Everton defender Ashley Williams has refused to blame a hectic week for his side's 2-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
Speaking to the club's official website, the Welsh centre-back revealed the long-trips involved in the Europa League game in Croatia - as well as the match against Manchester City - had a part to play in the defeat, but were certainly no excuse.
The Toffees earned a Premier League point from their trip to Manchester City on Monday, before embarking on a near-3,000-mile round trip to Croatia, where they fought out a 1-1 draw with Hajduk Split on Thursday to seal a place in the Europa League group stage.
Their meeting with the defending Premier League champions at Stamford Bridge, then, represented Everton’s third outing in seven days. And despite a more adventurous second-half showing, Ronald Koeman’s side paid the price for conceding two first-half goals to Antonio Conte’s excellent side.
“It has been a busy week but that is not an excuse,” said Williams.
“We wanted to qualify for the Europa League - we knew it would be difficult. Thursday and Sunday games are tough physically. You do not ever want to concede a goal but to concede so close to half-time – which we did against Hajduk Split on Thursday as well – was disappointing.
“It was not a perfect performance at all – there is a lot we can improve on. But the pleasing thing was we did keep pushing when we have such had a busy week and we had a few good chances as well.”
Williams had one of Everton’s most presentable opportunities when he glanced a close-range header narrowly wide after being set up by Gylfi Sigurdsson’s left-wing cross. The 33-year-old also sent a speculative effort onto the roof of Chelsea’s net.
“We kept pushing right up until the end and looked strong,” said Williams. “It was a stretched game against a good side but we did create chances in the last 10 minutes.
“We had chances to get it back to 2-1 – if I had scored that header, then we might have got another one."