Chelsea opened the Premier League season with a victory over Everton as Jorginho’s penalty decided a scrappy contest at Goodison Park.
Thomas Tuchel introduced summer signings Kalidou Koulibaly and Raheem Sterling from the start but it was one of Chelsea’s established stars who settled affairs when Jorginho rolled a composed penalty past Jordan Pickford in first-half stoppage time following Abdoulaye Doucoure’s foul on Ben Chilwell.
Everton, without a recognised striker following the sale of Richarlison and injury to Dominic Calvert-Lewin, battled gamely but were woefully short of quality and threat in attack.
Manager Frank Lampard’s cause was not helped by a serious early injury to defender Ben Godfrey, who was taken off on a stretcher following a challenge on Kai Havertz, with Yerry Mina another casualty in the second half.
Chelsea survived in relative comfort and was able to give a debut to new signing Marc Cucurella, the defender signed from Brighton in a deal that could eventually be worth £62m, as they made it a winning start.
Chelsea never needed to touch the heights to beat Everton but manager Tuchel will still be delighted to simply start the season with a win after a turbulent summer.
Raheem Sterling showed in flashes what he will bring while powerhouse defender Koulibaly was able to ease his way into the Premier League against the blunt instrument that was Everton’s attack.
Chelsea did not cause Everton too many serious problems but this game was effectively over as a contest because the visiting defence had too much know-how and the home team lacked nous.
Cucurella’s debut was only notable for a yellow card after he kicked the ball away in the dying moments as Chelsea ran down the clock against an increasingly frustrated Everton.
Chelsea will be looking to bring in more new faces before the close of the transfer window and have been linked with a succession of names – even though this still represents a very strong squad.
It is all about the result on an opening day and achieving it by whatever means possible, a mission which Chelsea accomplished with plenty to spare.
Everton were not short on effort or endeavour in this Premier League opener but looked exactly what they are as they started the season with defeat – namely a team without a recognised striker.
They made themselves hostages to fortune with their failure to replace Richarlison after his £60m move to Tottenham and paid the price when Dominic Calvert-Lewin was ruled out for six weeks with a knee injury sustained in training days before the campaign started.
It was a flaw brutally exposed as boss Lampard was forced to hand Anthony Gordon the thankless task of an unaccustomed role up front, predictably struggling against the experience of Chelsea’s summer signing Koulibaly and Thiago Silva.
Lampard must address this as a matter of urgency while also concentrating on bringing in other new faces.
Lille’s £33m midfield man Amadou Onana arrived in the directors’ box to warm applause in the first half before the completion of his move while talks are ongoing to complete a return to Goodison Park for Paris St-Germain’s Idrissa Gueye.
The pursuit of Wolves defender Conor Coady may intensify after those injuries to Godfrey and Mina – but the need for a striker was obvious with every minute that passed in this disappointing defeat.
source – BBC