Silent night seemed rather apt on this festive occasion, but there was no joy or good tidings from Luiz Felipe Scolari. The Chelsea manager and his backroom staff kept quiet through frustration, refusing to speak to the media, after a bruising battle at Everton which ended in a goalless draw.
The referee, Phil Dowd, was the reason for their petty vow of silence after showing a red card to John Terry for a wild lunge on Leon Osman after half an hour. As David Moyes, the Everton manager, confirmed, it was "reckless" and Scolari should be careful where he attributes blame. A Chelsea spokesman said after the game: "None of the management team feel able to come up for a press conference. "They had issues with a number of decisions and felt that they could well get themselves into trouble if they did speak."
A stamp on Tim Cahill by Alex could also see the Brazilian defender join Terry on the sidelines with a three-match suspension if the English Football Association uses video evidence to take action after Dowd missed the incident. Scolari should have been angry with his own below-par players for the way they did not impose themselves against an Everton side who probably deserved to win on the balance of the chances they created.
Moyes, refreshingly honest, even agreed with the referee for ruling out a Steven Pienaar goal for offside when Petr Cech seemed to have the ball in both hands. "The referee did well," said the Scotsman. "Did he get the big decisions right? Yes, he did." Chelsea won't agree, they lost their captain, their 100 per cent success rate away from home in the league and the chance to overtake Liverpool at the top.
Cech, who denied Joleon Lescott with a fine save, admitted: "It's a pity because we could have been top of the league again, but it's a good point to take. "This is the Premier League and you can see how hard everyone is trying to stay up there and we will see what happens." Phil Neville admits Everton have more to be disappointed about as they failed to end a 21-game run since they last beat the Blues in 2000.
"I really don't think we will have a better opportunity to beat Chelsea than the one we had," he said. "They have been our nemesis in the last few years and when I came off at the final whistle, I was disappointed that we hadn't got one back on them. "We lacked a bit of devilment in the final third and if you want to make that next step you have got to grasp the opportunities when they come to you. We just couldn't find a way through.
"We can't be too disappointed, but it will count for nothing if we don't build on it when we play at Middlesbrough. We have got to be looking to take six points at Christmas." firstname.lastname@example.org