Chelsea and Everton will be aiming to kickstart the 2022/23 Premier League season on a winning note when they lock horns at Goodison Park this weekend.
After two months of wait, the Premier League is back in action as the 2022/23 season got underway on Friday night, with Arsenal taking on Crystal Palace at Goodison Park. Over the weekend, some tasty fixtures are coming our way, one of which will take place at Goodison Park on Saturday evening with Everton playing hosts to Chelsea.
Everton just about survived the wrath of relegation last season, finishing in 16th place, four points clear of the drop zone. Manager Frank Lampard, who took over Rafael Benitez midway through the campaign, has now had enough time to imprint his ideas on the squad and fans will be expecting the team to perform well than they did last time out.
The pre-season preparations have not been ideal by any means for the Toffees as they lost their first two fixtures against Arsenal and MLS side Minnesota United. But back-to-back victories against Blackpool and Dynamo Kyiv should give Lampard and his team some confidence heading into this vital opening clash.
As for Chelsea, the summer has largely been dominated by their hit-and-miss transfer window. The Blues have been left frustrated by their inability to close deals, leading to several targets slipping out of their hands. But they have managed to sign a few players in recent days, which could ease some tension within the camp.
While Chelsea finished third last term, they were nearly 20 points behind the top two clubs and will be gunning to close down that gap. Much like Everton, though, Thomas Tuchel’s men have not been at their best in pre-season, losing to Charlotte FC and Arsenal, although they did their last pre-season friendly against Udinese.
Both teams will be keen on kicking the new season off with a victory, while Lampard will also be gunning to prove a point to his former employers. Ahead of this exciting match-up at Goodison Park, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.
Team News & Tactics
Attention to detail. pic.twitter.com/5NZ4zPe6kb
— Everton (@Everton) August 4, 2022
Everton will have to make do without star forward Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who is sidelined for more than a month after picking up a knee injury in training. Captain Seamus Coleman also misses out for the home team, along with Andros Townsend, Andre Gomes, Tom Davies and Salomon Rondon, with the latter suspended.
Yerry Mina and Asmir Begovic are available for selection after having recovered from their fitness problems. New signings James Tarkowski, Ruben Vinagre and Dwight McNeil are all fit and available for the game against Chelsea. Manager Frank Lampard could opt to field a three-man defensive line mirroring Chelsea’s setup while adding extra security at the back.
Thus, Tarkowski should line up alongside Ben Godfrey and Michael Keane in front of goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. Nathan Patterson and Vitaliy Mykolenko ought to be the two wing-backs on the right and left sides, respectively. The pair will be asked to push forward but will likely be in for a tough time against their Chelsea counterparts, Reece James and Ben Chilwell.
Abdoulaye Doucoure is a certainty in the centre of the park for Everton. He could be paired up alongside former Arsenal star Alex Iwobi, who has been used in a central role by Lampard since taking over. He will be tasked with providing the forward thrust from the middle of the park.
Anthony Gordon, who was one of the few positives for Everton last term, will be the main man in attack starting on the right flank while new signing McNeil should slot in on the opposite wing. With Calvert-Lewin injured and Rondon suspended, Demarai Gray could be asked to lead the line for the Toffees.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Pickford; Godfrey, Tarkowski, Keane; Patterson, Doucoure, Iwobi, Mykolenko; Gordon, Gray, McNeil
Chelsea are sweating over the fitness of forwards Timo Werner and Armando Broja. Apart from that, there are no major injury concerns for Thomas Tuchel to contend with. However, the game will come too soon for new signings Carney Chukwuemeka and Marc Cucurella, with the latter completing a transfer only on Friday. Raheem Sterling and Kalidou Koulibaly, however, should be in line for their full debuts.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) August 5, 2022
Tuchel is expected to continue with his tried and tested 3-4-2-1 setup, although he needs to find a way to get his team firing on all cylinders in the final third of the pitch. Edouard Mendy is the undisputed starter between the sticks for Chelsea, where he will be shielded by the three-man backline comprising Cesar Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva and Kalidou Koulibaly.
There is no looking past Reece James and Ben Chilwell for the wing-back slots, with the duo likely to be among the key attacking outlets for Chelsea against Everton. N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic should hold the fort in the middle of the park and look to provide a solid platform for the attacking players to do their job.
Mason Mount will be a crucial player for Chelsea with his ability to score and create goals. He will likely be partnered by new signing Raheem Sterling in the two wide attacking midfield positions, with Kai Havertz expected to operate as the No. 9.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Mendy; Azpilicueta, Silva, Koulibaly; James, Kante, Kovacic, Chilwell; Mount, Sterling; Havertz
- Everton have won each of their previous four Premier League home games against Chelsea. It is their best run in this league fixture since winning seven on the bounce between 1923 and 1935.
- Chelsea have won only three of their last 14 Premier League visits to Goodison Park (D2, L9).
- Everton are unbeaten in their opening Premier League match in the last 10 seasons (W4, D6), the longest ongoing run in the top flight.
- Chelsea conceded 11 Premier League away goals last season, a joint-league low alongside Manchester City.
- Chelsea were top of the Premier League table after 14 matches of last season, one point ahead of Manchester City and two points clear of Liverpool. The Blues went on to finish third, 19 points behind the Citizens and 18 points adrift of the Reds.
Player to Watch
Raheem Sterling opened his Chelsea account with a goal against Udinese 🔓 pic.twitter.com/X0yHP2qqIB
— B/R Football (@brfootball) July 29, 2022
Having achieved great success during his time at Manchester City, Raheem Sterling opted to take up a fresh challenge in his career this summer by joining Chelsea. The England international cost the Blues around £47.5 million, which could be considered a bargain for a player of his quality, experience and proven pedigree.
The former Liverpool ace will be intent on hitting the ground running and showing the Chelsea fans what he is all about on his competitive debut on Saturday. Interestingly, Sterling is one of ten players to have scored a hat-trick on the opening weekend of a Premier League campaign, doing so against West Ham in 2019/20. Another such start would instantly make him a hit among the Blues’ faithful.
Everton 0-1 Chelsea
Everton will be backed to the hilt by a vociferous Goodison Park crowd on Saturday, but there is no denying that problems exist within Frank Lampard’s squad. With Calvert-Lewin and Rondon unavailable and Richarlison no longer part of the team, the Toffees lack a genuine source of goals up top, which will be a concern.
Meanwhile, Chelsea have their own problems and have had some issues preparing for the new season. But, on paper, they have a superior squad with better players in all areas of the pitch. And should they perform up to their potential, three points ought to be in the bag for Thomas Tuchel & co.