Sat. Aug 13th, 2022

A spirited Everton side fell to a 1-0 defeat at home to Chelsea on the opening Saturday of the Premier League season.

A boisterous Goodison Park crowd at kick-off was quelled by the lengthy medical treatment Ben Godfrey required ten minutes into the match. The Everton centre-back flew into a challenge on Kai Havertz with such force he injured himself, leaving the pitch on a stretcher.

Chelsea enjoyed a monopoly of possession but struggled to eke out open play openings of note. The Blues were often able to pick out a teammate between the lines of Everton’s 5-4-1, but the recipient of that pass invariably lost possession as a new-look forward line spluttered through its first competitive outing.

With plenty of space for a strikerless front three of their own to run into, the Toffees threatened in transition, forcing both Thiago Silva and Kalidou Koulibaly into multiple last-ditch blocks and interceptions.

Deep into first-half stoppage time, Ben Chilwell posed a different question for the Everton rearguard for once, sneaking into the box with an underlapping run which lured Abdoulaye Doucoure into a clumsy grapple. Jorginho – minus his customary hop – converted the spot kick.

Chelsea’s unease in the lead was underlined by the repeated time-wasting warnings referee Craig Pawson gave them with just an hour on the clock.

As the match ticked into its final ten minutes, substitute Marc Cucurella found a rare patch of space in Everton’s half, firing a ball across the box which Raheem Sterling met, only to see Vitaliy Mykolenko block with a flying lunge – much to the forward’s astonishment.

Thomas Tuchel’s side ultimately squeezed out all three points but could only convert a penalty against an Everton defence which had two of its starting back-three forcibly replaced through injury by the end.

Kalidou Koulibaly, Anthony Gordon

Anthony Gordon (right) led the line for Everton in the absence of Dominic Calvert-Lewin / Catherine Ivill/GettyImages

GK: Jordan Pickford – 6/10 – On his 200th appearance for the club, Pickford couldn’t replicate his Euro final heroics to deny Jorginho from 12 yards.

CB: Ben Godfrey – N/A – Played the wayward back pass which led to his injury, trying to remedy the situation too eagerly.

CB: Yerry Mina – 6/10 – Threw his considerable weight around in a muscular display.

CB: James Tarkowski – 6/10 – Getting touch-tight to Sterling whenever possible, Tarkowski rarely let both player and ball get past him.

RWB: Nathan Patterson – 6/10 – Dogged and determined down the right.

CM: Abdoulaye Doucoure – 4/10 – Wrapped two guilty arms around Chilwell during his first lapse in concentration.

CM: Alex Iwobi – 6/10 – Lining up in an unfamiliar midfield role, Iwobi was often the extra body around the ball, subtly shuttling around.

LWB: Vitaliy Mykolenko – 7/10 – Dealt well with the threat of Reece James and Mason Mount down his flank, keeping the score down with a brilliant block.

RW: Dwight McNeil – 5/10 – Struggled to get his teeth into the contest.

ST: Anthony Gordon – 6/10 – Aerially amateur but electric with the ball on the turf.

LW: Demarai Gray – 5/10 – The author of multiple nearly-balls which didn’t quite reach a teammate in front of goal.

SUB: Mason Holgate (18′ for Godfrey) – 7/10 – Thrust straight into the action, Holgate headed away a glut of crosses.

SUB: Dele Alli (61′ for McNeil) – 4/10 – Infuriatingly ineffective at the sharp end of the pitch.

SUB: Ruben Vinagre (70′ for Mina) – 5/10 – Replaced the second member of Everton’s back-three to be forced off by injury.

Manager: Frank Lampard – 7/10 – Frustrated his former side with a compact shape that still had the capacity to threaten on the break.

GK: Edouard Mendy – 6/10 – Hardly commanding when coming for crosses but demonstrated razor-sharp reactions.

CB: Cesar Azpilicueta – 6/10 – Very aggressive off the ball, snapping around the ankles of the blue shirt he had a firm grip of. Although, did get too tight at times.

CB: Thiago Silva – 8/10 – Superb positionally, Silva showed no signs of decline despite entering his second decade as a professional footballer.

CB: Kalidou Koulibaly – 7/10 – A no-nonsense debut with few risks taken but plenty of threatening moments snuffed out.

RWB: Reece James – 4/10 – Time and again failed to beat the near post marker with his set-piece delivery – much to his manager’s evident frustration.

CM: N’Golo Kante – 5/10 – Frustrating tip-toed past one wave of blue shirts only to lose the ball in the next tackle repeatedly.

CM: Jorginho – 6/10 – Precisely picked out the bottom corner with a well-taken penalty.

LWB: Ben Chilwell – 6/10 – Unbalanced Everton’s rearguard with a piece of unpredictability which was disappointingly rare.

RW: Mason Mount – 5/10 – Skirted around the fringes in an anonymous display that lasted barely an hour.

ST: Raheem Sterling – 6/10 – Given licence to roam, the summer recruit demonstrated devilish dynamism without quite providing the end product.

LW: Kai Havertz – 5/10 – Shunted off-centre, Havertz was on the periphery for much of the game.

SUB: Ruben Loftus-Cheek (65′ for Chilwell) – 5/10 – Forced James onto the other flank, lining up at right wingback.

SUB: Christian Pulisic (65′ for Mount) – 5/10 – Failed to make any discernible impact after coming on.

SUB: Armando Broja (75′ for Havertz) – 5/10 – Stayed surprisingly wide with Sterling kept through the middle.

SUB: Marc Cucurella (75′ for Koulibaly) – 6/10 – Punched his passes confidently, almost teeing up a second.

SUB: Conor Gallagher (90+9′ for Jorginho) – N/A

Manager: Thomas Tuchel – 5/10 – Locked in a state of frenzied frustration throughout, Tuchel hasn’t quite been able to convey his plans for some incision to his new frontline.

Player of the Match – Thiago Silva

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