How Can a Chelsea Team Boasting Eto'o, Hazard and Mata Lack Killer Instinct?
Frustrated to the brim on Merseyside, Jose Mourinho will be wondering Saturday night how his Chelsea side managed to leave from Goodison Park without a point.
Despite looking like the better side for large periods of the game, the Blues were unable to capitalise on their dominance, lacking the cutting edge required in the final third in a 1-0 loss to Everton on Saturday evening.
And they were made to pay for their profligacy in front of goal, as Everton went ahead on the stroke of half-time after Nikica Jelavic set up Steven Naismith for a close-range header.
The West London side had several chances to level the game, with debutant Samuel Eto'o, chosen ahead of Fernando Torres, missing a hatful of opportunities to equalise.
But credit must go to Roberto Martinez, who ensured that the Toffees gave every last blood, sweat and tear to protect their one-goal advantage and take home all three points.
It was a game of two halves in truth, with Chelsea coming out of the blocks fast, hounding the Everton players and really making it hard for them to play their one-touch football that Martinez prefers.
With that, Everton's share of possession was bound to be significantly lower than the 64 per cent achieved in their first three matches, and the Toffees struggled to get going at the start as a result.
Mourinho's primary principle of hard work and high-intensity play were certainly evident, with the likes of Andre Schurrle and Ramires showing their impressive levels of fitness to put pressure on the Everton midfielders.
Eto'o, who had only signed for the club two weeks ago and appeared to be lacking fitness, started brightly and had a golden chance to head Chelsea ahead after a lovely delivery from Ramires, but steered his effort wide. Also in the first half, he had a wide-open shot blocked at the last instant by a resilient Gareth Barry.
Of course, it was his debut, and while there is much expectation for the 32-year-old to impress after becoming the best-paid footballer in the world while at Anzhi, the early signs suggested he needs a few more matches to settle in.
His movement showed that while his pace may have taken a hit, his intelligence remains intact, with some darting runs in behind Phil Jagielka. However, the lack of pace was a concern, and when he finally did work an opening, he fired his shot into Row Z.
Certainly, for a player reported to be earning £7 million for his one-year deal at Stamford Bridge, the supporters would have expected better, although the failure to score on his debut should not be an alarming statistic, with Eto'o only rated at about 90 per cent fit.
If that was the case, why start him ahead of Torres, especially when the Spaniard scored in his last game against Bayern Munich?
Another headline was Juan Mata starting only his second game of the season, after several months of speculation linking him with a move away from the club. Before Mourinho's arrival, Mata was a integral part of the side, but with the signings of Willian and Andre Schurrle, the pressure is on the Spaniard's shoulders.
His performance against Aston Villa a few weeks back epitomised the doubts, with Mata looking off the pace, unfit and generally cutting a jaded figure in the Chelsea midfield.
But the international break has certainly enabled the 25-year-old to regain his fitness, and he looked sharp in the early exchanges, dropping into pockets of space and generally appearing lively on the ball.
That said, the Spanish star failed to step up a gear and only really achieved the minimum impact that would have been required. And despite picking out Eto'o on some occasions, the partnership between the two never really developed into a dangerous option for Chelsea.
And finally, there was Eden Hazard, who on the left is usually such an exciting player to watch with trickery, agility and direct, attacking runs at the defence. However, the Belgian looked distinctively average on Saturday, although Seamus Coleman had a superb game at right-back to limit his influence.
Unlike his usual self, the 22-year-old tended to calm down the play rather than continue the high tempo Chelsea were forcing on the game, and it allowed Naismith to work back to help cover his teammate Coleman, making it twice as hard for Hazard to break through and create something.
The former Lille winger only chose to have the one shot in the game, and it was a decent effort from range to force Tim Howard to palm away, but ask the fans which player needs to shoot more and they will collectively utter Hazard's name. Having one of the attacking trio off-key is fine, but with two below-par, Chelsea struggled to make their opponents pay.
With an overall count of 22 attempts in the game, the answer to Chelsea's lack of killer instinct in the final third is revealed when you see that Everton had half the amount of shots, but the same amount on target (five).
And while Chelsea will be aggrieved that they couldn't find at least one goal to bring back a point to London against a determined Everton side, they know that they have only themselves to blame.
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