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Chelsea 1-1 Everton: Game Recap

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Chelsea take their first lead in a Premier League game since November 10th. It wasn't to last.
Chelsea take their first lead in a Premier League game since November 10th. It wasn't to last.

I think it would be fair to say that I'm not very happy right now. Chelsea were fine in the first half, but went a goal up, started playing terribly, and eventually conceded a deserved equaliser. We were also treated to a non-sending off of Tim Howard, a hilarious miss by Ashley Cole, and Tim Cahill's best Stephen Hunt impression on poor Petr Cech. To top everything off, we don't even have the 'Michael Essien and John Terry are out' excuse anymore. And we were at Stamford Bridge

Wheeee. Wheeeeee. If I say that enough times, everything is better, yes?

Anyway, things didn't start well - errors from Salomon Kalou and Branislav Ivanovic within the first thirty seconds led to a vicious shot from Louis Saha which caused Petr Cech a couple of problems, but by and large it was a story of Chelsea controlling the game and probing the defence without much to show for it. Their threat was mostly coming from the fullbacks, Jose Bosingwa's surging runs in particular catching the eye, but Chelsea's crosses haven't been spectacular in general, and they were once again trying to get the ball onto Didier Drogba's head at every opportunity - a strategy that works better when the striker isn't still suffering from the aftereffects of malaria.

The most dangerous play of the early going came after a duffed corner by Florent Malouda, which somehow crept through a crowd of bodies to find John Terry lurking in space near the far post. His first show was blocked, but he received the rebound, controlled, and laid in a delicate little chip with the outside of his right boot that Lionel Messi would have been proud of. The ball floated over a flailing Tim Howard and dropped just enough to hit the centre of the crossbar and bounce away.

Chelsea would score soon after thanks to a rather ridiculous gaffe from Phil Neville, whose attempted backpass to Howard instead found Nicolas Anelka. Anelka raced towards Howard, dinked the ball to his right, and, clearly expecting Howard to follow, was slightly surprised when Howard stood his ground and ended up bowling into the goalkeeper. Lee Probert correctly gave the penalty but failed to sent the American off for denial of a clear goalscoring opportunity, citing the proximity of Sylvain Distan. Didier Drogba, who had been having trouble moving around thanks to a groin injury, stepped up and walloped the ball into the back of the net to give Chelsea a 1-0 lead right at the end of the first half.

That was to be the last highlight of the match for the Blues, who completely fell apart in the second half. Jack Rodwell came within a millimetre of equalising within ten minutes of the break, hitting the inside of the post and seeing the ball run along the line and then just wide after a beautiful delivery from Leighton Baines, who was probably Everton's most dangerous player all match. Tim Cahill then lived up to his reputation as a bit of a thug by kicking Petr Cech in the eye, which John Terry took serious offence to (Cech was actually laying on the ground twitching for about a minute before getting stitched up on the field). Echoes of Stephen Hunt came to mind, and Cech was very lucky to emerge bloody but otherwise unscathed. Yellow cards came out for Terry and Seamus Coleman, the latter presumably incurred for the crime of being stupendously ugly.

Ashley Cole, who'd otherwise been spectacular, then proceeded to miss an open goal from three yards. Indeed, so wayward was his shot that he missed the ball entirely. Michael Essien and substitute Paulo Ferreira pulled off some excellent work for the Portuguese right back to send in a low ball across the face of the goal. It eluded Tim Howard and was available for a tap in, but Cole's right-footed swipe found only thin air, and to make matters worse the left back was immediately hacked down by Coleman. By the book, it's a penalty and a second yellow, but I think it's fair to assume that Probert was too busy laughing to remember that you can't just kick people for fun even after the ball has gone wandering off.

Oh, and then Everton equalised, thanks to a combination of Baines and Cahill setting up Jermaine Beckford from a yard out. Baines beat Essien and Ferreira on loping run, swung in a cross for Cahill to head down, and it was pretty easy for Beckford to guide a finish past a wrong-footed Petr Cech. Wheeeeee.

The goal clearly angered Carlo Ancelotti, who responded by deploying Daniel Sturridge. The game plan for the young striker was to run around a bit and look quite stupid, and Sturridge fulfilled his duty with rather admirable single-mindedness. Chelsea had about four minutes plus seven of injury time to recover, but in all honesty they looked set up to defend the point at all costs, which is kind of embarrassing because this was a match against a team so close to the relegation zone that they were probably molesting it and it was at Stamford Bridge.

Thankfully for those who like game recaps which don't consist entirely of capital letters, Chelsea managed to hold on to the draw. Better than the Sunderland match! Baby steps. And I should probably mention that John Terry was excellent.

Wheeee. Wheeeeee?