While Chelsea may have looked like they’ve taken a real turnaround since opening March, the Blues tumbled to the ground on Saturday night as they had to settle for a 2-2 draw at home to Everton.
Although the Graham Potter team could have opened the scoring just seven minutes into the break, with Joao Felix scoring his second goal since arriving at Stamford Bridge in January, the former Brighton manager saw his team suffer a major second-half collapse.
Despite Kai Havertz converting from the spot just moments after Abdoulaye Dukour shot across the line from close range, Chelsea were ultimately heartbroken when 21-year-old Ellis Simms made a famous cameo from the bench .
Having overtaken Kepa Arrizabalaga just a few seconds before injury time, there is no doubt that fans in west London will know that their team has missed a great opportunity here.
As they watched their three-match winning streak come to an end in the capital, what was the focus of Saturday’s clash at Stamford Bridge?
The final nail in Chelsea’s European coffin?
While Potter may have had a rather public nightmare in west London since arriving from Brighton back in September, it appears that Saturday’s hosts have turned a big corner since opening in March.
After showing off a stellar performance in the Champions League second leg earlier this month when they punched out their ticket to the quarter-finals thanks to a 2-0 victory over German giants Borussia Dortmund, the Blues were in the midst of a three-match winning streak.
Similarly, with back-to-back Premier League victories over Leicester and Leeds since early March, there has certainly been growing optimism in the Potter camp.
However, having crashed to the ground here and knowing they were seconds away from what could have been a decisive victory on home soil, Potter would once again be asked questions.
Ahead of the international break, on a sad note, the former Brighton manager will also know that his team is facing the real possibility of skipping European football entirely next season.
It looks like all their eggs will be placed in this year’s Champions League basket and now Chelsea are only finding goal difference keeping them in the top half of the table.
A moment that could prove vital for Everton.
Beginning Sean Dyche’s tenure as manager at Goodison Park with a famous 1-0 home win over title contenders Arsenal on 4 February, the Toffees have certainly breathed life into their fight for survival.
Despite starting March with back-to-back defeats to the Gunners and Aston Villa, the ex-Burnley boss has seen his team come back in some style.
With a 1-0 victory over European underdogs Brentford last weekend at Merseyside, the Saturday visitors were undefeated in any of their last three Premier League matches.
Having captured what could prove to be a defining moment at the end of the season, there is no doubt that Everton will head into the international break on a wave of recent momentum.
Dyche’s side seem to have found a much-needed clinical lead in the final third over the last two weeks and Dyche’s side will know that stability is key when they return to their Premier League duties next month.
Now, by keeping the two-point buffer from sliding into the drop zone, Everton will know that their top security remains in their own hands.
A Glimpse of Felix’s Magic
While Potter and the fans at Stamford Bridge may have been heartbroken that Simms equalized with his last breath, they should be thrilled to see another flashy performance from their new attacking talisman.
Opening the scoring with a superb finish just seven minutes after returning from halftime, Felix has been an immediate SW6 hit since arriving in the Premier League in January.
While Saturday’s kick might have been just his second Premier League goal since his loan move from Spanish heavyweight Atlético Madrid, the Portuguese proved to be a key part of Potter’s plans.
Having caused a number of problems here for the Everton defense and apparently the man who really spearheaded Chelsea’s attack, it’s no secret that the Blues are desperate to make Felix’s move permanent this summer.
Now, starting seven of Chelsea’s eight matches since returning from suspension last month, the 23-year-old has underscored his status as a fan favorite in west London.
Chelsea: Kepa, Fofana, Koulibaly, Badiashiel, James, Fernandez, Kovatich, Chilwell, Pulisic, Havertz, Felix
Subscriptions: Gallagher, Chukwuemeka, Chalobah, Loftus-Cheek,
Everton: Pickford, Coleman, Keane, Tarkowski, Godfrey, McNeil, Onana, Guie, Ducur, Iwobi, Gray
Subscriptions: Simms, Mikolenko
Goals: Chelsea: Felix (52′), Havertz (76′ P) – Everton: Ducur (69′), Simms (89′)
Yellow cards: Chelsea: Coulibaly, James – Everton: McNeil, Gouille
Red cards: N/A
Judge: Darren England