Within the last week, the sheer drama of the Premier League seems to have gone into a complete and utter overdrive. Liverpool, Arsenal, Newcastle and Manchester United were all involved in thrilling games recently, though perhaps today’s meeting between Chelsea and Everton pips such clashes to the most entertaining game of the season.
Drama has followed the fallen Premier League champions wherever they have been this season and the 3-3 draw with Everton appears to have encapsulated it all into the form of a thoroughly entertaining second-half of football.
John Terry opened the scoring, though it was at the wrong end for the skipper, who put through his own net. Kevin Mirallas then doubled the visitors lead with an excellent strike and all hope of a Guus Hiddink revival appeared to evaporate.
However, the much marginalised Cesc Fabregas played a huge role in pegging the Toffees back, assisting Diego Costa to get the hosts off the mark before levelling the scores in the space of about two minutes.
As has so often been the case for Chelsea this season, they were undone by some comical defending when Ramiro Funes Mori was left completely unmarked in the box to restore Everton’s lead.
Terry then had the last laugh as he controversially grabbed an equaliser when he appeared to be offside, deep into the eight minute of extra time when only seven had be allotted in the first place.
While it was a great advert for the Premier League (excuse the cliché), the result does little for either team if they still harbour any ambitions of an unlikely top four challenge.
Here are FIVE things we learned during Chelsea’s pulsating 3-3 draw with Everton today.
Cesc Fabregas has been one of the major disappointments for Chelsea this season as the 30-year old World Cup winning midfielder has toiled in the engine room all term. However, a player of his undoubted quality can never truly be written off, as he proved today.
The former Arsenal and Barcelona man took proceedings by the scruff of the neck at Stamford Bridge, assisting Diego Costa before recording his first goal in the Premier League since April 2014. His all-round contribution was fantastic, showing passion not seen the Spaniard since his days as Arsenal captain.
When he is on song, Chelsea have one of the best midfielders in Europe pulling the strings in the middle of the park.
Perhaps this season will see a reverse of his usual form. While he tends to be excellent in the opening few months of the campaign, he will fizzle out as the season progress.
If that trend reverses, he could be the best man to lift Chelsea out of the mess they find themselves entrenched in.
Everton are a team setup to play football, as you would expect from a side under the stewardship of Roberto Martinez. While that allows stars like Ross Barkley, Romelu Lukaku and Gerard Delefueo to flourish, it doesn’t do a lot of good to their leaky backline.
Going forward, they are a joy to watch. However, when the opposition probe their defence, the Toffees seem to absolutely crumble. It’s a wonder to think how good the Merseyside would be if Martinez could sort out some of the many issues constantly dogging them.
While John Stones is a classy operator, the England international cannot be expected to completely marshal a backline when still in the developmental stages of his professional career.
Nemanja Matic, like Fabregas, was instrumental in their route to the Premier League crown, though has seemingly lost all trace of his imperious form. The reason for his alarming decline is not clear, though the Serbian is a shadow of his former self.
In fact, the man once hailed as the most imposing holding midfielder on the continent now looks scared of the shadow he has become. He was outclassed by the opposition in both a physical aspect and a mental one. Out fought. Out thought.
He was hauled off early on and the Jose Mourinho hangover appears to be effecting him more than anyone.
It’s such a hard contrast to grasp, as the man simply looked so assured and in command when he initially arrived back at Stamford Bridge to start his second spell.
John Stones still manages to look like a class act even when plying his trade in a largely unconvincing backline. The 21-year old is such a treat to watch on the ball, exuding elegance in ways not see since Rio Ferdinand was in his pomp.
Compare that to the shaky looking Chelsea rearguard and it’s easy to see why the Blues fought so hard to land him in the summer. And why Everton fought so hard to keep him.
The former Barnsley youngster has the composure to keep a fiery Diego Costa at bay, looking assured in every little he action he does on the field of play.
It’s easy to see just why he is often linked with Barcelona, possessing a wonderful technique that would stand him in good stead with the Blaugrana.
With Roy Hodgson in attendance, Stones must be the first-choice England centre-back heading into this summer’s European Championships.
Chelsea players had been accused of more or less downing tools towards the end of Jose Mourinho’s tenure in charge of the club. While the problems dogging the Blues have not yet ceased, the players at least showed fans and pundits alike an element of passion has returned to the ranks.
John Terry was indeed off-side when he levelled the scores with a clever finish this afternoon, though the determination to even score it in the first place is to be admired. It’s hard to imagine this side coming from 2-0, then 2-3 down, in order to rescue a point while Mourinho was in charge this season.
You can’t knock them for heart, that much is clear. What you can knock them for is a distinct lack of quality, however. Perhaps it’s the least they can do and such a fact shouldn’t be celebrated, but considering all that’s happened this season, it must be picked up.