Chelsea have slipped out of the top four for the first time since New Year’s Day after succumbing to yet another disappointing result away to Everton.

The Toffees got off to the perfect start as Steven Pienaar, making his second debut for the club, capitalised on sloppy play from the away defence after five minutes.

Aside from a brief period of mediocre attacking play in the first half, Everton were fairly comfortable throughout and put the game beyond their opponents with 19 minutes to go.

On paper it’s a surprise result. In reality, though, a lot of supporters will have been expecting this result. Aside from October’s victory in the League Cup, Chelsea have lost each of their previous three encounters at Goodison Park, and haven’t won a league game there since 2008.

Add into the equation both teams’ recent form and the result, in hindsight at least, seems predictable. Everton, buoyed by loan signings and their traditional post-Christmas form, have recently beaten league leaders Manchester City and are unbeaten for over a month now. Chelsea, meanwhile, haven’t won in the league since mid-January and suffered a morale-crushing comeback at the hands of Manchester United last Sunday.

David Moyes’ side were rewarded for a lively start when a sloppy Jose Bosingwa throw-in landed at the feet Tim Cahill whose pass deflected off Chelsea captain Frank Lampard and into the path of Pienaar who controlled well and smashed the ball into the roof of the net.

The Blues slowly recovered with Juan Mata pulling the strings and had a couple of chances mid-way through the half, but that was about as good as it got.

In the 26th minute the Spaniard put Daniel Sturridge through only for his shot to be deflected behind for a corner, and then two minutes later Mata found Lampard unmarked in the box, but the England international dragged his shot wide.

The second half was even worse from a Chelsea perspective. When Denis Stracqualursi, put through by Landon Donovan, slotted his shot past Petr Cech in the 71st minute, the game was well and truly and miserably over.

Andre Villas-Boas, who endured some vocal criticism from the travelling support, some of whom were clearly in disagreement with some of his tactical decisions, admitted that this was his side’s “worst game of the season”.

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