LONDON: Maurizio Sarri admitted that Chelsea paid the price for a slow start and a lack of murder instinct like Jordan Pickford's hero man earned Everton to 0-0 on Sunday.
Sarri's side recovered from a bad first half and rebuked the Everton goal after the break, but found Pickford unbeatable when England goalkeeper did a lot of good save.
Stamford Bridge at Stamford Bridge left Chelsea two points behind Liverpool, who beat Fulham earlier on Sunday.
It was a frustrating afternoon for Chelsea, which extended its unlucky start during Sarri to 18 matches in all competitions but could not make its territorial dominance.
"I did not like the first 25 minutes. We moved the ball very slowly, so it was impossible for us to be dangerous," said Sarri.
"I'm not happy of course. I do not know why we start slowly. That's a good question. I do not think it's a physical problem."
"In the second half we played with more speed and intensity. So maybe that's a mental problem."
"We can have some difficulty approaching the match from a mental point of view. It's hard to answer."
Frustrated by Chelsea's failure to take possession, Sarri said: "Usually, yes, we're sharp enough, but not in the last three games. As I said to my players, we created too few goals in relation to how much we played.
"At this moment, it may be a small problem. Three matches are a very short time."
"I think we played very well for 65 minutes, but we can do that better."
Sarri is the first new coach to avoid defeat in his opening 12 Premier League games, giving him sole possession of a milestone that he shared with Nottingham Forest's Frank Clark entering the weekend.
"I am very proud of it. I have to say thank you to my players and staff. Of course, I prefer three points than the record," says Sarri.
Accepting Chelsea will not find it easy to keep up with Liverpool and City, Sarri says: "At this moment, the average points for City and Liverpool are very high. It's very difficult to keep close to these teams."
It did not help, even though they scored twice against Crystal Palace this weekend, Álvaro Morata again fought to commit himself.
Chelsea finally threatened when Marcos Alonso's free kick blinked right next to it.
It took 39 minutes for Sarris's goal to score a shot as Alonso met Willian's high free kick with a thunderous volley that Pickford left.
Bernard was involved in a flare-up just before half-time, his head moved aggressively against Antonio Rüdiger after the Chelsea defender confronted him with his failed attempt to win a free kick.
Rüdiger seemed to make the most of minimal contact from Bernard and both players were booked by judge Kevin Friend.
It was one of several flash points in a bruise that saw Chelsea's Jorginho booked to tie in to Gylfi Sigurdsson.
"It was a tough match. I hope we will not lose Sigurdsson after thanking Jorginho," says Everton boss Marco Silva.
Eden Hazard tried to kick Chelsea in life immediately after the interval and drilled over an inviting cross as Morata scored goalkeeper, just for Pickford to make an excellent stop.
When Hazard made an excellent pass to Willian, the Brazilian seemed to break the deadlock, but he sent his shot into the thief.
He made his second start after returning from a back injury, and Hazard was much more lively in the second half and his striking run forced Pickford into an exciting rescue.
As he drove in the Everton defense, Hazard left when he shot off Yerry Mina, which forced Pickford to tip over the full stretch.
Only woodwork denied Chelsea when Alonso's low shot hit the longest post, while Hazard cut a shot narrowly wide as Blues frustration mounted.