MAURIZIO Sarri admitted that Chelsea paid the price for a slow start and lack of instinctive killers, as Jordan Pickford's heroine won Everton with a 0-0 draw on Sunday.
Sarri's side rebounded from a poor performance in the first half and fired Everton's goal after the break but found Pickford unbeatable as England's keeper made a series of nice savings.
The stalemate at Stamford Bridge left Chelsea two points behind Liverpool, who lost Fulham earlier on Sunday, with Manchester City having the chance to escape the Blues against Manchester United later that day.
It was a disappointing afternoon for Chelsea, which extended their unbeaten start under Sarri in 18 races in all the matches but could not count their territorial dominance.
"I did not like the first 25 minutes. We moved the ball too late, so it was impossible for us to be dangerous," she said.
"I'm not happy of course, I do not know why we're starting late, it's a good question, I do not think it's a natural problem.
"In the second half we played with more speed and intensity, so maybe it's a mental problem.
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"We may have some difficulty in approaching the race from a spiritual point of view, it is difficult to answer." Disappointed by Chelsea's failure to turn the goal into a goal, Sarri said: "Usually yes we are quite sharp but not in the last three races As I said to my players, I created very few goal opportunities in terms of how much I played.
"Right now maybe it's a small problem. Three fights are a very short time.
"I think I played really well for 65 minutes, but we can do better." Sarri is the first new manager to avoid defeat in his first 12 games in the Premier League, giving him a unique landmark he shared with Frank Clark of Nottingham Forest this weekend.
"I'm very proud of this, and I have to say thank you to my players and my staff, of course I prefer three points from the record," said Sarri.
Recognizing that Chelsea will not be easy to keep up with the rhythms of Liverpool and the city, Sarri added: "At this moment, the average points for City and Liverpool are very high, it is very difficult to stay close to these teams "He did not help this, despite the fact that he scored Crystal Palace twice this weekend, Alvaro Morata tried once again to enforce.
Chelsea eventually threatened when Marco Alonso's free kick just shone. It took 39 minutes for Sarri's team to get a shot at the goal when Alonso experienced Willian's high free kick with a thunderous ride Piercourt repelled.
Bernard had been caught up in a hurry just before half-time, aggressively moving to Antonio Rudiger, as Chelsea's defender defied him for his failed attempt to win a free kick.
Rudiger seemed to take advantage of the least possible contact from Bernard and both players were detained by referee Kevin Friend.
That was one of the many momentary points in a clash that saw Chelsea's Jorginho holding to sing at Gylfi Sigurdsson.
"It was a tough fight and I hope we will not lose Sigurdsson after the Jorginho attack," said Everton's boss Marco Silva.
Eden Hazard tried to shoot Chelsea in life shortly after the time, hopping on an ambitious cross that Morata caused goals, only for Pickford to make an excellent stop.
When Hazard slipped a wonderful pass to Willian, it seemed certain that the Brazilian would break the dead end, but sent his shot to width.
By making his second start after returning from a back injury, Hazard was much livelier in the second half and his tedious drive forced Pickford to save himself.
Everton fired with Everton's defeat, and Hazard went back again when his shot was thrown off by Yerry Mina, forcing Pickford to turn over in full stretch.
Only woodcarving refused Chelsea when Alonso's low shot hit the far end, while Danger cut a shot narrower as the blues disappointment was placed.