London, Mar 8 (efe-epa).- Chelsea earned a convincing 2-0 victory Monday night over Everton in the Premier League to extend their unbeaten streak under new head coach Thomas Tuchel to 11 matches across all competitions.
The result of that behind-closed-doors, Matchday 27 contest consolidated the Blues’ fourth-place spot in England’s first division, a position that – if it holds over the 10 remaining contests – will ensure them a place in next season’s Champions League.
Rarely is a new manager’s impact so immediately apparent, but the German ex-Paris Saint-Germain coach has injected stability and confidence into a Chelsea squad that spent big last summer but had seemingly succumbed to outside pressure under former manager Frank Lampard.
Nevertheless, the millions upon millions of pounds spent prior to the 2020-2021 season helped build a deep, talent-laden squad that with the guidance of Tuchel, who had managed superstars such as Neymar Jr. and Kylian Mbappe at PSG, is now achieving its maximum potential.
The club’s impressive depth was evident once again on Monday in a match in which the German head coach made five changes to a squad that had gone on the road and defeated defending Premier League champion Liverpool 1-0 at Anfield last Thursday.
Since his arrival in late January, Tuchel has been particularly adept at extracting valuable contributions from players like Spanish left back Marcos Alonso, who appeared to be on the outs earlier in the winter but was key to Chelsea’s victory against Everton.
Alonso set up Chelsea’s first goal when he delivered a cross that Kai Havertz booted home off the leg of defender Ben Godfrey and into the back of the net just after the half-hour mark.
Prior to the intermission, the Spaniard then nearly doubled the Blues’ lead on a shot that forced Everton net minder Jordan Pickford to make an outstanding one-handed save.
Havertz, who had been struggling to live up to the expectations surrounding his 62-million-pound transfer fee last summer, also has been reinvigorated by the presence of Tuchel.
Playing with greater freedom and finding more space to operate in his countryman’s system, the German attacking midfielder played a key role in both goals on Monday.
After his close-range shot was credited as a Godfrey own-goal in the first half, he then won a penalty in the 65th minute when he was brought down by Pickford inside the box.
Moments later, Jorginho scored from the penalty spot to give Chelsea an all-important insurance goal.
The final score accurately reflected the Blues’ superiority against an Everton squad that missed the creativity of injured Colombian midfielder James Rodriguez and was unable to generate a single clear opportunity in the final third at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea’s stingy defense has been another of the club’s virtues under Tuchel, with the Blues (50 points) having only surrendered one goal in their past seven matches.
After blanking Atletico Madrid 1-0 in Champions League first-leg round-of-16 action on Feb. 23 in Bucharest, the London club will book a place in the quarterfinals of Europe’s biggest annual club competition if they run that streak to eight in next week’s second leg at Stamford Bridge.
In one other Premier League match Monday night, fifth-place West Ham United’s outstanding season continued with a 2-0 victory over Leeds at London Stadium.
The two goals came in rapid succession, with Jesse Lingard scoring in the 21st minute after his penalty attempt was saved by goalkeeper Illan Meslier and then Craig Dawson heading home a corner kick in minute 28.
With the win, West Ham (48 points) are just two points behind Chelsea in the standings and have a game in hand. They also leapfrogged Everton (46 points), who slipped to the No. 6 position after Monday night’s action.
Leeds are around the middle of the table in 11th place after suffering their fourth loss in their last five Premier League games. EFE-EPA