Chelsea’s “magic number” is down to just 9 after Sunday’s win at Goodison Park against Everton. While the magic number concept works a bit cleaner in baseball (where the number corresponds to games rather than points), it’s still a useful indicator of the task facing Chelsea in the remaining four matches this season.
Nine points, in any combination of Chelsea wins and Spurs non-wins will give Chelsea the title. With three home games and one away game left on the fixture list, the task thus becomes simple: win out at home and the title is ours.
"We never look at Tottenham, of course we want them to drop points but the most important thing is to look at ourselves."
"With Southampton at home and Everton away, Tottenham probably thought we would drop points, so to win both games is very significant. Now we just have to win our home games, that will be very important."
That’s Thibaut Courtois reflecting on Sunday’s win, which required fairly little input from him, with only a few easy saves needed to go along with one lucky intervention from his best friend, the goalpost. It was Chelsea’s first clean sheet in the Premier League in twelve games.
"It feels very significant. Everton won their last eight home games, they’ve been on a good run and they score a lot of goals so to keep a clean sheet, play well and win was good."
"In the first half we had some difficulties because [Idrissa] Gueye was following Eden everywhere so it was difficult to find space."
"In the second half Pedro scored a great goal and from that point we were able to control the game better. We scored a good second goal, although maybe it was a bit lucky, and a fantastic third, so it feels good. There aren’t many games left so obviously it’s a good win."
-Thibaut Courtois; Source: Chelsea FC
Much has been made of the recent man-marking jobs done on Eden Hazard by Ander Herrera (successful 1-out-of-2 games) and now Gana Gueye (successful in 0-out-of-1 games), but had the rest of the team taken better advantage of the spaces thus available against Everton, we could’ve won by an even larger margin than just the three goals.
Hazard himself still contributed plenty, including a shocking miss on an open goal as well as a smartly taken free kick that resulted in Chelsea’s second goal. Hazard even led the team in shots taken with three. Any time Hazard takes more than a shot is generally a cause for celebration already!
"It was a great game and a great achievement. It’s always difficult to go to Everton and play a great game like we did. We controlled it from the start until the end which is good for us."
"It’s this kind of game where beforehand you can be scared because when they play at home they are very strong and anything can happen, but we dealt with it and we played a fantastic game, we deserved to win."
"Sometimes it’s difficult because the guy is everywhere with me, but when it’s not me somebody else can make the difference, like Pedro did."
-Eden Hazard; Source: Chelsea FC
Pedro’s goal was indeed key, breaking the deadlock, crushing Everton’s already dwindling spirits, and setting Chelsea on our way to a crucial three points to stay four points ahead of Spurs.
Thanks to Arsenal being highly useless and folding in the derby against Spurs on Sunday, the job is still not done and the pressure could be ratcheted up to new heights next weekend. Spurs play on Friday and if they beat West Ham (who’ve been absolutely atrocious with just 1 win in their last 11 games), the gap will be just one point when Chelsea kick off against Middlesbrough on Monday night. But Chelsea’s confidence seems to be at the correct levels. Just keep winning.