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Everton 0-0 Chelsea: Instant Reaction | Solid Blues grind out great point

Everton were never going to be allowed to play their best football today, but stood firm to leave Stamford Bridge with an excellent draw

Chelsea FC v Everton FC - Premier League
Michael Keane and his colleagues proved impenetrable as Everton managed a goalless draw
Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

If Everton’s slick home win over Brighton & Hove Albion last weekend was one for the purists, today’s draw at Chelsea was more for the pragmatists.

There were few, if any, silky combinations between Gylfi Sigurðsson and Richarlison, or penetrative ventures forward from Seamus Coleman or Lucas Digne.

The Blues, despite having chances, had little choice but to defend for the majority of the goalless draw, and did so with commendable cohesion, the like of which was rarely, if ever seen in the long-forgotten days of last season.

Everton made only one change to the side which comfortably saw off the Seagulls; with loanee Kurt Zouma ineligible to face his parent club, Yerry Mina was handed his first start in a competitive game in royal blue.

Chelsea FC v Everton FC - Premier League
Mina completed 90 minutes as an Everton player for the first time in the Premier League
Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

And the Blues started the brighter, undeterred by the daunting prospect of facing a side unbeaten in all competitions this season, as Marco Silva’s men looked to take the game to the hosts from the offset.

André Gomes headed just over the bar from Digne’s excellent corner inside three minutes, and soon after, Bernard narrowly fired wide with a half-volley from the edge of the penalty area.

But Chelsea began to apply more pressure on the Everton defence as the first period wore on, and came closest to breaking the deadlock through full-back Marcos Alonso on 40 minutes.

A clever move from a free-kick saw Willian pick out the unmarked Spaniard at the far post, and his first-time volley forced Jordan Pickford into action for the first time, diving across his goal to parry the ball away.

If the first half was short on goalmouth action, it was rife with stoppages and fouls.

Referee Kevin Friend endured an arduous first 45 minutes, beginning by booking Mina for a seemingly fair challenge on Eden Hazard.

Bernard was later booked for an innocuous off-the-ball-incident with Antonio Rüdiger, and the German defender’s exaggerations paid dividends as the Brazilian was somewhat unfairly punished.

Chelsea FC v Everton FC - Premier League
Bernard was one such recipient of a booking in the first half
Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Chelsea and new manager Maurizio Sarri have won countless plaudits this season for their expansive, dynamic style of play, dubbed ‘Sarriball’, but such verve in attack was almost entirely non-existent before the half-time whistle.

It was instead abandoned for a far more aggressive, belligerent attitude akin to the approach under Sarri’s predecessor, Antonio Conte, albeit to no avail.

Jorginho also received the same punishment later on for an inarguably more malicious foul on Sigurðsson who, as well as Digne and Theo Walcott in the first half, required treatment.

But the second period nearly began in the worst possible fashion for the Toffees, as Pickford was forced to deny Álvaro Morata from finding the England goalkeeper’s near post less than a minute after the restart.

Moments later, Walcott, whose recent form, or lack thereof, has sparked criticism among some Evertonians, was the recipient of a beautiful Sigurðsson ball; the Icelandic sliced open their opponent’s back line with the sort of quality eluding the first half.

But when played through on goal by his team-mate, he was let down by his first touch, and as the ball bounced kindly though to goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, his exasperated grimace epitomised just how huge an opportunity had passed him by.

Sigurðsson then managed Everton’s first shot on target, as a carbon copy of his long-range stunner at Leicester City last month forced Kepa to make a flying save.

Chelsea would come again, though, and Alonso, the home side’s greatest threat, was the architect yet again, firing against the post from range with Pickford beaten.

With 20 minutes to go, Morata thought he had found the goal which would - at least temporarily - have put the hosts top, with a strike inside the six-yard box, only for the offside flag to correctly be raised and the game remain in a stalemate.

With Chelsea running out of time to find a winner, Sarri turned to former Toffee Ross Barkley, whose introduction was jeered as vociferously by the packed-out away end as when he fired dreadfully wide from long range.

Chelsea FC v Everton FC - Premier League
Ross Barkley made little impact as a late substitute against his former team
Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

But, on a ground where Everton had conceded 89th-minute goals or later in four of their last six visits, there was to be no repeat today.

Though the 24-year wait for another win at Stamford Bridge goes on, Silva and his side will undoubtedly leave the happier, even though the Toffees remain ninth.

This was a hugely encouraging performance which underlined the qualities that a side packed with talented individuals possess as a collective.

They may not have marked Remembrance Sunday with the most memorable showing, but it certainly was a result many will not forget for a while.