Everton left West London yesterday after a deserved draw, coming from behind twice at Chelsea to secure what might well prove to be a priceless point.
This was a resiliant performance from the Blues’ as they managed to recover on two occasions to grab that draw, and it is a good sign of a genuine and sustained improvement in the mental strength of the players.
That result also makes it two away games and two draws in succession, which indicates that Everton are making progress in terms of their ability to get something on their travels, and that is a major change from the recent past.
In my match preview I said that perversely it wouldn’t surprise me if the Toffees’ were to go to Stamford Bridge and manage to get a result. And they did just that.
The match was a slow burner and for the first hour or so Everton were largely defending although they did have their moments in attack too.
However, as we’ve seen so often over the last few seasons, there was still at times a lack of confidence on the ball with players turning back into trouble and possession being lost too easily.
We also saw that jittery and mistake-prone element to this team’s football that has been a hallmark for so long, especially away from home.
Then the home team scored early in the second half. And, it was an indivdiual mistake that let Chelsea in and Joao Felix went on and put the ball past Jordan Pickford.
But, despite going behind the visitors didn’t give up and actually responded well with Abdoulaye Doucoure then heading the ball home for the equaliser following another effective set-peice.
The Mali international was excellent all evening, producing a strong all-round midfield performance and scored his second goal in the last two away trips.
Previously, I have written that to solve his goal-scoring problems Sean Dyche should perhaps consider moving Doucoure further forward to directly support his strikers.
Although he hasn’t exactly done that tactically, the former Watford man is getting more involved in the final third and it’s making a hugely positive difference.
Having got back to 1-1 Everton then let it slip again as following a mix up in the box, James Tarkowski appeared to foul Reece James and Kai Havertz put the spot-kick in the net.
At this point usually that would have been game over in the past. However, this team now seems to be made of sterner stuff and Dyche also made a substititution that changed the game.
Ellis Simms has struggled to find a place in this Blues’ side despite the absence of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and the lack of other forward options available to the manager.
Last night he came on and made a decisive impact. Picking up Doucoure’s lay-off (another assist to add to his goal) he powered past Chelsea defender Koulibaly and slotted his shot into the goal.
Everton managed to hold on and after surviving a few late scares they had secured an unexpected point on the road.
Now comes an international break before the Blues’ host Tottenham at Goodison Park. In the meantime will Cavert-Lewin finally get fit enough to play and add his threat to this team?