Goodison park, Liverpool
September 14, 2013; 17:30 GMT
Romelu Lukaku’s loan move to Everton on Transfer deadline day raised many an eyebrow, particularly among the Chelsea faithful who were pinning great hopes on the Belgian for the coming season. Subsequently, the eyebrows were raised a little further when Lukaku was quoted as saying that he would be rooting for the Blues of Merseyside over those of south-west London when the Premier League resumes after the ceremonially asphyxiating International break. And while the 20-year old would not be a part of proceedings on Saturday, Everton and Chelsea will be slugging it out on the pitch in what has regularly proved to be a tricky fixture for the latter down the years.
It was therefore rather ironic that Chelsea’s first victory over Everton at Goodison Park in a long time came under former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez, much maligned at both clubs for the similar affiliations. Frank Lampard played no small part as his two goals won the game for Chelsea in an exciting clash, a result which also saw the chorus for his contract extension grow ever stronger. Things have changed since; Frank Lampard has got his contract extension after all while the Everton faithful adjust to life under Roberto Martinez. David Moyes and Marouane Fellaini both have departed for pastures green.
Unlike their counterparts, the Chelsea camp are an assured and a happy one; due no small credit to the arrival of Jose Mourinho. The Portuguese’s second coming has been an exciting journey for the Chelsea faithful so far and the performances on the pitch have largely complemented the excitement off it. Amid such fanfare, the expectations are decidedly sky-high. But for once everyone in and around King’s road, including a rather jumpy Russian and a grumpy, but endearing, Portuguese are all looking to settle down for the long run.
Team News, Tactics & Lineups
Everton are yet to find their footing under manager Roberto Martinez, after three successive draws sees them sitting 15th in the table. Performances, however, seemed to improve in the exciting 2-2 draw that was played out against Norwich City, after two rather uninspiring draws against West Brom and new boys Cardiff.
Going into the game, Martinez has a few injury concerns he will need to wriggle around. Darron Gibson and Antolin Alcaraz have been deemed unfit, and while Jame McCarthy and Seamus Coleman are doubtful to start, the duo is expected to shake off the knocks picked up on international duty. Romelu Lukaku will be ineligible to play against his parent club and the absence of the ‘larger than a fridge’ Belgian will be a relief to Chelsea’s defensive line.
Roberto Martinez has fiddled with his formations at Everton so far but he is likely to go with a 4-2-3-1 formation for the fixture. Tim Howard in goal will be assisted by a backline featuring Coleman, Phil Jagielka, Sylvain Distin and Leighton Baines. Everton will be counting on Jagielka, who along with Chelsea’s Gary Cahill was one of the better performers during England’s dreary draw against Ukraine.
The midfield pivot will be held by new arrival Gareth Barry, who will fill in for Man United joinee Fellaini and will be partnered by Leon Osman. It would be a massive task for Barry to fill in those shoes, and he could be the difference between a n even battle or Chelsea simply managing to run through Everton’s midfield. In the attacking trio, Steven Pienaar and Kevin Mirallas will feature on the flanks, providing the width that has so often proved Chelsea’s Achilles heel, with academy graduate Ross Barkley playing in the hole behind striker Nikica Jelavic.
Probable Starting Lineup (4-2-3-1): Howard(GK); Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Osman, Barry; Mirallas, Barkley, Pienaar; Jelavic
The dreaded International break brought its fair share of trouble for Chelsea as Eden Hazard and Oscar both picked up knocks. Apart from them, Jose Mourinho gets to choose from a full strength squad, although he is not likely to make too many changes to the team that has picked up seven out of a possible nine points so far. With one of either hazard or Oscar looking likely to miss out on the starting berth, Juan Mata might finally get his chance under Jose Mourinho. The Spaniard, who has been Chelsea’s best player in the Premier League last season by a fine Essex country mile, has been MIA in the Jose regime, but will probably need only a single opportunity to remind everyone of his true potential.
Mourinho will continue to field a 4-2-3-1 formation which already looks likely to be the most deployed formation for the season ahead. Petr Cech in goal will be assisted by a back-four of Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill, John Terry (who will be making a return after starting on the bench against Bayern Munich) and Ashley Cole.
Ramires and Frank Lampard will form the midfield pivot. The Englishman has reasserted his significance under Mourinho (he also gained his 100th cap for England during the week) and is likely to continue to feature. His forward excursions might be a little curtailed this time around though, as Juan Mata is likely to start, and the Spaniard is not the best at tracking back. Unlike Oscar who manages this well, earning him points in Jose’s books.
The attacking trio will feature Andre Schurrle, Mata and Eden Hazard. Jose will expect his wingers to track back and assist the full-backs, hence Schurrle being a better choice over someone like De Bruyne. Willian and Eto’o will have to wait for their chances, as Fernando Torres will make the cut for the role of centre-forward. Nothing better than letting lose a former Liverpudlian against venom-spewing Evertonians.
Probable Starting Lineup (4-2-3-1): Cech(GK); Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Cole; Ramires, Lampard; Schurrle, Mata, Hazard; Torres
- Everton have kept a clean sheet in their last 6 home matches in the Premier League.
- Chelsea are undefeated in 31 of their last 34 matches against Everton in all competitions.
- Chelsea’s win here at Goodsion Park last season was their first in 5 attempts in the Premier League; they had only scored once in their previous 4 visits.
- Chelsea are undefeated in their last 11 matches in the Premier League.
Player to watch out for
Juan Mata may finally manage a look-in when Chelsea take on Everton. The Spaniard has been a surprise exclusion from the starting XI, with ‘injury’ being portrayed as the reason for his absence so far. To be fair on them, Oscar and Hazard have been in tremendous form this season. Nevertheless, Mata deserves a chance to prove himself and if he gets that chance on Saturday, he will undeniably be the centre of all attention.
Everton 1-2 Chelsea
A similar scoreline to the last meeting between the clubs is the likely outcome, although a hard fought and dreary fixture instead of an exciting one is on the cards. The international break has its way of disrupting the flow of things, and this game will be more about Chelsea and Everton getting hold of their faculties again. However, with Mourinho at the helm and Martinez’s relative inexperience, Chelsea can be expected to walk away with all three points from a very tricky fixture.