Morata stars in Chelsea win vs. lifeless Everton to maintain momentum – ESPN FC (blog)

Posted: August 27, 2017 at 9:43 pm


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Chelsea had Everton absolutely locked down at Stamford Bridge as Alvaro Morata set up one and scored the other.

Chelsea coasted to a comfortable 2-0 victory over Everton at sun-drenched Stamford Bridge as first-half goals from Cesc Fabregas and Alvaro Morata maintained the London club's momentum restored by last weekend's win over Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley.

The Mediterranean weather seemed to benefit the Blues' Spanish contingent of players in particular, with Morata providing the assist for Fabregas' goal and Cesar Azpilicueta setting up Chelsea's new No. 9, whose header sealed the points for Antonio Conte's side.

Positives

A comfortable clean sheet was as pleasing as Morata's goal and assist. Admittedly, Everton looked a little jaded, understandable given their Thursday night Europa League exertions in Split, but games still have to be won and it was mission accomplished for Conte.

Negatives

Chelsea's failure to add to their first-half goal tally was frustrating given the fact that Everton were there for the taking. Victor Moses, Pedro and substitute Michy Batshuayi all had decent chances to score. Conte will be mindful of this profligacy in the final days of the transfer window.

Manager rating out of 10

8 -- Conte's big call of the day was restoring Fabregas to his starting line-up ahead of Tiemoue Bakayoko, who had featured against Spurs with the Spaniard suspended. The Italian's faith in the midfielder was repaid with a goal and a composed performance.

Player ratings (1-10, 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Thibaut Courtois, 7 -- The fact the Belgium international goalkeeper was scarcely involved in the game is a measure of Chelsea's dominance. He stayed focused and was well-positioned to make his only save of the game three minutes from time, tipping a speculative Everton effort over the bar.

DF Cesar Azpilicueta, 8 -- Captaining Chelsea for the first time at Stamford Bridge, Azpilicueta clearly enjoyed the responsibility of keeping Chelsea's back-line organised. Playing centre-back doesn't mean Azpi forgets his craft down the flanks and it was his peachy cross that picked out Morata's head for what proved to be the goal that put the game beyond Everton.

DF David Luiz, 7 -- Spent much of the first half in an advanced sweeper role and was involved in some fantastic give-and-go football with his teammates. Largely untroubled in defence with Everton offering very little through the middle of the park.

DF Antonio Rudiger, 8 -- Rudiger is going to be a great player for Chelsea. The quality of the German international's blocking tackles, interceptions, pace and positioning was first-class throughout the contest.

MF Victor Moses, 7 -- Moses cannot be faulted for trying. The Nigeria international is the player perhaps most at risk from any last-minute transfer activity that Chelsea may get involved in and once again he put in an energetic performance at right-wing-back which on another day might have brought goals and assists.

MF N'Golo Kante, 8 -- Ran the show from midfield for Chelsea, bossing proceedings enough to enable Fabregas to steel forward. Hugely influential in the latter stages of the game when Conte made his substitutions, and when Bakayoko entered the fray the Blues had an impregnable look to them that will surely serve them well in the future.

MF Cesc Fabregas, 8 -- A surprise choice perhaps given his foolish dismissal for a couple of needless cards in the season-opener against Burnley, Fabregas found his magic hat and the back of Everton's net in what was a pleasingly composed performance. Conte will be delighted that the Spaniard's form has not deserted him and that the Clarets debacle was just an aberration.

MF Marcos Alonso, 7 -- The two-goal hero of Chelsea's Wembley triumph over Spurs enjoyed another afternoon buccaneering down the left flank. Every time Alonso was on the ball within sight of Everton's goal, the home crowd urged him to shoot -- which, of course, he did. But on this day his timing and targeting was less precise.

FW Pedro, 7 -- Effusive if somewhat mercurial performance from the man in the mask. A Pedro bicycle kick that came at the end of a wonderful Chelsea move would surely have been a candidate for goal of the season had it found the net instead of sailing over the bar, and the miss was just one of several that the Spaniard was culpable of before being subbed off in the 75th minute.

FW Willian, 8 -- Indefatigable performance from the Brazilian who was at the hub of much of Chelsea's forward creative play. Initiated the move that led to the Fabregas goal and worked well with Morata. On this showing it would be harsh for Willian to lose his place to Eden Hazard, who is ready to return to first-team action, but that's the likely scenario.

FW Alvaro Morata, 9 -- Chelsea bought Morata to score goals and the club-record-signing striker making his first start at the Bridge didn't disappoint against Everton playing in Fabregas for the Blues opener and looping a smart header past Toffee's keeper Jordan Pickford to seal an impressive personal performance.

Substitutes

MF Tiemoue Bakayoko, NR -- Galvanised Chelsea's midfield when replacing Pedro. Athletic physicality saw him win every challenge contested.

FW Michy Batshuayi, NR -- A late substitute for Morata, Batshuayi saw plenty of the ball but goal-scoring opportunities eluded him.

DF Andreas Christensen, NR -- Replaced Moses for the final minutes of the game as Conte shored up his defence to close out the game.

Mark Worrall is one of ESPN FC's Chelsea bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter: @gate17marco

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Morata stars in Chelsea win vs. lifeless Everton to maintain momentum - ESPN FC (blog)

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August 27th, 2017 at 9:43 pm