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

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv'The Last Kingdom' embraces politics, religion, warfare, courage, love and loyalty, say creators
News
peopleThe Game of Thrones author said speculation about his health and death was 'offensive'
News
Justin Bieber performing in Paris earlier this year
people
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman and Lauren O'Neil in Jamie Lloyd's Richard III
theatreReview: The monarch's malign magnetism and diabolic effrontery aren’t felt
Arts and Entertainment
'Molecular Man +1+1+1' by Jonathan Borofsky at Yorkshire Sculpture park
tv
News
Glamour magazine hosts a yoga class with Yogalosophy author Mandy Ingber on June 10, 2013 in New York City.
newsFather Padraig O'Baoill said the exercise was 'unsavoury' in a weekly parish newsletter
Extras
indybest
News
people'She is unstoppable', says Jean Paul Gaultier at Paris show
Sport
Alexis Sanchez and apparently his barber Carlos Moles in Barcelona today
football
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips
video
Arts and Entertainment
In his own words: Oscar Wilde in 1882
theatreNew play by the Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials - and what they reveal about the man
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m
filmWith US films earning record-breaking amounts at the Chinese box office, Hollywood is more than happy to take its lead from its new-found Asian audience
Caption competition
Caption competition

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil