Eden Hazard was the best Chelsea player on the pitch as Everton fought tooth and nail to earn a point at home against the current Premier League holders.
Chelsea entered the field at Goodison Park on Saturday looking for a win to kick off the packed festive schedule on the right note. The Blues did start off well and were dominant throughout the match, with Everton mostly playing a rather dogged role.
The Toffees only had a handful of chances to boast of, whereas Chelsea had a flurry of attempts at goal, only to be denied by a robust defence and an in-form goalkeeper on the day. Eden Hazard tried his best to make the Everton defence nervous but the Toffees held on for a crucial point.
The draw sees Everton continue their unbeaten streak under new manager Sam Allardyce while Chelsea missed an opportunity to close the gap on Manchester United, who dropped points a few hours after. Let us take a look at how the Blues fared on an individual level.
Thibaut Courtois – 6
A boring day for the Belgian. Everton failed to muster up even a single attempt at goal, with sweeping the ball and back-passes the only touches afforded to Courtois. The goalkeeper will be happy with his defence that made his work easier and almost non-existent on Saturday.
Cesar Azpilicueta – 6
A decent showing on the day. Defensively not troubled to a large extent, the player connected with his teammates well, But, ideally, Conte would like to see an improvement in his passing accuracy, with the 28-year-old managing to find his teammates with just 82% of his passes.
Andreas Christensen – 8
Eden Hazard on Chelsea teammate, Andreas Christensen:
“He’s still young (21). You know, to play in defence at such a big club, it’s not easy for a young player.
I think in the future, he’ll be one of the best in the world.”
— Scouted Football (@ScoutedFtbl) December 23, 2017
In absolute contrast to the Spaniard, Christensen had a good command over the ball and looks to be really coming into his own. Boasting the highest accuracy with his passes amongst all the players to grace the pitch on Saturday, the youngster is starting to look more and more like the deep-lying playmaker-style central defender needed at the heart of a back three.
Antonio Rudiger – 6.5
Rudiger has not made any mistakes, to be honest, in the appearances afforded to him. The player saw the most amount of ball along with teammate N’Golo Kante and was often adventurous in his approach, which is evidenced by the fact that he attempted the most number of passes on the pitch (80). Another quietly solid day.
Victor Moses – 7
One half of the pair that makes Chelsea tick, Victor Moses did not put a single foot wrong. He drove with his usual gumption, but it failed to bear fruit. The wing-back looked solid though, and Conte will be glad to have him back.
N’Golo Kante – 8
A usual Kante performance. Tireless in his work, the midfielder must have also pleased Conte with his range of passing and accuracy. Kante had the most number of accurate passes in the match along with the highest number of key passes (5). While none of the key passes turned into a goal, his presence in the midfield just brings that extra flavour in Chelsea’s play.
— Vincent (@vincentndali) December 21, 2017
Tiemoue Bakayoko – 6.5
Slowly building on his other displays, Bakayoko was decent. He did not do anything spectacular but was tidy on the ball throughout the match. The Frenchman contributed to the defensive side well, with 5 tackles to his name. Conte would like for him to spur on to better performances, though.
Marcos Alonso – 7.5
The other half of the pair that is oh-so-crucial to Chelsea’s fortunes. Alonso did more defensive work than usual but was equally good going forward. The player has often been the difference between a draw and a win for Chelsea but on Saturday, he failed to get himself on the scoresheet. A solid performance, nonetheless.
Willian – 6
To be very honest, Willian seems to be a player Chelsea can afford to lose come January. An uninspiring performance on Saturday, with the player continuously dogged by the Everton defence. His companion Pedro put in more of a shift and was better.
The Brazilian could be on the chopping block in January, with Chelsea being linked with several explosive wingers like Leon Bailey and others.
Pedro – 6
Pedro saw very little of the ball, but did more than Willian in the space and time he was afforded. The Spaniard though, would be looking to improve on his performance, with no real gumption or sting in his attack. The performance from both the wingers may just have made up Conte’s mind of bringing in reinforcements in the said position come January.
Eden Hazard – 8.5
A look at Eden Hazard’s PL contribution in 2017 – he has been on the winning side in 23 of his 33 PL appearances this year (D4 L6) pic.twitter.com/AuG99IkjTB
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) December 23, 2017
The only spark on Saturday, Eden Hazard did it all. Despite playing in a False Nine role, he often stepped back to receive the ball and then went on dazzling runs, running circles around the Evertonian defence, that somehow hung on for the draw. However, Conte looks to have missed a trick by not starting an out-and-out striker.
Cesc Fabregas – 6
Came on for Pedro to add some creativity in order to break down a robust defence. But, the midfielder was unable to have much of an impact, with most of his influence coming in the form of taking corners.
Michy Batshuayi – 5
Showed just why Conte lacks faith in the Belgian and why he has opted to start Hazard in the False Nine role rather than the Bat-man himself. Failed to muster up a single attempt in the 20-odd minutes he was afforded. Uninspiring.
Davide Zappacosta – N/A
A fresh pair of legs were introduced in the last 10 minutes of the game. Zappacosta went about his duties well, but had too little a time to have much of an impact.
Antonio Conte – 5
Why won’t Antonio Conte give Michy Batshuayi a start?!
Here’s what the Italian had to say…
— Goal UK (@GoalUK) December 23, 2017
Generally not given a rating, but the match and the draw was partly Conte’s own doing. He should have started Batshuayi from the get-go, which would have not only instilled some confidence in the Belgian, but also given the other players a target to aim at in attack.
Hazard kept coming in deep to get the ball, which left too much space upfront – something that could have been utilised by a natural striker.