Chelsea take on Everton tonight and will want to win the game to maintain the healthy seven-point lead at the top.
The last time these two sides faced each other, the game produced nine goals as Chelsea won 6-3 at Goodison Park. Diego Costa started the goal fest after scoring in the first minute and finished it after the finding the net again in the 90th minute. This time, however, with Chelsea missing their star striker and with Everton just recovering from a run of poor results, we could see a much calmer game.
Lineups and Tactics
The Blues are expected to go with almost the same lineup that they went with against Aston Villa in the weekend. Mourinho could make a couple. Cesc Fabregas’ return to fitness means that he’ll start alongside Nemanja Matic in front of the midfield. Fabregas’ absence has been felt by Chelsea in the last two games as they have lacked that calmness and precise passes in midfield. Fabregas is usually a good source for Chelsea to play those killer passes from midfield and with Loic Remy expected to start, the Everton back four will definitely be stretched. Didier Drogba started the last game, so Remy could get his chance again tonight after impressing in the game against Manchester City. His pace will test the Everton backline as he likes to make those runs in and around the defenders and Fabregas’ passing ability will be key in unlocking that.
Jose Mourinho is expected to go with a 4-2-3-1 formation with Matic and Fabregas occupying the deeper roles. The trio of Eden Hazard, Oscar and Willian are expected to start. New signing Juan Cuadrado made a cameo appearance against Aston Villa and could once again come off the bench later in the game. In defense, John Terry and Gary Cahill could start. Both of them will have to be on their toes as Romelu Lukaku will have a point to prove after leaving Chelsea for Everton in the summer. Nemanja Matic could once again play a crucial role for Chelsea if their opponents start with Ross Barkley as the youngster can trouble any defense with his pace and drive from midfield.
Probable XI: Courtois; Azpilicueta, Terry, Cahill, Ivanovic; Fabregas, Matic; Hazard, Oscar, Willian; Remy
Everton boss Roberto Martinez was under a bit of criticism for going with a defensive approach in the derby against Liverpool. Against Chelsea, we can expect pretty much the same once again. The toffees will be without Leighton Baines who is battling a knee problem and although Roberto Martinez did not rule him out, it unlikely that he’ll be risked against Chelsea. The back four of Coleman, Stones, Jagielka and Oviedo have done well in the last four games as Everton are unbeaten in their last four. They have forged a decent partnership with each other but will have to be at their best against the quality that Chelsea possess up front. Coleman against Hazard will be an intriguing battle as Coleman is one of the best fullbacks in the country and Hazard is most definitely the best attacker in that position. Goalkeeper Tim Howard is expected to return against Chelsea after missing the last few months due to a calf injury.
John Stones and Jagielka had a good game against Liverpool and will have to be aware of Remy’s pace that could outstretch the defense. Gareth Barry’s presence in front of the defense was key for them against Liverpool as he neutralized Coutinho’s threat well and will have to do well again if Everton are to come from Stamford-Bridge with something.Muhamed Besic could be asked to play alongside Barry in a double pivot to counter Fabregas and Oscar.
In attack, Kevin Mirallas, Ross Barkley and Aaron Lennon will be expected to test Chelsea with their pace. The trio haven’t had a good season thus far as Barkley and Lennon have rarely got game time. Lennon was subsequently loaned to Everton and after a dull debut against Liverpool, the winger will want to prove himself. The trio have what it takes to trouble any defense, but will be up against one that has conceded very few. Romelu Lukaku will lead the line and after having scored just Seven times in 24 appearances this season, he’ll be itching to put one past his former employers.
- Everton have lost four out of their last five away games.
- Chelsea beat Everton the last time these two side faced other at Stamford Bridge thanks to a Frank Lampard goal.
- Steven Naismith has scored in three of his last four Premier League appearances against Chelsea and could play a part at some point in the game.
- Chelsea have won 55 games against Everton. The toffees have won 49 against Chelsea.
Chelsea’s attack looks too strong for Everton who have been terrible away from home. Although it won’t be a rip-roaring game like last time, the game could still be an entertaining one with Chelsea coming out on top once again.
Fulltime-score: Chelsea 3-1 Everton