André Villas-Boas left looking down both barrels after Everton defeat

• Chelsea slump has Roman Abramovich's finger on the trigger
• David Moyes loan signings put plodding Chelsea stars in shade

History informs us that the only patience Roman Abramovich knows is a card game in which he holds the aces, and André Villas-Boas wore a hangdog look reminiscent of one of his predecessors after what he admitted was Chelsea's worst performance of an increasingly disappointing season.

"AVB", as he is called (does anybody remember Peter Rhoades-Brown being known by his initials?) took full responsibility for his team's latest damaging result in which the haves were decisively beaten by the have-nots, and the admission of culpability will do him few favours with a trigger-happy owner who has appointed seven managers in the past eight years.

It has been suggested that this is a transitional season, during and after which the old guard will be changed, but Abramovich still expects Champions League football again and, without a win in their past four games, Chelsea have slipped out of the top four and are vulnerable to Arsenal's timely revival. Morale and defensive resilience were both conspicuous by their absence on Saturday, and although he may not be everybody's cup of Earl Grey, they need John Terry back ASAP.

They were second best throughout against resurgent Everton whose manager, David Moyes, continues to defy logic by making bricks without straw. Working with a budget that belongs in the Championship, Moyes is performing a miracle at Goodison where, over 10 years, his average finish is eighth. He has worked the oracle again, refreshing and strengthening a homespun team through astute use of the loan transfer system. Borrowing Steven Pienaar, man of the match on Saturday, back from Tottenham has the look of a masterstroke, and where were all those managers desperate for a striker when, albeit temporarily, Everton signed Denis Stracqualursi, the leading scorer in Argentina last season?

These two and Landon Donovan, from LA Galaxy, were instrumental in undoing flat, plodding Chelsea, who have won two of their past 11 league matches against Everton. The problem, of course, is that all three loan signings will return to their permanent employers, Donovan as early as next week, and it is the lack of financial muscle needed to keep them that makes Moyes open to offers from more affluent clubs, such as Spurs in the event of Harry Redknapp taking the England job.

It is with this possibility in mind that Everton plan to extend his contract, which expires next year, at the earliest opportunity. Bill Kenwright, Sir Philip Carter and company will need no reminding that in their previous home game Moyes plotted the downfall of the biggest spenders of them all, Manchester City, and that they would be hard pressed to find another master of the alchemist's art.

Chelsea's sudden loss of form and confidence is personified by Fernando Torres, who looks incapable of scoring ever again. Class, we are assured, is permanent, but it is starting to look finite in the case of the £50m Spaniard, who has scored two goals in his past 20 Premier League appearances. On Saturday he made Andy Carroll look like Jimmy Greaves, and Villas-Boas's failure to remedy that situation will be of major concern in the boardroom, or on the Abramovich gin palace – wherever such things are weighed.

The young manager (is he sporting that beard to appear more mature?) is open to accusations of intransigence over his insistence that players must always fit into his preferred formation, rather than the other way around. If he cannot find a better set-up to suit Torres, then it is clearly time to pull him out of the firing line and to give Daniel Sturridge the central striking role he covets. The manager has a week to ponder his choices before a tricky FA Cup tie against the Championship's form team, Birmingham City. Everton are at home to Blackpool and must be strongly fancied for a place in the quarter-finals.

The last word could go to Chelsea's travelling fans, who assailed Villas-Boas with disgruntled choruses of "You don't know what you're doing". Instead, it rightfully belongs with Moyes, who said: "It's interesting that over my time here I've had seven different Chelsea managers in opposition, all vastly experienced and excellent in their own right, but having continuity and stability at a club does pay dividends."

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