Spurned chances leave Chelsea singing the Blues

Posted by Mark Worrall

Chris Brunskill/Getty ImagesSamuel Eto'o had his chances to score in his Chelsea debut, but he never found the final touch against the Toffees.

Arriving at Goodison Park with high expectations and the hope of three vital Premier League points, Chelsea left Merseyside with nothing to show for the serious endeavor and creativity that saw them dominate possession for long periods of a game that they should have won had the catalogue of chances created been converted into goals.

Everton manager Roberto Martinez went into the match without yet sampling the delight of a league victory in his new role as Toffees boss, and his counterpart, Jose Mourinho, had yet to taste defeat. Both managers had brought in new players in the recent transfer window, and supporters of both clubs were keen to see if new acquisitions would be deployed -- and if so, how.

For Chelsea, Mourinho opted to start Samuel Eto'o up front, though curiously, high-profile signing Willian failed to make the bench. In defence, David Luiz was preferred to Gary Cahill, John Obi Mikel took the anchor role in midfield, Juan Mata was preferred to Oscar in the highly coveted No. 10 role, and Andre Schurrle was handed a consecutive PL start as the "Special One," presumably with one eye on Wednesday's Champions League game with Basel, set his team up to take the game to Everton.

For his part, Martinez, with fewer options available, started loan signing Gareth Barry in place of the departed Marouane Fellaini, and it was Barry who would prove to be the influential cog in the Merseysiders' wheel as they grounded out a 1-0 victory.

- Match report: Everton 1-0 Chelsea
- Jolly: Superb Barry leads Everton over Chelsea

Chelsea, as expected, were first to the ball as the game got underway, with Eden Hazard in particular dazzling the Everton defence with his fabulous array of skills. Debutant Eto'o should have given the visitors the lead early on when a tidy Ramires cross came his way, but the Cameroon international set the tone for what was to be a frustrating first appearance for his new club when he spurned the opportunity to beat the curiously coiffured Everton keeper Tim Howard.

Enjoying the lion's share of first-half possession, Chelsea made it look like a matter of time before Mourinho's men would open the scoring -- Howard saving a teasing Ramires effort and Branislav Ivanovic and Schurrle both going close.

With the clock ticking down to the interval, the home side, under sustained Chelsea pressure, would have been grateful to hear referee Howard Webb signal for the lemon-break right on the 45-minute mark. But as was the case against Aston Villa, an unwarranted lapse of concentration as close to the end of the first period as it's possible to get cost Chelsea dearly. This time, Nikica Jelavic was allowed far too much freedom to find birthday-boy Steven Naismith, and the Scot nodded the ball past Petr Cech to give Everton the lead.

Chelsea increased the tempo after the break, creating further chances with Schurrle unfortunate not to level the proceedings, a lofted shot finding the side netting. On the touchline, Mourinho looked agitated, and he didn't wait long to change things as Everton continued to ride their luck. On 56 minutes, the Portuguese sent on Oscar and Frank Lampard for Juan Mata and Schurrle. Within a couple of minutes, Oscar was denied a reasonable penalty claim when clattered to the ground by Sylvain Distin, but Webb waved play on.

By the time Martinez switched debutant Wigan old-boy James McCarthy for Jelavic, there was already a distinct feeling that this was going to be the canny Spaniard's day. Instructing Kevin Mirallas to push forward turned out to be a smart move by the Toffees boss, the Belgian proving to be a real handful for the Chelsea defence and Luiz in particular -- Luiz, at one point, counting his blessings at receiving only a yellow card when pulling back Mirallas.

Mourinho's final roll of the dice in an attempt to breach a resolute Everton defence was to replace Ashley Cole with Fernando Torres, but the switch gave the initiative to the home side, which swarmed forward in numbers, sensing the opportunity to kill the game off with a second goal. In a breathless final 10 minutes, Chelsea continued to chase an equalizer, but it wasn't to be. At the final whistle, it was Everton that claimed the spoils.

On returning to Stamford Bridge, Mourinho had proclaimed himself to be the "Happy One." On leaving Goodison Park this evening, he would have been anything but. The positive for Mourinho and Chelsea remains the sparkling creativity, the negative being that thorny old problem of not being able to put the ball in the back of the net.

With so much talent to choose from, Mourinho still has much fettling to do to find his optimum 11. By contrast, his counterpart Martinez, without such luxuries to consider, appeared to have found his today.

Chelsea will bounce back from this defeat strongly, but tonight belongs to Martinez and Everton -- a job well done and the plaudits deservedly theirs.

Follow Mark Worrall on Twitter @gate17marco.


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