Nine minutes into Everton’s match against Chelsea, Muhamed Besic had to leave because of a hamstring injury. Normally, losing a starter less than ten minutes into the game is a bad thing. But not on this day. On this day Steven Naismith replaced Besic, and promptly did this:
And then this:
And after Chelsea had pulled one back through Nemanja Matic, he did this:
It is getting close to panic time for Chelsea. It’s only been five games, and they have time to make up ground, but their supporters have to be feeling awfully nervous. With a 90th minute winner against Crystal Palace, Manchester City is now 11 points above Chelsea, all but uncatchable. The question now is whether they will be able to reverse this side quickly enough to still compete for second or third (probably).
The stats are pretty fun. Naismith’s hat trick is the first ever against a Mourinho Premier League side. Chelsea have conceded 12 goals already this season; it wasn’t until their 15th game last season that they conceded their 12th goal. In their title winning 2004-05 campaign they only conceded 15 all season.
Jose Mourinho was somewhat subdued post-game, but still in top form:
I know that it is easy for everybody to criticize me and the players and everything is wrong and we don’t play nothing, I completely disagree. I completely disagree. I am the champion. The players are the champions. The way they are playing is not so bad as the results, but then in the game everything goes against ... even today.
As for Everton, they’re handling their brutal schedule quite nicely, losing only to Manchester City while beating Southampton and Chelsea, and drawing Watford and Tottenham. Eight points in those first five games is a pretty good result. Their next three games—at Swansea, at Reading, at West Brom—are a bit of a reprieve, but then it’s back to the grind against Liverpool, Manchester United, and Arsenal. By the end of October we’ll know whether or not they’re actually legitimate top-four challengers, and maybe by then Chelsea will have figured out their defense.
Photo via AP