Chelsea brushed off their injury problems to storm to a resounding 4-0 win over a hapless Everton side at Stamford Bridge.
With Frank Lampard missing five key members of his squad, the Chelsea boss handed a first Premier League start to 18-year-old midfielder Billy Gilmour, who kept his place after a fine display in the FA Cup against Liverpool.
Willian passed a late fitness test to line up in a front three alongside Olivier Giroud and Pedro while Everton were able to field arguably their strongest line-up.
The home side started brighter, though, boasting a brand of slick and incisive passing and their work on the training ground was evident when Mount went close after just seven minutes, forcing a smart stop from Jordan Pickford.
The Blues built on their impressive start, with their midfield trio outnumbering Andre Gomes and Tom Davies in the middle, and with quarter of an hour gone they took the lead in fine fashion.
After a patient passing move, Pedro took it upon himself to dribble past two defenders and feed in Mount, who turned on a sixpence and fired a low snapshot into the bottom corner with Pickford standing little chance of getting there.
Lampard’s men had their tails up and a second didn’t look far away, with Willian seeing a powerful low strike parried wide after a fine pass over the top from Barkley.
Just when it seemed as if Everton had finally settled in the game, the ruthless Blues extended their advantage. Gilmour’s intelligent play created a yard of space for him to find Ross Barkley and his pinpoint through pass found Pedro, who slotted past Pickford with a composed finish.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin, so often an astute finisher in front of goal, was guilty of a shocking miss after a mistake from Kurt Zouma, somehow skewing his effort wide from 10 yards out.
Ancelotti was forced into a change at the break, bringing on Theo Walcott for Bernard, and you got the feeling the Italian would have made a whole lot more such was his side’s woeful display in the first half.
And six minutes later, Chelsea piled on the misery. Barkley was involved in the build-up again, threading a pass into the feet of Willian who thundered a 20-yard rocket into the bottom corner.
Chelsea looked in the mood while Everton resembled a team woefully short of confidence, conceding a fourth just three minutes later when Willian’s cross was met with a clever finish from Olivier Giroud at the far post.
It wasn’t a perfect afternoon, however, when Mount limped off with a suspected hamstring injury. But that gave Lampard the chance to hand debuts to academy prospects Tino Anjorin and Armando Broja late on.
But Chelsea finally delivered the ruthless display Lampard had been crying out for with their biggest home win in the league this season – and a top-four finish is becoming more of a reality with every game.
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Billy Gilmour, named man of the match, speaks to Sky Sports:
“It was a dream come true to make my full debut in the Premier League but mostly the important thing is getting the clean sheet and another win.”
“It was a tough game. I thought against Liverpool I played well but now I’m just looking forward to next game. I just need to work hard and keep doing what I’m doing.”
“It would be a big honour, would be amazing. But I need to keep working hard and doing my best for the team.”
Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud speaks to Sky Sports:
“We started very well again after a good couple of games and we interacted well in the box. We scored early in the game and 2-0 at half time, and we knew we needed to carry on and put the game to death.”
“He’s done very well again today and he’s very ready for 18, he’s a young player and has great maturity. He’s listening to the advice from the coaches and he has a nice future at Chelsea.”
On proving a point
“It’s always nice to score for the team and I believe I played well in last game but didn’t score. I hit the crossbar in that game so I was very happy when I scored. I feel well, physically and mentally. We now need to keep the good moment going.”
Two starts this week. Two man of the match awards.
FULL TIME | Chelsea 4-0 Everton
A one-sided contest at Stamford Bridge draws to a close and it’s a perfect day for Chelsea.
Mount, Pedro, Willian and Giroud all get on the scoresheet, with Gilmour shining once again. The Blues are just two points behind Leicester now – who have a game in hand.
90 mins: Yellow for Holgate, borne out of frustration more than anything, as he scythes down Broja.
Three minutes left of stoppage time to play.
Four goals, a clean sheet and three 18-year-olds on the pitch.
Aside from a possible injury to Mount, days don’t get much better for Lampard.
85 mins: The crowd collectively shout “Girouuuuud” as he makes way.
It’s another Chelsea debut for another 18-year-old, as Albanian starlet Armando Broja comes for a short cameo.
James Olley at Stamford Bridge
“It isn’t often Lampard has felt this comfortable at home. James is operating in an unfamiliar central midfield position while Anjorin, an 18-year-old midfielder, is on for his Premier League debut.
“Anjorin skied a shot into the Thames moments after coming on and has now just wasted a good chance from Gilmour’s unselfish pass. No bother, however, as this game was settled a while ago.”
81 mins: Anjorin chance!
What a moment that could’ve been for the youngster!
Gilmour wins the ball high up the pitch and squares it unselfishly to Anjorin. His touch is too heavy though and Sidibe makes a good recovery challenge to keep it to four.
78 mins: Two chances for Everton!
It’s not often the Toffees have been on top but they’re desperately trying to get one back at least.
Richarlison sees his effort charged down before Walcott’s cross, which looks destined to find Kean, is held by Kepa.
76 mins: Ancelotti makes his final change and it’s Calvert-Lewin who comes off for 18-year-old Anthony Jordan.
72 mins: Anjorin’s first contribution is not one he’s going to remember, wildly swinging a first-time volley that almost clips the corner flag.
Barkley comes over to give him a pat on the back for support.
71 mins: Play is temporarily halted as a fan runs onto the pitch.
And that gives Chelsea the chance to make a change. Willian comes off to a warm ovation and it’s a Premier League debut for 18-year-old Tino Anjorin.
Lampard is giving the kids a chance today.
69 mins: Barkley has had a fine game in the midfield today and wants to cap it with a goal against his former club. But after cutting inside Keane, his low effort is held by Pickford.
67 mins: Referee Kevin Friend has a word with Rudiger and Calvert-Lewin after an incident off the ball.
You wonder why on earth the Chelsea man is getting involved considering his team are 4-0 up.
64 mins: Everton are having their best spell of the second half here and are hoping to find a consolation to give the travelling fans something to take home with them.
But aside from that Zouma error in the first half, it’s been quite comfortable for the back four.
James Olley at Stamford Bridge
“Mount has had a superb afternoon and thoroughly earned his rapturous ovation upon being replaced by James.
“However, he was feeling his left hamstring while in consultation with a couple of members of Chelsea’s backroom staff and has opted to head straight down the tunnel. Didn’t look particularly serious at first glance but clearly there’s enough concern to have immediate treatment rather than watch the rest of this game, which is now a romp for the home side.”
60 mins: Not sure if it’s because of the injury or just a precaution but Mount’s coming off here.
And quite rightly, he gets a standing ovation. A big performance from him today as he makes way for Reece James, who slots into midfield.
58 mins: Everton have made an attacking change, sending on Moise Kean for Davies.
57 mins: Fine save from Pickford!
It’s not often you say this, but the goalkeeper who has conceded four goals has actually been their best player.
Willian, who has been superb today, cuts a low cross to the far post and Barkley goes down. Pedro is all alone and goes for his second, but Pickford tips it over.
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