Wasteful Chelsea held by Everton as Pickford silences critics

Mason Mount scores for Chelsea v Everton 2021 TEAMtalk1

Mason Mount’s second half goal was cancelled out by a Jarrad Branthwaite strike as Everton hung on to draw 1-1 with Chelsea.

The capital outfit dominated the game and wasted a number of excellent chances to put the game to bed in the first 45 minutes. And, as so often happens, they failed to take all three points as the Toffees mounted a smash and grab raid, with Jordan Pickford in superb form.

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel made two changes from the starting XI that beat Leeds United 3-2. Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic replaced Kai Havertz and Timo Werner.

And the German confirmed that Romelu Lukaku, Werner, Callum Hudson-Odoi and injured left-back Ben Chilwell have all tested positive for Covid.

Everton chief Rafa Benitez was only able to name seven subs, including two goalkeepers, due to absences. The Spaniard made five changes from the side that lost 3-1 at Crystal Palace.

Fabian Delph, Demarai Gray, Andros Townsend and Richarlison were not in the squad. And he turned to a trio of youngsters to fill the void.

Anthony Gordon (20), Branthwaite (19) and Ellis Simms (20) were all handed a start at Stamford Bridge.

It looked set to be a tough night in the capital for the Merseysiders. And they should have been a goal behind as early as the sixth minute.

Jorginho’s superb pass put Reece James through on goal but the England man curled his shot wide of Jordan Pickford and the post. And two minutes later Mason Mount’s effort skimmed the post when he should have found the net.

Mount then forced Pickford into a smart save with a close-range shot and it seemed only a matter of time before the goal arrived. England’s keeper was the only thing between Chelsea and a hatful of goals as he was called into action time and again.

He dived full length to palm away another effort from James as the half wore on. Ziyech then got in on the act but his 20-yard shot was just wide of the target.

Pickford holds firm as Everton snatch a point

And Mount buried his head in his hands after failing to beat Pickford from six yards out. Tuchel looked to be boiling over on the touchline as his charges mounted wave after wave of attacks but could not find a way through.

Everton barely ventured out of their half as the hosts were totally dominant.

It was more of the same after the interval, with Mount forcing Pickford into a fingertip save from distance.

The Toffees then enjoyed a couple of rare attacks, with Jonjoe Kenny firing wide and Ben Godfrey’s effort saved by Edouard Mendy.

With frustrations mounting Tuchel replaced Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Marcos Alonso with Ross Barkley and Saul on 69 minutes.

Jarrad Branthwaite Everton 2021 TEAMtalk1

And four minutes later Chelsea were in front through Mount. Poor Everton defending allowed James to feed the 22-year-old who made no mistake to finally beat his England colleague.

But any thoughts that the visitors might crumble were soon dispelled as Branthwaite equalised five minutes later. Anthony Gordon’s superb cross was turned in by the teenager at the far post.

The away fans could hardly contain themselves and their side were nearly ahead just a couple of minutes later. Lewis Dobbin almost converted at the near post after another sumptuous Gordon delivery.

Chelsea piled on the pressure as the game draw to its conclusion. Pickford was called on twice in quick succession to deny Thiago Silva and then Anthony Rudiger on 80 minutes.

But they could not find another way past the keeper on a frustrating night in west London.