A hat-trick from Steven Naismith condemned Chelsea to another demoralising defeat on Saturday, making this their worst ever start to a Premier League season. Nemanja Matic got a goal back for the visitors, but there are plenty of problems for Jose Mourinho to sort out ahead of huge games in Europe and at home this week.
The Blues started the game without goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who picked up an injury in training that could keep him out for up to two months. Asmir Begovic came in to replace the Belgian. John Obi Mikel joined Matic in midfield, while Cesc Fabregas moved into the number 10 role. John Terry made a return to the side, after he was suspended for the Crystal Palace game.
Everton didn’t have the best start to the game, as they lost Muhammed Besic early on to what looked like a hamstring injury. That actually proved to be a boost for the Toffees, as it was Besis’s replacement who opened the scoring. Brendan Galloway put the ball across for Naismith, and the Scot found the net to give the hosts the lead.
That lead was doubled just five minutes later, with Naismith on target again. The Scot picked up the ball and ran at Branislav Ivanovic, who looked panicked after not blocking the cross for the first goal. The Serbian backed off and backed off, inviting Naismith to let fly from outside the box. His strike sailed past a helpless Begovic, much to the delight of the home support.
Chelsea did get themselves back in to the game in the first half, as they pulled a goal back. Matic picked up the ball inside the Everton half, and when he got space to move into at the edge of the home side’s box, he unleashed a strike that beat Tim Howard. It wasn’t the most likely source, but it did give the champions a much needed boost, and a chance to salvage something from the afternoon.
Jose Mourinho made several second half changes to try and get the equaliser. Kennedy replaced Mikel, Falcao came on for Pedro and Fabregas made way for Willian. They helped push Chelsea into control of the game, but they couldn’t find a way through the sturdy Everton defence, with John Stones putting in a fantastic performance.
Everton wrapped up the points late on, and again it was Naismith with the goal. Ross Barkley played a perfectly weighted pass, and the Scot ran on to the ball and slotted past Asmir Begovic. The keeper did the best he could in bad circumstances, as the defence give him little to no protection. If it wasn’t for Begovic, this could have been an even heavier defeat.
Mourinho has to put this result behind him, with a huge week coming up. Maccabi Tel-Aviv come to the Bridge on Wednesday night in the Champions League, with Arsenal to come at home on Saturday. Victories are needed in both those games, or else big questions will be asked.
LCN Man of the Match: Asmir Begovic