Chelsea 1-0 Everton: Willian scores but Petr Cech is the hero for the Blues
Chelsea headed into the game with Everton knowing that any win would do. We needed to maintain the pressure on Manchester City by taking three all important points; but for Petr Cech, we would be dealing with a very different picture in the title race!
Everton came to the Bridge to sit tight, compact and to play counter attacking football and it very nearly worked.
Romelu Lukaku had the best chance of the game in the second half and was denied by the outstretched leg of Petr Cech, in for Thibaut Courtois who was named on the bench, to deny the Belgian striker from point blank range. It really was an outstanding chance to take the lead but for Cech and it proved to be decisive.
Although Chelsea dominated the game, we never really created that many clear cut opportunities. It was almost as if we were playing in third gear for the most part; second in moments but nowhere near our best.
I have said this all along. Chelsea are at their best when they break forward at pace, when we turn the opposition and force them to face their own goal. That never happened enough for me and arguably for the past three games. Diego Costa suspended and Cesc Fabregas injured much of a coincidence?
I will be honest. I could not see us breaking a stern and resolute Everton defence bolstered by the return of Tim Howard. We created some decent half chances but nothing anything like Lukaku's from six yards.
As the game moved forward, it seemed that we needed some sort of spark to kick us into gear and something to go for us, a moment of luck or a moment of brilliance to give us the three points.
That moment came in the 89th minute as a corner was half cleared by Everton and came to Willian outside the box. His volley towards goal took a slight deflection from one defender that took the ball passed another and into the bottom corner to bring the house down at the Bridge.
You could see from the players immediate reactions and the celebration that followed in the corner by the Matthew Harding Lower that it meant so much. It was the slice of luck you need if you are to win trophies.
I would sit here and say that for our dominance we deserved it but I would be lying but I will take those points all day long.
As for the reports you are bound to read in the press tomorrow morning about the Ivanovic spat after Gareth Barry earned his second yellow card of the game, there was hardly anything in it.
For me the most impressive for Chelsea on the night were Petr Cech with his presence and that save, Kurt Zouma for his calm and composed display, Nemanja Matic for his work rate, Eden Hazard for being a constant threat and Willian for his performance.
It wasn't our best by any stretch of the imagination, but it's a massive three points considering City beat Stoke 4-1 at Stoke. The positive is that Cesc Fabregas is back after his injury problems and Diego Costa is available again after serving his last game of his three-match suspension. In addition, the players have six days now to prepare for PSG next Tuesday.
A fantastic save, a slice of luck and a massive three points. Just what we needed!