Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has said his team has reached their mental “limit” after their top-four hopes were dented by Everton’s second-half strikes to give the tofees a deserved victory over the blues.
The blues dominated possession in the first half with Eden Hazard striking the post and Pedro wasting a chance from close range.
In the second half of the encounter Richarlison headed in a corner kick for his 13th goal of the season and the visitors’ woes increased on 71 minutes when Richarlison was brought down in the area by Marcos Alonso, with Gylfi Sigurdsson scoring the rebound from his own penalty.
Sarri added, “We played probably the best 45 minutes of the season and then suddenly at the beginning of the second half we stopped playing; I don’t know why,” said Sarri.
“It is impossible that the situation is a physical problem because if it is, you can go down gradually, not in one second. It is very difficult for me to explain the change. Probably it is a mental block.”
When asked how worried he was that Chelsea’s mental situation has not been solved, Sarri said: “At the moment, this is our limit. If we are able to play like in the first half with consistency, then we are in another position in the table.”
Chelsea has failed to capitalise on their game in hand, and still sit sixth in the Premier League table, a point behind Manchester United, who they would have leapfrogged had they won. Victory would also have taken them level on points with fourth-placed Arsenal.
Meanwhile Chelsea has suffered Premier League defeat at Goodison Park without scoring a goal for the first time since September 2013, when they lost 1-0 under manager Jose Mourinho.
For Everton, a first home win since 13 January was a much-needed response following last weekend’s defeat at Newcastle in which they lost 3-2 having led by two goals.
By Olukayode Oniwinde