This was billed as the day that Chelsea were reacquainted with John Stones, the one that got away, yet for Jose Mourinho and his troubled players it ended up being about a season threatening to slip away.
In falling to their third defeat in five League games here, Chelsea looked as far removed as imaginable from the side that won 6-3 at Goodison Park in the early days of last season to underline their title credentials. They are leaking goals and they lack a cutting edge in attack, and a hungrier-looking Everton side took full advantage as Steven Naismith struck a superb hat-trick. “Going down” chanted a gleeful Glwadys Street and while it would be wrong to write off the London side just yet, Chelsea’s problems were writ large.
Not since Blackburn in 1995 have the defending champions managed only four points from their opening five matches and while they had plenty of possession – 62 per cent – they did not carry enough threat. Defensively, the introduction of John Obi Mikel to provide extra cover for a central defence of Terry and Kurt Zouma made no difference and the result was back-to-back League defeats for Chelsea for only the second time under Mourinho.
“The biggest concern is that everything goes against us,” said the Portuguese. “We know we are making mistakes but for every mistake we are punished immediately.”
That was certainly the case with the opening goal, scored by a player, Naismith, who was only on the pitch because of an early injury to Muhamed Besic. Neither Nemanja Matic nor Mikel followed him into the box after he had pulled away from them and released Brendan Galloway down the left. When the young left-back drilled a cross across the six-yard box, Naismith was free to meet it with a bullet header.
Amid all the talk about Everton resisting Chelsea’s three bids for Stones in the summer, they also rejected a deadline-day £8m bid from Norwich for Naismith and yesterday the wisdom of that decision was underlined. The spiky Scot is a tireless team player with a knack of scoring in the big games.
It was on this weekend two years ago that his goal against Chelsea gave Roberto Martinez his first win as Everton manager and yesterday he was at it again, adding a second goal five minutes after the first.
Arouna Koné, Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley combined to work the ball across the pitch and Naismith picked it up in the inside-left channel and an arrowed a low shot across Asmir Begovic from 25 yards. It was a terrific strike, although Mourinho cannot have enjoyed the sight of Branislav Ivanovic standing off and turning his back to the ball.
Chelsea had a lifeline when Matic picked up the ball 30 yards out and unleashed a superb shot high to Tim Howard’s right. Mourinho described Chelsea’s ensuing spell of pressure as a “fantastic reaction” yet Terry headed over and Eden Hazard’s deflected shot whistled wide. It does not help Chelsea that Diego Costa looked half the player who had bullied Everton’s defence last August.
To rub salt in the wound, Mourinho witnessed a wonderfully composed performance from Stones. He served up a Cruyff turn that took him away from Pedro and did his defensive duties, showing the power to hold off Costa and getting in a crucial deflection to divert a Cesar Azpilicueta shot. “Today he showed he is going to be a future England captain,” said Martinez.
Mourinho shuffled his pack in the second half, sending on the young Brazilian Kenedy in place of Mikel, and later throwing on Falcao and Willian, the latter providing the energy lacking in Cesc Fabregas’s game.
Everton were just as likely scorers. Lukaku tested Begovic more than once and with eight minutes remaning, Chelsea’s defence cracked again. Naismith timed his run on to Barkley’s pass behind the Chelsea defence and from an angle on the right drilled the ball under Begovic. It was, Martinez noted, the “perfect hat-trick – header, right [foot], left [foot]”. The Spaniard added that his team had “restricted Chelsea to two shots on target” although that says as much about the champions’ failings.
Everton (4-3-2-1): Howard; Coleman (Funes Mori, 77), Stones, Jagielka, Galloway; McCarthy, Barry, Besic (Naismith, 9); Koné (Lennon, 72), Barkley; Lukaku.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Begovic; Ivanovic, Zouma, Terry, Azpilicueta; Mikel (Kenedy, 55), Matic; Pedro (Falcao, 70), Fabregas (Willian, 74), Hazard; Costa.
Referee: Andre Marriner
Man of the match: Naismith (Everton)
Match rating: 7/10Reuse content