Chelsea 1-0 Everton: Player Ratings

Chelsea's undeserved winner to send the Toffees further of the pace in the race for the final top four spot - Scott Heavey

Late goal gives Chelsea undeserving win despite excellent Everton performance.

Tim Howard – 7

Superb when called upon, no coincidence that there has been a change in goalkeeper coach and Howard is having one of his best seasons in an Everton shirt. The American came off his line well when needed and his shot-stopping was excellent; it was a shame that an excellent performance was scuppered with the Chelsea goal. It was if the 34-year-old expected John Terry to get a touch of the ball, or least a cleaner connection than he did (if he did) and at the last minute had to revert to going to his left with the ball bobbling off him and in the net.

Seamus Coleman – 8

It’s quickly becoming a consistent phrase for the right-back; "excellent performance". The Irishman was a key element in going forward with his interplay with Mirallas. Defensively Coleman could not have been better and evidence of that is how much, or rather how little, Eden Hazard contributed to game and in the form Hazard has been in, it is only testament to the defensive side of Coleman’s performance.

Phil Jagielka – 7

Solid as ever from England’s main centre half (I use that phrase because people seem to forget Jagielka plays for England with the overwhelming campaign to time travel and put John Terry in the team). Jags’ only mistake of the game proved pivotal however, bringing down Ramires when he didn’t really have to make a challenge and gave the Brazilian the opportunity to go down. Otherwise the Everton skipper’s kept out one of the best attacking line-ups in the league and his display allowed the Toffees to build on the strong foundation he and his defending colleagues set.

Sylvain Distin – 8

Brick wall in the Everton stalwart and one of the Frenchman’s best performances of his Everton career I would go so far to say. Both him and Jagielka had Samuel Eto’o in their back pockets and it didn’t look like Chelsea were going to break down what seemed like an unbeatable defence to score, strongly due to the part Distin played.

Leighton Baines – 7

Reviewing what Willian contributed to the Chelsea attack yesterday, explains everything Baines had done right defensively because that was nothing from the former Shakhtar Donetsk playmaker. At the other end of the field Baines was once again an important cog when the Toffees had the ball and considering Willian is one of the best at tracking back as a wideman that also shows how well he played as the Brazilian was taken off after an hour.

James McCarthy – 8

Excellent performance from the Scottish-born Irishman and is quickly becoming a key figure in the Everton line-up; performances like this will only quicken that process. McCarthy kept the ball well and played an imperative role without the ball and another Chelsea attacker was evidence of how well an Everton player played defensively, this case being Oscar. The 22-year-old was taken off at halftime as he contributed nothing for Chelsea in the first period, partly due to McCarthy’s display.

Gareth Barry – 7

The same could be said for McCarthy as Barry; his England recall can’t be far away with how he keeps the ball, something that will be vital in the warmth of Brazil in the summer. Barry kept the ball well yesterday and alongside his counterpart marked Oscar out of the game and helped nullify the Chelsea attack.

Kevin Mirallas – 7

Perhaps could have contributed more in and around the Chelsea area and probably should have scored with a half volley in the final quarter of the game but I would still say the Belgian had a good game. It could be said that wide right is not his best position but the way Steven Pienaar is playing he cannot be switched to the left. I would think of playing him behind the striker next game as he will have more of an influence on the game as he doesn’t see enough of the ball out on the right.

Leon Osman – 7

Solid performance from the veteran and was unlucky not to score from a half volley Steven Naismith teed him up with early on, which was excellently saved by Petr Čech. However playing in such an important role behind the striker he needs to create more especially considering how domineering Everton were yesterday.

Steven Pienaar – 7

Excellent performance from Pienaar but like Osman and Mirallas should have created more with the amount of the ball that the Toffees possessed. Having said that I would also say out of those attacking in white the South African was the most threatening.

Steven Naismith – 7

Naismith led the line well yesterday and created a few chances for others when the ball was fed into him and he touched it on for someone else. Coming up against two strong centre halves in Terry and Gary Cahill I would say the Scotsman played excellently winning headers and holding the ball up, unfortunately those behind him couldn’t repay that in creating chances for him.

Subs

Ross Barkley – 5

The youngster has still clearly not recovered from his injury and it is affecting his performances, he should be given time to recover properly and in the meantime play Mirallas in his position.

Gerard Deulofeu – 6

The on-loan Spanish forward didn’t have much impact for the Toffees but I would say that is a lack of match fitness in returning from his injury. With some more game-time he will be back to his best.

Aiden McGeady – 7

The speedy winger looked a lot sharper both with the ball and without it when tracking back. McGeady perhaps wasn’t given enough time to have a real influence on the game but it was a positive sign seeing the Irishman looking sharp.

Man of the Match: Sylvain Distin

The seemingly ageless Distin had to battle it out with Howard, Coleman and McCarthy for the man of the match award but I thought the centre half was fully deserving in what I thought was one of his best ever Everton performances. The solidity of the Toffees’ defence built a strong foundation giving us the impetus to build on in the next third. It is frustrating that the continuing problem of the final third is what is holding the Blues back from converting dominant performances like this into dominant score-lines. It is only when Barkley is back fully fit or Mirallas is used off the striker that Everton will be able to move their dominance in the first two thirds to the final and ultimately score more, something which was happening earlier on in the season.

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