Ancelotti claims off-key Chelsea can still mount league challenge

Everton 1 Chelsea 1

On Saturday you could see why the £50m release clause in Fernando Torres' contract might not be the insurmountable barrier to Chelsea buying the striker that Liverpool imagined it to be. You saw it in Didier Drogba's dives; the constant attempts to thread Nicolas Anelka through Everton's defensive wall and the way in which a full-strength side went over to applaud their supporters after a draw that the majority in the away dressing room thought fortunate.

Everton have existed all season without a major contribution from their centre-forwards but Anelka and Drogba will turn 32 and 33 within a few days of each other in March, and unlike Manchester United or Arsenal, Chelsea under Roman Abramovich have never been the kind of club that buys young footballers and trusts they will make the grade. Their market is high-quality players, ready-made and off the peg. Torres fits that category. He, like Drogba and Anelka, has a birthday in March but it will be his 27th and at Stamford Bridge that will do fine.

Nevertheless, had Chelsea not suffered the kind of seizure that saw them fail to win eight out of nine league games between the middle of November and the beginning of January, Abramovich may not have sanctioned the spending of nearly £70m on Torres and Benfica's David Luiz.

The fact that Torres is ineligible for the FA Cup means his talents, if and when they arrive, will be funnelled towards the Champions League and Chelsea's attempt to cling on to their title and, 10 points adrift of Manchester United with 15 matches remaining, their grip is a loose one.

Tomorrow they travel to Sunderland, who began the slide with a 3-0 victory at Stamford Bridge in what Sir Alex Ferguson described as one of the few "perfect performances" he had seen as a Premier League manager.

"Maybe Sunderland can play as well as they did then but they will find a different Chelsea," said Carlo Ancelotti. "That was the start of our bad moment but we are in a different moment now. It is not that the squad is too old. We had a difficult time but we were without Lampard, without Essien and without Drogba. It was very difficult to maintain a good level of football without these players. Usually, when things are not good, everyone mentions the players who are over 30 but we have young players in Ramires and Josh McEachran who is 17."

There were those who thought that Chelsea's back-to-back wins against Blackburn and Bolton had drawn a line under the creaking displays that turned Ancelotti's side from favourites to also-rans in six disastrous weeks.

However, here they looked diffident and out of sorts. But for some superb goalkeeping from Petr Cech and a wonderful block by Michael Essien to deny Seamus Coleman, Chelsea would have made their earliest exit from the FA Cup for 13 years and Everton would have gained a measure of revenge for defeat in the 2009 final when Louis Saha had also scored the opening goal.

Ancelotti argued that Everton had played so well because they needed to win at Goodison and would not relish the replay in London and that even if Liverpool succeeded in blocking the sale of Torres, they had sufficient strength to last until May. "We won the Double with these players," Ancelotti said. "And we will try to do the same with these players."

Everton (4-5-1) Howard; Neville, Heitinga, Distin, Baines; Coleman, Arteta, Fellaini, Rodwell (Beckford, 86), Bilyaletdinov; Saha. Substitutes not used Mucha (gk), Hibbert, Jagielka, Gueye, Osman, Baxter. Chelsea (4-3-2-1) Cech; Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole; Ramires, Essien, Lampard (Mikel, 85); Malouda (Kalou, 70), Anelka; Drogba. Substitutes not used Hilario (gk), Ferreira, Bruma, McEachran, Sala.

Man of the match Coleman.

Referee H Webb (S Yorkshire)

Att 28,376

News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
News
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
people
Voices
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
voicesRenée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity, says Amanda Hess
News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
Life and Style
CHARGE BOOSTER: Aeroplane mode doesn't sound very exciting, but it can be a (phone) hacker's friend. Turning on the option while charging your mobile will increase the speed at which your phone battery charges
techNew book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?