Eidur Gudjohnsen grabbed the winner at Goodison Park today to put us twelve points clear ahead of the Manchester City Manchester United game tomorrow. On a very windy day at Goodison Park where the pitch was looking dreadful, we outplayed Everton and came away with the three points, which crucially gave the team, and us fans, a great boost after the 0-0 draw against Manchester City last week. With Didier Drogba still out through injury and Mateja Kezman rested after international duty in midweek, it was left to Eidur Gudjohnsen to lead the line up front. The media, had recently been concentrating on the fact that since Arjen Robben got injured we hadn’t scored any goals, with the 0-1 victory today it will stop all that talk and maybe some focus and praise should be given to Petr Cech who has now gone an incredible 961 minutes without conceding a goal in the Premiership. The last goal scored against him was the controversial Henry free kick at Highbury in December.
When Southampton came to Stamford Bridge earlier this season it took James Beattie just 12 seconds to score past Petr Cech, after his transfer to Everton it took just eight minutes for him to be sent off. A through ball trying to find Beattie was going out for a goal kick, however Beattie running just behind William Gallas decided to head butt him in the back of the head, this was seen by referee Mike Riley who quite rightly showed Beattie the red card. Whatever Beattie was trying didn’t work; this just put Everton under severe pressure as we tried to string our passes together on a pitch that was extremely cut up. After the sending off we began to dominate proceedings, both Damien Duff and Tiago had efforts but it was our final shot that was letting us down. Tiago had the best of these chances when he was through, but chipped the ball wide. Duffer also crossed a ball for Eidur Gudjohnsen but his effort bounced of Nigel Martyn’s knee and was cleared. In the latter stages of the first half former Millwall player Tim Cahill handled just outside the area, the free kick was taken by Frank Lampard, with the ball flying into the area it was sliced by Everton defender Alan Stubbs but Nigel Martyn was there to gather it. At half time it was 0-0 but we’d clearly been the better team, it looked like we would win, but the pitch was a big factor with some of our passes going astray.
We came out at the start of the second half determined to get an early goal, Everton were pushed back into their own half as an early Eidur Gudjohnsen effort supplied by Damien Duff was saved by Martyn. Paulo Ferreira then had a shot across the face of the goal, if anybody had connected it surely would have whistled past Martyn but nobody was quick enough to get a touch. Chelsea continued to pressurise the home team, with a small amount of anxiety growing and the thoughts of the 0-0 from last week still very much at the front of our minds the goal came to ease the pressure. Paulo Ferreira crossed from the right hand side found William Gallas, his effort hit the bar but the ball came out to Eidur who coolly slotted it home to everybody’s relief in the 69th minute. The pressure had been mounting on Everton for so long that the goal was inevitable. With our great defensive record it was felt that it was job done. Two minutes after the goal Jose decided to take Joe Cole off who’d been very impressive throughout the game. He’d had an effort in the first half saved low down by Nigel Martyn, but in his place came Jiri Jarošik who’s height was in midfield and at set pieces was required more especially as David Moyes bought on Duncan Ferguson as Everton switched from their 4-4-1 formation to 4-3-2 in search of the equaliser. With Ferguson’s height Everton tried to battle back, but they were always left open to the counter attack when they lost the ball. We continued to play possession football; Everton hadn’t really troubled us throughout the game so it was up to JT & the excellent William Gallas to see us through. Claude Makelele also played a great part as per usual as he battled and broke up the play. Everton’s best effort came from a free kick, it came swinging in from the right, Lee Carsley got his shaven head to it to try and put it to the side of Cech but the Czech ‘keeper was in the center of the goal to scoop it up. With Everton mounting pressure JT was booked for throwing the ball away at an Everton free kick, he’ll now miss the FA Cup game at Newcastle next week, but with Ricardo Carvalho back I’m sure JT will make his return against Barcelona.
With ten minutes of Everton pressure, the most they’d had all game came five minutes of injury time. It ended with a Chelsea corner as Mike Riley, who had another good game on Merseyside blew the whistle for full time. The players celebrated three vital points, which puts the pressure back onto Manchester United and Arsenal. If we do go on to win the title I think this will be a pivotal game that will be remembered as we fought hard, battled and in difficult conditions wore the home side down until they conceded. All good teams do this and Chelsea are certainly no exception. Every Premiership game now ticks down to that golden day, are 50 years of wait coming to an end? Today will be one to look back on and remember, let’s hope it’s for the good!
We Are Top Of The League!
Everton: Martyn, Pistone, Stubbs, Weir, Naysmith (Ferguson 74), Bent, Cahill, Carsley (Arteta 86), Yobo, Kilbane, Beattie (Sent Off)
Subs Not Used: Wright, Plessis, Gerrard.
Chelsea: Cech, Bridge, Terry, Gallas, Ferreira, Lampard, Makelele, Tiago (Carvalho 90), Joe Cole (Jarošik 70), Gudjohnsen, Duff (Johnson 89)
Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Smertin.
Referee: Mike Riley