Chelsea face Everton on Sunday at Stamford Bridge with questions over potential arrivals and Antonio Conte’s immediate future.
In the last gameweek before the first international break of the season, both teams will hope to go into it with momentum on their side. The pressure, however, is most definitely on the manager in the home dugout.
Everton currently sit above Chelsea at this nascent stage of the season, and one thing is for sure — they have momentum on their side. Following on from a positive result away at Manchester City, the Toffees’ tails will certainly be up.
A resurgent Wayne Rooney, fresh off announcing his international retirement, will be charged up for this. His aim, he said in his farewell message, was to help Everton do well in the league and in Europe. A warning to other teams that he will be well-rested and ready throughout the season.
Chelsea, meanwhile, also come off the back of a win at Wembley, but they will know they were definitely the second-best team that day. A lot of negativity has been felt around Stamford Bridge lately despite spending more than £120 million on Tiemoue Bakayoko and Alvaro Morata.
Antonio Conte has been making noises about “fighting” with what they have, which clearly indicates something is not right between him and the board with regards to transfers. They will have to put all that aside come Sunday as a resurgent Everton side led by the tactically astute Ronald Koeman come marching in to Stamford Bridge.
Team news and tactics
The home side will have Cesc Fabregas available after suspension, which will be a major boost for manager Conte. Gary Cahill remains suspended for his straight red against Burnley while all the others, barring a few niggles here and there, are available for selection. It will be a toss-up between Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger as to who replaces the skipper for this match.
As compared to a 3-5-2 last weekend, the Italian would be expected to stick to his favoured 3-4-3 formation with Fabregas slotting besides N’Golo Kante in midfield. Bakayoko made an impressive debut last weekend, but could drop to the bench for this one given he played the full 90 minutes against Spurs. David Luiz, who played in defensive midfield in that game, will resume his familiar center-back role.
After Marcos Alonso, the player that impressed most against Spurs was Willian. He would once again be expected to start on the right-wing, with Pedro on the opposite flank. The man leading the line would be Morata, having provided a goal and an assist in the last home game.
Chelsea will play with their usual flair going forward, relying on the burst of pace of Willian and Pedro, while Fabregas picks players out with his passing from the deep. Kante will be expected to sit back and defend and make it tough for the Everton midfield to string passes together.
Probable lineup (3-4-3): Courtois (GK), Azpilicueta, Luiz, Christensen; Alonso, Kante, Fabregas, Moses; Pedro, Morata, Willian
Ross Barkley remains unavailable through injury, with speculation surrounding his future refusing to go away. Morgan Schneiderlin is suspended after he picked up a red card against City. Davy Klaassen and Sandro Ramirez might only be fit enough to start from the bench.
The Toffees would be expected to line up in a 3-5-2 formation, with the impressive Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Rooney as the focal points of the attack. Gylfi Sigurdsson, who scored a screamer in their Europa League qualifier on Thursday, could get his first Premier League start in Everton blue.
The absence of Schneiderlin in midfield might pose a problem while defending Chelsea’s fast counter-attacks. However, in Idrissa Gueye, they have a capable enough defensive midfielder to combat Kante on the day. 19-year-old Tom Davies can also act as a shield to his 3-man defence.
Probable lineup (3-5-2): Pickford (GK), Williams, Keane, Jagielka; Baines, Sigurdsson, Davies, Gueye, Holgate; Calvert-Lewin, Rooney
Players to watch out for
Wayne Rooney (Everton)
After hanging up his England boots, the record-scorer has made it clear that his focus now is Everton. That will be the best news Toffees have heard this season, as they can expect him to be fit and ready for the league. 2 goals in his last 2 games, one of them against familiar foes City, would have certainly boosted his confidence.
- Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 23 meetings with Everton at Stamford Bridge
- Everton have failed to win their last 9 Premier League fixtures
- Chelsea have won 7 out of their last 8 Premier League matches
- Chelsea have scored at least 2 goals in their last 6 home matches
1. Over 4.5 Cards @ 2.20
2. Everton Asian Handicap +1.0 @ 2.075
1. Everton Draw No Bet @ 5.50
2. Full Time Result – Draw @ 4.50
Chelsea 1-1 Everton
Given the form Everton are in, and coming off the back of a good performance against City, they will come into this match with confidence. And with Chelsea’s confidence being low having been beaten by Burnley at home, the Toffees should look to exploit this.
The Hard Tackle thinks this will be an interesting match, with lots of attack and possession dominated by the home side. Amidst the pressure of the home fans, it will be difficult to live up to their high expectations. Having said that, they are champions for a reason, and will look to end all negativity with a powerful performance on the day.