Chelsea welcomed Everton to Stamford Bridge on Thursday night as they looked to close the gap on Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table – it also meant Ross Barkley coming up against his old club.
After Pep Guardiola led his side to a 7-0 thrashing against Leeds, Thomas Tuchel will have been desperate to close that gap from five to two points.
A frustrating first half saw Chelsea garner nearly 80 per cent of possession at one stage while Reece James and Mason Mount both saw great chances come and go.
Mount, however, did eventually break the deadlock. With 70 minutes played, the Blues started to gain some confidence on the ball and James was able to find his fellow Cobham graduate.
No mistake was made this time as Mount fired past Jordan Pickford at his near post.
But the lead would not last long. A whipped, in-swinging corner from Anthony Gordon found the outstretched boot of Jarred Brainthwaite who poked the ball beyond Edouard Mendy.
Before either goal was scored, Barkley was given his opportunity to play against his former club. He was cheered on by the home fans but booed from the away end.
They were not the first boos of the evening.
Do you think the Premier League should pause to deal with the latest surge in Covid cases? Have your say below
As he warmed up during the first half on the touchline, Barkley was once again showered with jeers from his former fans. But instead of getting riled, the 28-year-old turned to Saul Niguez and laughed instead.
Barkley made 179 appearances and scored 27 goals for the Toffees before signing for Chelsea for £15 million in the January transfer window of 2018.
In the time since, he has struggled to become a regular for the Blues and was sent out on loan to Aston Villa during the 2020-21 season.
His contract is not set to expire until the summer of 2023 but transfer rumours continue to mount ahead of January.