A fully-fit Everton side would have had a hard time trying to keep up with how well Chelsea have played this season. With nearly a full starting lineup’s worth of players out dur to a mixture of injuries, illness and other unknowns, it was always going to be a stretch for the Toffees to get any points at Stamford Bridge.
Youngster Ellis Simms made his full debut in a 5-4-1 setup with Jarrad Branthwaite also making his first league start of the season. Rafa Benitez had his side line up with Pickford in goal, Kenny-Holgate-Keane-Branthwaite-Godfrey, Iwobi-Doucoure-Gomes-Gordon and Simms alone up top.
Despite my prediction that this game would be over by the fifteenth minute it was somehow still scoreless at that point despite the hosts spurning at least three golden chances to score. Chelsea would go on to create (and waste) another hatful of chances before the break but Everton maintained their shape and discipline.
The second half was more of the same, but as the game wore on and Lewis Dobbin came on for the Toffees, Everton got caught making a rare foray up. The Blues had a number of half-chances but were guilty of a number of bad decisions with the ball in the Chelsea half and one of those allowed the hosts to break and score through Mason Mount.
Buoyed on by the away support though, Everton hit back almost immediately. Branthwaite capped off an excellent defensive effort by getting his toe to a delightful Gordon freekick to poke home at the far post and make it 1-1.
Chelsea continued to press late on, but led by the traveling supporters and the fearless youngsters, the Toffees did enough to hold on for the point.
What a game for youngster Ellis Simms to make his full debut in! Unfortunately for him it was against Chelsea who tend to control possession as they do and the teenager had to resort to fighting for scraps against towering defenders Rudiger and Thiago Silva.
He has the frame of a big player and more than once showed good touch holding off Rudiger with his back to goal.
Jarrad Branthwaite had a good game as well, considering the circumstances. He has the size and coordination to be successful, just needs more big game experience.
There is no hope for Mason Holgate is there? Always late to the challenge, poor judgement when tackling, prone to disastrous lapses in concentration, and always the most likely of the Everton player to lose his cool. Hard to see how he gets any games once Branthwaite gets more comfortable.