Blues bruised again

Steven Naismith, scoring Everton's first goal, went on to poach two more as Chelsea proved sluggish and ineffective once again.
Steven Naismith, scoring Everton's first goal, went on to poach two more as Chelsea proved sluggish and ineffective once again.PHOTO: REUTERS

Third loss leaves them 11 points behind City, who beat Palace, but Mourinho is 'coping well'

ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

Everton 3

Chelsea 1

LONDON • Even as Chelsea continue to make an unexpectedly poor start to the English Premier League football season, with another loss in a 1-3 defeat away to Everton yesterday, manager Jose Mourinho is staying defiant.

"I am not feeling pressure. The results are the worst in my career.

"They are not adapted to my quality, my status, but I am coping well with the situation.

"I am the man for the job. I don't think there is a better man who could come and do my job."

Still, yesterday's setback was their third defeat in five games and left them 11 points behind leaders Manchester City, who beat Crystal Palace 1-0 in a clash of the league's top two yesterday. And with Mourinho being reminded by Everton fans to check his employment status in the morning and the league table revealing Chelsea to be the first team to concede a dozen goals this season, this is not a situation anyone anticipated a few weeks ago.

UP THERE WITH THE BEST

We were arrogant in our football... If we can perform with that focus and mentality, we are a team that can compete with anyone.

ROBERTO MARTINEZ, Everton manager

A hat-trick by Steven Naismith earned Everton a deserved victory in a fixture they lost 3-6 last season.

The home side were excellent without being scintillating. It was the sluggishness and passivity of Chelsea that was the most surprising feature of the game.

The match at Goodison Park came crackling to life a quarter of an hour in when defender John Stones, sought by Chelsea, overhit a back pass to Tim Howard.

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  • YESTERDAY

    Everton 3 Chelsea 1

    Crystal Palace 0 Man City 1

    Arsenal 2 Stoke 0

    West Brom 0 Southampton 0

    Watford 1 Swansea 0

    Norwich City 3 Bournemouth 1

    Man United v Liverpool
    Late kick-off

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The goalkeeper dealt with it comfortably but it resembled a shot and a Stones' own goal against Chelsea would have been some story.

Within a minute, Everton had taken the lead. Brendan Galloway, enjoying a run at left-back through injury to Leighton Baines, whipped in the most inviting of crosses that Naismith could hardly miss.

The substitute, on after eight minutes when Muhamed Besic pulled up with a hamstring problem, met the ball perfectly on the six-yard line with a header that flew past Asmir Begovic.

Five minutes later, Naismith had a second goal. He had the ball in space in the centre of the pitch. Spotting an opportunity, he beat Begovic with a left-footed shot that found the bottom left corner of the net.

With Seamus Coleman winning his sometimes physical duel with Diego Costa, Stones calmly taking on and beating opponents in his own penalty area and Mourinho subjected to chants of "You're getting sacked in the morning", Everton fans probably suspected it was too good to last. So it was.

After a largely unproductive first half hour that had seen Costa living off scraps of possession and neither Eden Hazard nor Pedro make any impression, Chelsea suddenly pulled a goal back with a bolt from 30 metres by Nemanja Matic.

For the major part of the second half, Chelsea misplaced the energy and goal threat that they had in the period before half-time. Everton held out quite comfortably and Naismith made the game safe in the 82nd minute, scoring from a narrow angle from a Ross Barkley pass.

Chelsea have just four points from their opening five matches but more worrying for Mourinho is his side's defence. Despite being boosted by the return of John Terry from suspension, the backline looked shaky and indecisive.

"The results are going wrong," said Mourinho. "Too wrong for our quality, too wrong for our status.

"I'm a champion, the players are champions. I don't blame my players, I don't blame myself."

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 13, 2015, with the headline 'BLUES BRUISED AGAIN'. Print Edition | Subscribe