José Mourinho snapped up Samuel Eto’o on a free transfer this summer, having been left frustrated in his pursuit of Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney. The Cameroon international’s experience and track record is flawless; the 32-year-old has scored goals and won silverware at most of his past clubs. It was a calculated gamble by Mourinho. The striker has been out-of-sorts at Anzhi Makhachkala, and as recently as this week, faced accusations of being a disruptive dressing influence at the Russian club. At Goodison Park, Eto’o had chances to open his Premier League account on his debut but he was wasteful. He spurned an early free header before Gareth Barry’s last-ditch tackle blocked the forward’s goal-bound effort just before half-time. Everton weren’t as charitable after the interval as Roberto Martínez’s men dropped deep and snuffed out Chelsea’s regular forays towards Tim Howard’s goal. Mourinho will hope Eto’o can rediscover his Inter Milan form in the coming weeks with the benefit of more Premier League action under his belt. The Chelsea boss doesn’t lack players capable of creating chances, but with Eto’o lacking sharpness and Fernando Torres short on confidence, Mourinho lacks a finisher.
Whilst Marouane Fellaini’s move to Manchester United was a blow to Everton, Martínez’s midfield boasts a wonderful blend of experience and youth. The Toffees manager recruited veteran Premier League campaigner Barry on transfer deadline day, and despite a dysfunctional pre-season, the 32-year-old effortlessly slotted into the Everton engine room. Barry, in particular, won over his new supporters with a decisive block which denied Eto’o a certain goal after a Howard error. The England international lasted the distance, and on evidence of Saturday’s performance, should be a regular in the Everton first-team this season. The former City man’s compatriot Leon Osman was ever-present in front of Tim Howard’s area, denying Eden Hazard and Juan Mata the time to thread a pass into the feet of Eto’o. But it was 19-year-old Ross Barkley who really sparkled for the home side. The Toffees youth graduate possesses excellent control and isn’t short of confidence as he regularly shifted past opponents in an attempt to take the direct route to Petr Cech’s goal. Barkley, who made his England debut against Moldova on Friday, played an instrumental role in Everton’s winner, keeping the ball alive despite being hounded by three Chelsea opponents, with the end result a Steven Naismith headed goal. Whilst the Liverpool-born midfielder was guilty of over-running the ball on occasion, under Martínez’s guidance, he should become a top Premier League star.
Handed his first Premier League start of the season on Saturday evening, Mata was desperate to impress ice-cold Mourinho and rediscover vital match sharpness. Looking across the English top-flight, few clubs could afford to leave such an important cog on the bench until the fourth round of fixtures. But the Chelsea boss has Hazard, Oscar, Willian, Frank Lampard and André Schürrle who can all fill the attacking midfield positions. How did the Spaniard perform? The 25-year-old showed his characteristic elegance on the ball, dancing into the area on numerous occasions but unable to conjure a killer pass or testing shot. With half-time approaching, Mata was finally given the time to direct a delicious cross into the Everton box but Bransilav Ivanovic headed carelessly wide. Chasing the game in the second half, it was no surprise to see Mourinho withdraw Mata as the Portuguese coach went all-out-attack in a bid to rescue a point. The former Valencia man still has a point to prove to his new manager.
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