Chelsea dropped more points in its quest to climb back up the Premier League standings as Serge Aurier earned Nottingham Forest a 1-1 draw with Graham Potter’s side on Sunday.
Fresh from its first league win in six games last time out against Bournemouth, Chelsea started well in the Nottingham drizzle, with Raheem Sterling firing the side into the lead in the 16th minute with his first league goal since August.
Forest improved after the break and was unlucky not to equalise early in the second half as Morgan Gibbs-White’s drilled half volley hit the underside of the crossbar but bounced on the goal line and away.
The host kept coming and deservedly levelled things up as Aurier slotted home his first goal for his new club in the 63rd minute, with Forest looking the more likely winner thereon.
It could not complete the turnaround, however, with Chelsea hanging on for a point that leaves it eighth in the standings, seven points behind Manchester United in fourth.
The host remains in the relegation zone but climbed to 18th, level on 14 points with West Ham United above it.
“I think overall when the game was controlled in the first half, I don’t think we did well enough. Our performance level wasn’t good enough, didn’t move the ball fast enough,” Potter said.
“They use their advantages which is the environment, the crowd. The second half we didn’t control it well enough.”
Chelsea needed the reset that the World Cup gave the side, given it had gone on its longest league run without a win, five, in 10 years prior to the tournament.
It appeared it had turned the corner after the Bournemouth win and its impressive start at the City Ground. It nearly broke the deadlock in just the second minute as Mason Mount fired over from a good position.
The visitor went one better through Sterling after Christian Pulisic’s cross had looped onto the crossbar and the England forward hammered home the rebound.
Chelsea continued to remain in control until the break, with Pulisic wasting a good chance to make it two just before the interval, firing straight at home goalkeeper Dean Henderson.
Brennan Johnson saw one first half effort saved, but missed an even more gilt-edged opportunity early in the second period, firing too close to Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga from a good position.
Gibbs-White was causing Chelsea all kinds of problems, firing against the crossbar before playing a big part in Aurier’s equaliser, curling over a corner the visitor could not clear and former Tottenham Hotspur full back pounced.
Chelsea substitute Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang should have done better with a late header, but it would have been harsh on the home side, which more than warranted at least a point from the contest.
“I know we didn’t win today but it was a good reference point that we can play against the big teams in the league,” Forest coach Steve Cooper said. “We’re in control of our destiny and we have to keep building.”