Stamford Bridge, London

October 15, 2011; 16:30 GMT


To emphasise the importance of our game, Everton is looking for the sixth game unbeaten coming to the Bridge. We have to be alert and it is going to be a hard battle.“, Andre Villas-Boas expressed ahead of Everton’s visit to Stamford Bridge. The game is all the more important because Manchester United are due at Anfield – a ground where they haven’t enjoyed success in the recent past, and Chelsea will look to close the gap with them at the top. However, they face a stern test in the form of Everton, who have just refused to give up at Stamford Bridge in the last five seasons. In the last match between the two sides at Goodison Park, Everton defeated Chelsea 1-0 and paved a way for Carlo Ancelotti’s much-publicized ouster.

Chelsea have begin the season well, with 7 wins and 2 draws in 10 games in all competition, before the international break appeared to somewhat dampen the atmosphere at The Bridge. At the Reebok, in the last game before the break, Chelsea had scored five goals past a struggling Bolton, with much-criticized Frank Lampard scoring a hat-trick. On the other hand, Everton were left with a bitter taste in their mouth after losing the Merseyside Derby, as they were harshly reduced to 10-men with Jack Rodwell being unfairly sent off. However, the FA appeal panel has overturned Jack Rodwell’s red cardA�and he won’t be serving the three-match ban, bringing some respite to David Moyes.

Team News and Tactical Brief

Chelsea FC

All Chelsea players have returned from national duty, unscathed. This is definitely good news for the club and Villas-Boas, in particular, who still has Fernando Torres serving a three-match suspension. Only Hilario and Essien remain on the treatment table, as the rest of the team is available for selection this weekend.

Over the years, there’s a definite reason why Everton have done well against Chelsea, even away from home, while having a poor record against Man United. Matches between Chelsea and Everton have been very tight, and often result in a tactical deadlock in the center of the park. Chelsea’s play has been very narrow, with no real width – a system Everton are comfortable dealing with. The midfielders have cancelled out one another, and Everton have more often than not won the battle on the flanks – especially on Chelsea’s right wing, which has been marshaled by players who haven’t really stretched Leighton Baines.

However, Mata’s skill on the left, Sturridge’s directness on the right, backed by Bosignwa’s attacking instincts, make this Chelsea team different than its predecessors. Also, the clever movement and passing game of Meireles, Ramires and Lampard in the middle will not be as easy for Fellaini and Co. to counter, as it has been for them in the past. Traditionally, Terry hasn’t had the best of times against Luis Saha and the captain will have to be on his toes come Saturday, especially considering the high back-line of the Chelsea defense. Luiz’s pace and attacking threat may just see him get the nod ahead of Ivanovic for this game.

Probable Starting Line-up (4-3-3): Cech(GK); Bosignwa, Luiz, Terry, Cole; Meireles, Ramires, Lampard; Mata, Sturridge, Drogba

Everton FC

Tim Cahill, who has done well in this Battle of the Blues in the past, remains doubtful for the trip to London after withdrawing from the Australian team last week. While, Dutch defender John Heitinga may miss the clash because of a knee injury which kept him out of international duty during the break. Victor Anichebe remains the only long-term casualty for David Moyes, who has been boosted by the availability of Jack Rodwell.

Everton are expected to line up in a 4-4-1-1 formation with Tim Cahill, if he’s declared fit, playing off Luis Saha. Fallaini and Rodwell will take their positions in the center of midfield, while Osman and Coleman will start from the flanks and support the offensive line. All eyes will be on Baines and his mouth-watering clash against Sturridge, and more importantly against Bosignwa. The English left-back scored in last season’s FA Cup against Chelsea, when Everton knocked them out, and will look to push the Portuguese back in his own half and aid his forwards by delivering quality balls.

The odd record that Chelsea have against Everton will give the visitors confidence to spoil the party yet again, and rise in the table. The Merseyside club are presently 13th in the league with a game in hand, and will look to prove that they can do well despite losing players and struggling financially.

Probable Starting Line-up (4-4-1-1): Howard(GK); Hibbert, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Rodwell, Fellaini, Osman, Coleman; Cahill; Saha

Key Facts

  1. Chelsea have won only one of the last nine Premier League meetings with Everton, drawing six of the remaining eight encounters.
  2. No team in the Premier League has conceded fewer shots on target than Chelsea (25).
  3. Frank LampardA�has scored four goals from just five shots on target in the Premier League this season, whileA�Tim Howard has only conceded two goals from the last seven penalties faced, making four saves. Both the records can be simultaneous tested by just one penalty for Chelsea in this game!
  4. Didier Drogba has scored seven goals in his last nine Premier League matches against Everton.

Stats courtesy Opta and Yahoo! Sport.A�


Juan Mata (Chelsea)


Mata of time before Chelsea set the record straight against Everton?


Chelsea don’t have a good record in this fixture. Everton are defensively well set-up and have traditionally looked to choke Chelsea in midfield. Step up, Juan Mata. This is exactly the kind of match the Spaniard was signed for. He has the ability to unlock teams with a moment of pure magic; his movement across the final third may just turn this match in the home team’s favor. He is also in decent goal-scoring form, having scored for Spain in Euro Qualifiers.

TheHardTackle’s PREDICTION

Chelsea 1-0 Everton

Although Chelsea have failed to get the better of Everton in the recent past, three points this weekend are worth their weight in gold and this may just lead to an inspired show from the home team.


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