Chelsea failed to make the most of their superiority as they were held to a 0-0 draw at Everton in the Premier League on Saturday, with the hosts extending their unbeaten run to seven across all competitions.
Antonio Conte's men were looking to open a six-point gap ahead of fourth-placed Liverpool after their entertaining 3-3 draw with Arsenal on Friday, but ultimately Chelsea could not successfully break down Sam Allardyce's stubborn Everton.
For all of their first-half dominance, Chelsea did not create as many clear-cut chances as Conte would have hoped, with Jordan Pickford only troubled sporadically.
The champions were quick out of the blocks after the break and saw a couple of opportunities go begging, but such chances soon dried up once again.
Eden Hazard looked lively leading the line for Chelsea and he often combined to good effect with Willian and Pedro, but without the suspended Alvaro Morata, they were lacking in the final third.
Ashley Williams actually went closest for Chelsea, heading on to his own crossbar late on, but Everton survived that scare to hold on and secure a hard-fought point.
Chelsea managed to exert control almost right from the off, enjoying periods of real pressure and crafting several decent chances early on.
The best opportunity fell to Tiemoue Bakayoko, who saw his 10-yard effort cleared off the line by Phil Jagielka in the 10th-minute after Marcos Alonso's volley was deflected right to the midfielder.
Everton looked particularly helpless against Hazard, whose driving runs caused no end of problems.
And one such foray nearly brought about another chance, as he darted at the Everton defence, offloaded to Victor Moses on the right and almost got on the end of the wing-back's resulting cross.
Pickford was forced into action nine minutes before the break, however, palming Pedro's left-footed effort over after a swift Chelsea counter.
A rare Everton chance presented itself late in the half, but Dominic Calvert-Lewin selfishly went for goal himself when surrounded in the area instead of feeding the unmarked Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Chelsea began the second period with renewed focus and went close to the opener inside a minute – Pedro meeting Willian's cut-back and testing Pickford, with Alonso's rebound then blocked behind the goalkeeper by half-time substitute Williams.
That flurry failed to usher in another period of Chelsea dominance, though, with Everton looking more solid in midfield, despite Idrissa Gueye's withdrawal due to injury.
Chelsea were successful in preventing Everton from becoming a threat, though they were forced to wait until the 76th minute for their next chance.
WOODWORK! The crossbar saves Everton from an own-goal as Williams flicks Moses's cross towards the net Pickford is guarding. It stays 0-0. #EVECHE— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) December 23, 2017
Moses flashed a teasing delivery across the face of goal that Williams glanced on to the bar, breathing a sigh of relief as it bounced away to safety.
Everton played the majority of the final 10 minutes with everyone other than Sandro Ramirez behind the ball, but they very nearly stole victory right at the end, as Michael Keane headed just over from a corner, much to the relief of Conte and Chelsea.
Key Opta Facts:
- Everton kept their first Premier League clean sheet in nine games against Chelsea, since a 1-0 win in September 2013. However, the Toffees have now failed to score in their last four Premier League games against Chelsea.
- Everton have kept three clean sheets in their five Premier League games under Sam Allardyce – the same number they'd kept in their previous 18 in the competition.
- Chelsea had 25 shots in this match, their most in a Premier League game without scoring since January 2014 (39 vs West Ham).
- Meanwhile, Everton failed to have a single shot on target in a home Premier League game for the first time since 4th December 2011 vs Stoke; 2211 days ago.