By William Schomberg
LONDON (Reuters) – Chelsea coach Graham Potter was left to rue poor defending that cost his side two points in a 2-2 draw at home to Everton on Saturday that set back the Blues’ revival from their dramatic slump in form.
Chelsea created a string of chances but failed to convert before the break. They seemed to be on their way to another three points when they went 1-0 in the 52nd minute when on-loan Portugal winger Joao Felix’s shot hit a post and went in.
But Everton equalised 17 minutes later when Abdoulaye Doucoure headed home after a corner that was headed back across the Chelsea box by James Tarkowski.
Then, with Chelsea back in front after a Kai Havertz penalty made it 2-1, Everton substitute Ellis Simms took advantage of space in the 89th minute to hold off Kalidou Kouibaly and blast a shot past Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.
“Ultimately, the first goal is really disappointing from a set-piece perspective. We talked about that before the game. And then the second goal, we haven’t attacked well enough and then exposed ourselves to a big space to defend and we haven’t done it well enough,” Potter said.
“When you look at how much we put into the game, how much we tried to attack, to be cheap with the goals we conceded is frustrating,” he said.
The draw left Chelsea in 10th spot in the Premier League, 11 points adrift of Tottenham Hotspur in the fourth of the top four Champions League qualifying spots, although they have played a game less than their North London rivals.
Potter said he was encouraged by the overall performance despite the setbacks of the two Everton equalisers.
“I think results-wise, it’s a step back because we wanted to win. But performance-wise it’s step forward. There was a lot good in the game. We attacked well,” he said.
Speculation was rife a month ago that Potter’s days at Stamford Bridge were numbered after a run of only two wins in 15 league matches. But three wins in a row – two in the Premier League and one in the Champions League, earning them a quarter-final against Real Madrid – had eased some of the pressure.
Potter said hoped that defender Wesley Fofana, who was substituted two minutes before Everton’s equaliser, had suffered nothing more than cramp. Fofana was named in the France senior international squad for the first time this week.
(Writing by William Schomberg, editing by Pritha Sarkar)