At one point against Everton, there was such confidence in Chelsea that even Graham Potter indulged in a bit of bragging.
As a ball rose into the air and over his head as he stood in his technical area, Potter nonchalantly leaned forward, dropped it, and heeled the ball back into play.
Chelsea were deservedly leading 1-0 at the time thanks to a fine goal from Joao Félix, who also displayed elegant footwork at Stamford Bridge.
But if there’s one thing Potter has learned in this work, it’s that Chelsea isn’t yet in a place where too much can be taken for granted.
And so it turned out, once again.
Ellis Simms scored a last-gasp equalizer to give Everton a crucial point at Chelsea
The young striker displayed immense power and poise to evade defenders and get past Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Everton had seen the teams around them secure vital points earlier in the day and knew they needed to keep up.
Everton equalized for the first time through Abdoulaye Doucoure to test if Chelsea really were back after three successive wins that suggested they might be.
And after Kai Havertz restored Chelsea’s lead again from the penalty spot, young striker Ellis Simms came off the bench to force his first Everton senior goal to give the Toffees another crucial point in their battle to overcome the fall. who celebrated long and hard in full time.
They had earned it through a combination of their defiant defending to limit Chelsea to their two goals and also their response to falling behind twice, a situation that seemed to agitate rather than deflate them.
Instead, Chelsea and Potter will feel deflated ahead of the international break after a late goal denied them a fourth successive win.
The pattern for the first 50 minutes or so was quickly established, Chelsea pinning Everton and back in their own half and Dyche’s men had to maintain their concentration and work overtime to protect their goal.
Enzo Fernández was the first to threaten when a shot was blocked and his midfield partner Mateo Kovacic fired wide on five minutes.
No stranger to a spectacular volley by his standards, the Croat might have been disappointed not to have scored when a clear header landed on him, with plenty of space, on the edge of the box.
This was shaping up to be the type of game made for James Tarkowski and within the first 10 minutes his first body defense on the line was needed to deny Joao Felix, deployed up the middle by Potter.
After that quick start from Chelsea, Everton managed to stop the home team’s flow by a spell, though they flickered again with Havertz’s curler picked up by Jordan Pickford, who also pounced on Ben Chilwell’s deflected cross as Felix looked to tack.
Chelsea were confident due to their form and the way the game started.
Kovacic and Fernández dominated and pulled the strings in midfield. Felix and Havertz delighted the crowd with some displays of skill.
Joao Félix had given Chelsea the lead early in the second half and they dominated proceedings.
The Portuguese was irresistible for a large part of the night and always worried Everton.
Felix was brilliant throughout and earned his debut goal at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Center defender Kalidou Koulibaly also gasped as he killed a first-time ball as it fell from the sky and passed over his shoulder as he ran towards his own goal.
What Chelsea wanted, and needed, was a goal that would have been a deserved reward.
Everton, however, continued to defend with diligence and frustration. Pickford was up to an effort from the impressive Felix before Tarkowski, again, threw himself at the feet of Reece James.
He wasn’t the only one. Two of his teammates did the same in the first half, adding in time after Dwight McNeil’s foul on Fernandez gave Chelsea a promising free kick.
Abdoulaye Doucoure equalized for Everton from a corner after putting pressure on the hosts
James Tarkowski brought down Reece James and looked to have given Chelsea the win
Havertz duly scored the penalty and looked to have given Graham Potter’s side a crucial victory.
However, Everton found an equaliser: a chaos of signals at the visiting winger and a renewed belief in their hopes of survival.
A couple of Chelsea efforts were met with a couple of Everton blocks, to see the Toffees level at half time.
One-way traffic continued in the early stages after the break.
Chilwell’s cross was met by Havertz, whose header was parried by Pickford.
But Everton, Michael Keane and Tarkowski in particular, could only hold out for a few more minutes. It wasn’t for lack of trying from Everton’s overburdened centre-back pair.
Chelsea (3-4-3): Arrizabalaga 5.5; Fofana 7.5 (Chalobah 87), Koulibaly 7.5, Badiashile 7; James 6.5, Enzo 7.5, Kovacic 7.5 (Loftus-Cheek 81), Chilwell 7.5; Havertz 7, Felix 8.5 (Chukwumeka 86), Pulisic 7 (Gallagher 62, 7).
Unused substitutes: Bettinelli, Kante, Mudryk, Chukwuemeka, Madueke, Cucurella
Scorer: Felix 52, Havertz 76p
Reserved: Koulibaly, James
Manager: Graham Potter 7.5
Everton (4-5-1): Pickford 6.5; Coleman 6 (Mykolenko 84), Keane 7.5, Tarkowski 8, Godfrey 6.5; Iwobi 6.5, Doucoure 6, Gueye 6 (Simms 79), Onana 6, McNeil 6; Gray 6.5.
Unused substitutes: Begovic, Holgate, Mina, Mykolenko, Maupay, Davies, Coady, Garner,
Scorer: Doucoure 69, Simms 90
Reserved: Gueye, McNeil
Manager: Sean Dyche 6.5
Referee: Darren England 6
Keane reached in to push Chilwell’s next cross, from Fernandez’s cross, away from his box.
Tarkowski was quick to realize the danger as the ball slid toward Felix.
But he couldn’t get to him in time and Felix fired the ball through Tarkowski’s legs, past Pickford and into the net from the post.
Going behind saw Everton suddenly throw off their shackles. Keane could only deflect Alex Iwobi’s cross straight at Kepa Arrizabalaga, a spectator to this point, before he failed to get firm enough contact from Demarai Gray’s ferocious free kick.
Everton’s increased intent and a flurry of set pieces paid off when Abdoulaye Doucoure’s touch on Tarkowski’s drop crossed the line before Havertz could clear and they were level.
Now came the test of where Chelsea really stood after their recent morale-boosting victories.
They answered it in five minutes.
James stormed dangerously into the box, Ben Godfrey and Tarkowski combined to bring him down and referee Darren England flagged the spot, his decision standing after a VAR check.
Pickford tried to further delay the taker Havertz with a bit of cunning, so the German enjoyed sending the England goalkeeper down the wrong path, sticking his tongue out at him and teasing him with a playful gesture as he walked away to celebrate.
But Everton were the ones to smile at full time thanks to a moment Sub Simms will never forget, the young striker past a slow Koulibaly and squeezed the ball under Kepa, who would likely be equally disappointed with his attempts to save his effort.