Ahead of kick-off, Tuchel confirmed he was missing four players after positive Covid tests, including Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner.
The pair are his only natural central strikers, meaning Christian Pulisic started in the middle of a front three, including Mount and Hakim Ziyech.
And the lack of a true striker’s instinct was abundantly clear as Chelsea failed to secure three points after 80 per cent possession and 23 shots in total.
Another frustrating attacking display should raise further questions over the Blues’ decision to offload Tammy Abraham in the summer.
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Abraham joined Jose Mourinho at AS Roma in a £34million deal ahead of the season and has so far flourished overseas.
The 24-year-old has been directly involved in 13 goals in 19 starts this season, also earning a call-up to Gareth Southgate’s England squad.
Meanwhile, Mount is Chelsea’s top goalscorer with seven strikes in all competitions, whilst Jorginho is second with six.
Injuries, and most recently Covid, have resulted in regular absences for Lukaku and, as a result, inconsistent form.
With Abraham scoring the same number of goals as the Belgium international and Werner combined this term, Tuchel’s decision to sell him seems more debatable.
But when both players are unavailable, Chelsea lack a focal point in attack, which Liverpool boast in Mohamed Salah.
Meanwhile, Man City’s attackers are characteristically sharing goals, most recently in a ruthless 7-0 win against Leeds United.
It’s a flaw in Chelsea’s squad that will likely cost them this season, both in the Premier League and in their Champions League defence.
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