Ellis Simms's equaliser is a reminder that, despite improvements, Chelsea still have work to do 

Graham Potter was minutes away from being able to sleep very peacefully during the international break.

He will not quite be having nightmares after Ellis Simms denied him that prospect with a last-gasp Everton equaliser.

Though his shut-eye might still be a little restless.

After a physically and mentally taxing period for Potter and his players since the World Cup one thing among others that he was looking forward to over the next fortnight was the chance to put his head down.

‘I’m probably going to close my eyes and sleep for a few hours, or try to,’ he said.

Ellis Simms’s last-gasp equalier prevented Chelsea from winning their fourth game on the trot

The international break provdes breathing space for Graham Potter after a hectic period

The international break provdes breathing space for Graham Potter after a hectic period 

It's been tough for him to integrate several signings like Joao Felix and Benoit Badiashile

He also has the task of keeping a squad of more than 30 senior players happy

It’s been tough for him to integrate several signings like Joao Felix (L) and Benoit Badiashile (R)

‘I’ll spend some time with the family and then we’ll see. It’s an intense period coming up, April and May will be heavy.

‘So it’s important for me as the leader to gain some freshness and to recharge and to use the time.’

He looked all set to head into the break on the back of four successive wins which would have provided further evidence that a corner had been fully turned.

Then Simms struck in the last minute to provide a reminder of the frailties that remain, and will surely be on Potter’s mind during the break, amid Chelsea’s improvement.

Frailties that left them unable to successfully see out the game having regained the lead through Kai Havertz’s cool penalty with just 14 minutes left.

Frailties that meant improving Everton were encouraged enough to believe that there was still joy to be had at Chelsea despite going behind twice.

Further signs of growing confidence and the quality Chelsea showed over a longer period to take control of the game for much of the first hour and then respond again after being pegged back the first time to retake the lead were plusses for Potter.

But, they were also left to rue their inability to manage the game when victory was in sight the real lack of cutting edge in attack once again.

Someone with that composure to clinically take chances like Simms did so brilliantly for Everton’s equaliser, breezing past Kalidou Koulibaly and firing under Kepa Arrizabalaga. A new No.9 is one of Chelsea’s transfer priorities for the summer.

Simms’ strike was deflating, checking Chelsea’s momentum, and this result probably provides an accurate reflection of where this current crop are.

Further along than they once were, but not yet as reliable as they want to be.

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Think back to where they were heading into the last international break, before the World Cup, for a comparison.

Four domestic defeats in a row and six domestic games without a win, injury ravaged, confidence shot.

For Potter, as ever, perspective is required.

‘Sometimes you have to see exactly what’s happened,’ he said. ‘Since the last two windows, you are probably looking at a 20-plus player turnaround.

‘In terms of just stability, togetherness, spirit in the group, I think that’s been a real positive over this really tough period of weeks and months.

‘It’s a unique season, before the World Cup was crazy with the intensity of the games and the number of injuries was just crazy and then the transfer window has added more noise to us but we’ve got a young group that’s coming together and forming together well.

‘Today’s performance was positive, Dortmund was positive but still lots to do.’

Potter has impressed Chelsea chiefs with the lots he has had to deal with including how he has integrated the amount of new signings handed to him in January and his man-management, somehow finding a way to make a squad that is 30-plus strong work.

Chelsea showed their growing confidence and quality to control long periods of the clash

They will also be boosted by the return of N'Golo Kante when they come back from the break

They will also be boosted by the return of N’Golo Kante when they come back from the break

But despite improvements, the Everton draw was a reminder that they still have work to do

He will have more players pushing for places after the international break including N’Golo Kante, who was back on the bench against Everton after seven months out with a hamstring injury.

‘N’Golo’s due to carry on training Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday with potentially a [friendly] game to give him some minutes,’ Potter said.

‘We’re still planning it but I think it will probably be internal [game]. But that will be good, we need to control it as much as we can and then I think we’ve got about four players, so it is what it is.

‘We have to hope the players come back injury free. We will use the break to refresh and prepare for a really hectic April.’


Chelsea (3-4-3): Arrizabalaga 5.5; Fofana 7.5 (Chalobah 87), Koulibaly 6.5, Badiashile 6.5; James 7, Enzo 7.5, Kovacic 7.5 (Loftus-Cheek 81), Chilwell 7.5; Havertz 7, Felix 8.5 (Chukwumeka 86), Pulisic 7 (Gallagher 62, 7).

Subs not used: Bettinelli, Kante, Mudryk, Madueke, Cucurella

Scorer: Felix 52, Havertz 76p

Booked: Koulibaly, James

Manager: Graham Potter 7

Everton (4-5-1): Pickford 6.5; Coleman 6 (Mykolenko 84), Keane 8, Tarkowski 8, Godfrey 6.5; Iwobi 6.5, Doucoure 7, Gueye 6 (Simms 79), Onana 6, McNeil 6; Gray 6.5.

Subs not used: Begovic, Holgate, Mina, Maupay, Davies, Coady, Garner,

Scorer: Doucoure 69, Simms 90

Booked: Gueye, McNeil

Manager: Sean Dyche 7

Referee: Darren England 6.5

Attendance: 40, 025

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