Nottingham Forest produced a gutsy display to hold Chelsea in a 1-1 draw at the City Ground, with the Blues now failing to win their opening league fixture of a calendar year since 2016.
Disappointing Chelsea lucky to escape with draw against Nottingham Forest
Chelsea began their 2023 by dropping points to struggling Nottingham Forest in a disappointing 1-1 draw
Nottingham Forest vs Chelsea first half
Nottingham Forest began the game on the front foot and it became clear that they had a plan to absorb the Chelsea pressure and hit them on the counter-attack.
Morgan Gibbs-White threaded a pass towards Brennan Johnson, who saw both his efforts saved by Kepa Arrizabalaga. Johnson then turned provider for Gibbs-White, whose strike was blocked by Cesar Azpilicueta.
However, it was the away side that broke the deadlock in fortuitous fashion, as Willy Boly inadvertently diverted a Christian Pulisic cross onto the crossbar with his attempted back-heeled clearance, and Raheem Sterling fired in the rebound to put Chelsa 1-0 up.
Forest looked more than up for the fight against their more accomplished visitors, and backed by a vociferous crowd, they went into the halftime break hopeful of a comeback.
Nottingham Forest vs Chelsea second half
The Blues looked nervous following the restart, and Kepa was forced to deny Taiwo Awoniyi after the Nigerian was played through on goal by Remo Freuler. Gibbs-White then picked out Johnson, and Kepa was called into action once again to keep out his angled drive.
Forest continued to push and Morgan Gibbs-White rattled the crossbar with a stinging effort to rouse the home fans.
A deserved equaliser came just past the hour mark from a Gibbs-White corner courtesy of Serge Aurier, who was composed in the box to chest the ball down and power a brilliant volley past Kepa.
Both teams tried to go for the winner but Chelsea will be relieved to leave with a point after such a poor showing and they remain eighth in the Premier League table.