The hero is less welcome for being so unlikely. Ellis Sims has looked a hapless figure since his return to Goodison Park, but he came off the bench to score the equalizer that lifted Everton to 15th place, two points clear of the relegation zone.

Sims had previously scored seven goals in 14 starts on loan at Sunderland and was recalled by Frank Lampard before he was sacked.

Given Everton’s lack of firepower, it certainly made sense, but over the past two months, he has been limited to just 102 minutes of football.

One of his starts came at Liverpool, when he was asked to play a lone striker role that didn’t really suit him. He may be big, but chasing lost causes isn’t his style.

Here, replacing Idrissa Gueye after 79 minutes, the 22-year-old showed what he can do with players close to him, picking up a short pass from Abdoulaye Doucoure, before brushing past Kalidou Koulibaly to score his first goal for the infield. club.

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“It’s about patience,” Sims said. “I just had to wait for my chance. We have top players so I’m going to walk straight into the team, I have to work hard and take my chances when I get them. It’s a big belief, staying united and sticking together when it’s hard.”

Sims contacted Sean Dyche in midweek to ask what he needed to do to get more time on the pitch. Dyche asked him what needed improvement and Sims proposed four areas, each of which Dyche agreed.

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“He’s fast, he’s strong but he used it,” he said. “You’ve got to go on your game and he’s doing that. He reaped the rewards of hard work and hard work. The physical aspect is a challenge for him.

Dyche spoke of his side’s “relentless attitude” and “improved mentality” but, impressive was the point at last, when they visit Manchester United on 8 April, it will be six months since they last won.

For Chelsea, it was another game this season in which they dominated possession, had many chances and somehow failed to win. The difference was that this time they scored twice and the problem was at the other end. “Ultimately we didn’t defend well,” Graham Potter said. “It’s disappointing to be cheap with the goals we’ve accepted.”

Joao Felix, again, was impressive, and he and Enzo Fernandez are two players of impeccable touch at Chelsea. They are always in half-mode, able to find space where none exists, and both are blessed with a remarkable range of passing.

But at times Chelsea seem almost to have strayed from their virtue, creating magnificent networks of passes that often end, 30 seconds or a minute, after they begin.

Chelsea’s major weakness is no secret. In fact, it’s a question that has been asked for so long by so many different people in the south of England that it seems like one of the most profound questions of the age: why did Potter teams score so few goals?

Kai Havertz gave Chelsea the lead through a penalty at Stamford Bridge. Photo: Matthew Childs/Action Images/Reuters

Almost anything in football, though, has only one answer. The Potter conundrum touches on a trait of Chelsea that long pre-dates him, which is their heavy reliance on wing-backs for penetration. Chelsea have both Rhys James and Ben Chilwell won 55% of their games this season and have not won 36% of their games.

Chilwell was key for the opener, his effort to square Fernandez’s brilliant pass falling to Joao Felix. He didn’t catch his finish cleanly either but he’s such a naturally elegant player that the way the ball came off the far post was still aesthetically pleasing, Everton’s players raved about its path.

It was James who was vital for Chelsea to regain their lead, with Kai Havertz converting the penalty.

Meanwhile, Everton had equalized with a typical Dyche goal, with Dokoure heading home James Tarkowski’s header after a corner. But it was about Sims, his first goal and, if only from the bench, an intriguing option to play two up front.


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