Chelsea will look to go into the international break level on points with fourth-placed Arsenal, as they gear up to take on Everton on Sunday evening.

Chelsea will be looking to close down the gap to the fourth spot in the Premier League table when they travel to Goodison Park this weekend to face off against Everton.

Chelsea are currently stationed in the sixth spot in the league standings, three points behind Arsenal who sit fourth and one below Manchester United in the fifth place. With the Gunners not in action this weekend and United contesting in the FA Cup quarter-final, Maurizio Sarri’s side have a great chance to move ahead of the Red Devils and level up with Arsenal with a win.

After a disappointing result last weekend, when they were held to a 1-1 draw by Wolves, Chelsea bounced back in style as they battered Dynamo Kyiv 5-0 in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday night, despite having rested a string of regular first-team players. With momentum on their side, they will be gunning for a win at Goodison on Sunday.

Everton find themselves in the 11th place on the table after a torrid run of games that has seen them win just one of their last six league outings (D1 L4). Last time they were in action, Marco Silva’s men threw away a two-goal advantage to lose 3-2 to Newcastle United. However, they can draw confidence from the fact that their last home game ended in a 0-0 draw against Liverpool.

The last time Chelsea and Everton had met, a goalless stalemate had ensued at Stamford Bridge. And the Toffees will be hoping to do one better this time out and bounce back strongly from their debacle at the St. James’ Park.

Team News & Tactics

Everton

On-loan Chelsea defener Kurt Zouma will not be available for selection for Everton against his parent club, while captain Phil Jagielka is ruled out with an injury. Leighton Baines, however, has returned to training and could be in contention to make the matchday squad on Sunday evening. Seamus Coleman is also in line to return, having missed the last game against Newcastle.

Jordan Pickford will continue between the sticks for Everton and look to put up a much better display than his horror show at the St. James’ Park last time out. Coleman should slot in at right-back, replacing Jonjoe Kenny while Lucas Digne should hold on to his spot on the left side. Michael Keane is likely to be paired with Yerry Mina at the heart of the defence with Zouma ruled out.

Idrissa Gueye will occupy one of the two pivot positions in the middle of the park for Everton. The second slot in the middle will be a toss-up between Andre Gomes and Morgan Schneiderlin, with the latter likely to get the nod in order to add more defensive steel to the team.

Theo Walcott should come back into the starting lineup on the right flank. The chief attacking threat will be carried by Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson, who are the joint highest goalscorers for Everton with 11 strikes each. Academy product Dominic Calvert-Lewin should get the nod as the lone striker for the Toffees against Chelsea.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Pickford; Coleman, Keane, Mina, Digne; Gueye, Schneiderlin; Walcott, Sigurdsson, Richarlison; Calvert-Lewin

Chelsea

Gonzalo Higuain did not travel for the European fixture with an illness, but will be available for selection on Sunday, but it remains to be seen if he is fit enough to start against Everton. Elsewhere, Davide Zappacosta came off injured on Thursday and is a doubt for the fixture.

Having fielded a much-changed side against Dynamo, Chelsea boss Sarri is expected to recall his regulars to the starting lineup at Goodison Park. Kepa Arrizabalaga will continue between the sticks for Chelsea, but there are going to be a few alterations in the four-man defence in front of him.

Cesar Azpilicueta is expected to return to the lineup at right-back, while David Luiz is also in line to start alongside Antonio Rudiger, at the expense of Andreas Christensen. Marcos Alonso had a splendid game in the midweek and is likely to be stuck with at left-back, ahead of Emerson Palmieri.

Jorginho will return at the base of the three-man midfield on Sunday with Mateo Kovacic making way, while N’Golo Kante will once again feature from the get-go. Ruben Loftus-Cheek had a solid game in Kiev, but Ross Barkley is likely to feature against his former club at the weekend.

With Higuain’s match-readiness in doubt, Olivier Giroud could be asked to continue to lead the line after his hat-trick against Dynamo Kyiv. Willian and Callum Hudson-Odoi, who started on Thursday, will drop out though, with Pedro and Eden Hazard set to take their places on the flanks.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso; Kante, Jorginho, Barkley; Pedro, Giroud, Hazard

Key Stats

  • The last two Premier League meetings between Everton and Chelsea have finished 0-0. Only four fixtures in the competition’s history have finished goalless in three consecutive games (Arsenal vs QPR, Aston Villa vs Manchester United, Charlton vs Middlesbrough and Coventry vs Sheffield Wednesday).
  • Everton have won just one of their last eight Premier League home games (D3 L4), while the Toffees haven’t beaten a ‘Big Six’ side in the league since January 2017 (4-0 v Manchester City), drawing seven and losing 18 since.
  • Chelsea have lost three of their last seven Premier League games (W3 D1), as many as they had in their first 22 this season (W14 D5 L3).
  • Everton are winless in their last six Premier League meetings with Chelsea (D3 L3), failing to score in each of the last five. They last failed to score in six consecutive league games against an opponent vs Southampton between 1972 and 1979 (a run of seven).
  • Chelsea are unbeaten in two away Premier League visits to Everton (W1 D1); they haven’t managed three without defeat since a run of eight between 2001 and 2008.

Player to Watch

Eden Hazard

Chelsea's key man (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Chelsea’s key man (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

The 28-year-old Belgian wing wizard is a subject of intense transfer speculation, as links with Real Madrid continue to persist. Latest reports even claimed that Chelsea were resigned to losing him in the summer, with a £100 million price-tag being mentioned.

Whatever the future holds for Hazard, he will have an integral role to play for Chelsea between now and the end of the season, if Chelsea are to finish in the top four. The Blues’ superstar has been directly involved in 48% of Chelsea’s 50 Premier League goals this season (13 goals, 11 assists) – the highest ratio in the division.

However, his record at Goodison Park makes for a poor reading. At no ground has Hazard played more Premier League games without scoring than he has at Goodison Park (6), level with Selhurst Park. After being rested for the midweek clash, the 28-year-old will need to end his mediocre record at the Toffees’ home ground if Chelsea are to come out on top.

Prediction

Everton 1-2 Chelsea

Everton have struggled to string together a good run of results throughout the season and have lacked any sort of consistency in their game. With just four points from their last six league outings, Marco Silva’s side are under pressure to turn things around and end the season on a strong note.

Chelsea, on the other hand, are playing catch-up in the race for the top four and need to make the most of their game in hand if they are to put themselves in a strong position going into the business end of the season. While their display against Wolves was far from convincing, they will be on a high after dismantling Dynamo Kyiv during the week.

Everton will set out to stifle the visitors and will target Eden Hazard in order to stem their creative threat in the final third. However, Chelsea should have enough in their tanks to see out the Toffees and pick up a crucial victory at Goodison Park on Sunday.

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