23 Dec Everton maintain good run under Sam Allardyce by holding champions Chelsea
Sam Allardyce’s unbeaten run as Everton manager continued as Chelsea were held to a goalless draw at Goodison Park.
A sixth game without defeat – four wins and two draws since it was revealed Allardyce would be the new boss – probably most typified the resilience he has instilled in a previously struggling side.
It was gritty, far from pretty but ultimately effective and it was celebrated like a victory at the final whistle as Chelsea, who had scored 10 times in their previous three visits, were frustrated.
Tweet of the match
Star man – Jordan Pickford
The goalkeeper made fine stops to deny Pedro, twice, and Eden Hazard, though the hard-working, diligent defenders in front of him meant he was not required to make save after save despite Chelsea’s territorial dominance.
It is now six games without a goal for Hazard, who will be one of the most grateful to see Alvaro Morata free from suspension and injury. Hazard looked uncomfortable in his ‘false-nine’ role, drifting wider and deeper in an attempt to get on the ball and drive at defences. Chelsea look more toothless when they do not have a recognised striker in their ranks, and it detracts from Hazard’s natural game too.
Toffees on the rise at Christmas
Everton were 16th in the table the week before Allardyce arrived and feared a relegation scrap could be in the offing in 2018. Yet Allardyce, who remains unbeaten at the helm, is now in charge of a team that will be ninth in the standings at Christmas and one that is looking up rather than down.
Everton: Jordan Pickford 8 (out of 10), Jonjoe Kenny 7, Michael Keane 7, Phil Jagielka 7, Cuco Martina 6, Aaron Lennon 6, Idrissa Gana Gueye 7,Morgan Schneiderlin 7, Tom Davies 5, Gylfi Sigurdsson 6, Dominic Calvert-Lewin 6. Subs: Sandro Ramirez (for Lennon, 46) 6, Ashley Williams (for Davies, 46) 7, Beni Baningime (for Gueye, 51) 6.Chelsea: Thibaut Courtois 6, Cesar Azpilicueta 7, Andreas Christensen 6, Antonio Rudiger 6, Victor Moses 7, N’Golo Kante 7, Tiemoue Bakayoko 6, Marcos Alonso 6, Willian 6, Eden Hazard 6, Pedro 6. Subs: Cesc Fabregas (for Pedro, 63) 7, Michy Batshuayi (for Willian, 71) 6, Davide Zappacosta (for Moses, 81) 5.
Who’s up next?
West Brom v Everton (Premier League, December 26)
Chelsea v Brighton (Premier League, December 26)