LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 15: John Terry of Chelsea celebrates after he scored the second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Everton at Stamford Bridge on October 15, 2011 in London, England.This is John Terry’s 350th Premier League appearance for Chelsea. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Chelsea finally came away from a Premier League match against Everton with a win, and better yet they weren't particularly hard-pressed in doing so. The Blues struggled initially with their guests stuffing the box with defenders, but after a spell where the match was essentially stale, the breakthrough was made and the club didn't look back, the win marred only by an injury to midfielder Ramires and a late Everton goal by Apostolos Vellios, by which point Chelsea were already 3-0 ahead.
Everton were coming in on a bad run of form, but with the Toffees proving so difficult for Chelsea to deal with over the past few seasons, there was good reason to expect them to put up a strong fight at Stamford Bridge - they almost always do. David Moyes' men came out in an extremely defensive 4-4-1-1, with Tim Cahill, nominally a second striker, tasked with tracking Juan Mata whenever the Spanish winger come infield. It was a move designed to blunt Chelsea's attack, but it also left Louis Saha isolated up front and unable to trouble the defensive partnership of John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic much.
The opening spell, unsurprisingly, reflected that the game had been shut down by Everton's chosen shape. Chelsea more or less dominated possession but couldn't get in dangerous zones, and the Toffees were looking nothing like a possible scoring threat (although the Blues defence did manage to play itself into trouble all too frequently).
Mata was the only player who looked like he had a clue how to go about unlocking a packed defence, despite constantly being hounded by Cahill wherever he went. It was obvious that if Chelsea were going to score, it'd be from a set piece or a piece of brilliance from the little Spaniard, and at the half hour mark it was the latter that emerged, Mata lofting a pass behind the defence to find the previously disappointing Ashley Cole. The left back still had a difficult job in centring the ball, but he lifted his right boot and chipped Tim Howard beautifully, allowing Daniel Sturridge to head home from close range.
The goal wasn't necessarily deserved - Chelsea had indeed struggled to create much of anything, but the team played better with Everton forced to attack and it wasn't long before the Blues were finding space and looking dangerous once more. They'd get another before half time, this time via the unlikely figure of John Terry, who took advantage of poor goalkeeping by Howard to nod home a Frank Lampard free kick in the second minute of first half injury time. That was Terry's second Premier League goal of the season - he's on pace for a blistering double-digit tally at this rate.
Within seconds of the restart, Everton were on the attack, with Leon Osman buzzing Petr Cech's left-hand post with a long-range shot after Chelsea fell asleep at the back. That turned out to be a blip, however, and the Blues resumed complete control of the match, eventually scoring on a beautiful counterattack launched by none other than Didier Drogba, who picked out Mata's run into the box and left him with the relatively easy task of squaring to the onrushing Ramires to make it 3-0.
That would turn out to be the high water mark for the game as far as the Blues were concerned. Ramires would go off with a knee injury minutes after scoring his third of the season (we'll keep you updated on that), and the clean sheet was ruined by substitute Apostolos Vellios nicking in ahead of Ivanovic to touch a Royston Drenthe cross past Cech within eighteen seconds of taking the field, and the Blues were content to see the game out at 3-1.
Despite the two negatives, it's hard to paint this as anything but a good Chelsea win. The club hadn't manage to dispatch Everton at home since the fall of the Roman Empire (or something; I'm not good with dates), and this was a markedly improved performance against a team that's given us far too much trouble of late. So, we're just one point behind Manchester United and three off the leaders City. Oh, and we've now matched last season's start through eight games. Not a bad day's work, eh?
Chelsea's man of the match?
Ramires (15 votes)
Juan Mata (199 votes)
Daniel Sturridge (6 votes)
John Terry (9 votes)
John Obi Mikel (17 votes)
Other (6 votes)
252 total votes