John Terry scored on his 350th league appearance for Chelsea against Everton on Saturday, doubling an earlier Sturridge effort in the first half and preceding a Ramires goal in the second, which saw Chelsea beat Everton at home for the first time since 2006.
With the international break coming straight after a 5-1 victory over Bolton, there was a concern that the teams rhythm may have been upset. This was true in parts for spells of the match, and was to be expected, however three good goals were scored, but yet another sloppy one got in at the other end.
The opening half an hour wasn’t the most exciting if truth be told, with chances few and far between as Everton looked to sit back and hit on the break, a now familiar tactic seen played against us with our high defensive line. That said, there were some nice passages of play by Chelsea, especially from the wide areas, and a couple of shaky moments at the back with Cole making a few early errors.
The first goal came in the 30th minute after a nice passage of play, Mata found some space in the mid field and dinked a ball into the path of the onrushing Cole, who then lofted the ball across the the face of goal for Sturridge to put a diving header beyond the reach of Tim Howard, to mark his third in two games.
The second came on the stroke of half time after a free kick was given wide of the Everton box late on, and Chelsea duly took advantage. Lampard put the ball into the box, and at the far post John Terry bundled a header home.
The second half kicked off with no changes and it was Everton who started brightly, almost pulling a goal back through Leon Osman who saw an effort go wide via the upright.
Chelsea’s third goal came by the way of some excellent counter-attacking football. The irrepressible Mata found Didier Drogba in the centre-circle, who turned and powered at the Everton defence before laying the ball back out to Mata on the left hand side. The Spanish International placed the ball low and hard across the six yard box as Ramires slid in and finished the move to make it 3-0.
The celebrations were short for Ramires however, as he had to go off with what appeared to be a twisted knee, and he had to go off to be replaced by Florent Malouda, and shortly after Romeu and Anelka came on to close out the game in place of Mikel and Mata.
Alas it was to be another match without a clean sheet though, as slack defending allowed an equaliser; Royston Drenthe got into space on the Everton left and put in low cross with his first touch, straight into the path of the onrushing substitute, Apostolos Vellios, who scored with his first touch. A fourth goal nearly arrived late on after another nice passage if play, but Lampard’s volley was straight at Howard.
The referee blew the whistle after four minutes of injury time to maintain Chelsea’s 100% home record and keep the pressure on the Manchester clubs and make it eight goals scored, and two conceded in the past two games.
After the match Villas-Boas said of the performance; “It was a good win for us, it is never easy coming back after an international break but it was important to get three points, particularly on a day when two title contenders played against each other. Eventually Man United got an important point at Anfield but at least it allows us to get closer to second position at the moment. A point at Anfield is something that any manager takes. It still gives us the opportunity to get closer to them but of course we still need to go to Anfield.”
“We have not done anything special. We just have to continue to win until we find a position of comfort at the top of the league. We need three points at Queens Park Rangers which is going to be difficult and see what happens in the game between Manchester United and Manchester City.”
Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech; Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry (c), Cole; Ramires (Malouda 64), Mikel (Romeu 76), Lampard; Sturridge, Torres, Mata (Anelka 76).
Unused subs Turnbull, Alex, Meireles, Lukaku.
Goals Sturridge 30, Terry 45+1, Ramires 61.