By, Ayodeji Itasanmi (Twitter: @aryhorblueblood)
Stamford Bridge/August 27, 2017
The big matches keep coming for Chelsea. After our sweet victory over Spurs last Sunday (it was my personal favourite), Roland Koeman brings his Everton team to Stamford Bridge for what is going to be another explosive encounter. This match did not play out for the visitors last season as they were on the wrong end of a 5-0 bashing thanks to a complete team performance from the home side.
Everton have not lost more times against any team in the Premier League era as much as they have lost against Chelsea, nor have they conceded more goals against any other team as much as they have let in against Chelsea, but history will be thrown out the window as soon as this match kicks off. Everton have not walked away from Stamford Bridge with all three points since 1994 but they will be thinking this is as good a time as any for them to finally beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Their best chance at three points was snatched away by John Terry’s late, late equalizer during the silly season that was the 2015/2016 Premier League season. Of the 50 Premiership matches between Chelsea and Everton, the Merseysiders have only won 9 of those (L24 D17). In the last six Premier League matches between these two, Chelsea has scored 19 goals on the average of 3.16 and have ended up winning four of those (L1 D1). One thing that’s been a constant, especially in recent seasons, is that there will be goals in this one with both this teams sharing 28 goals between them in the last six matches. I can’t wait for this match to kick off!
Antonio Conte and his squad for sure will still be buzzing following that sweet victory against Tottenham at Wembley last Sunday but respite won’t come until after this weekend’s round of fixtures. So, Conte and the team will be perfecting strategies on how to neutralize the Roland Koeman-led Everton team come Sunday this time at Stamford Bridge. Conte certainly got his tactics spot on against Tottenham opting to set his team up in a 3-5-1-1 formation as against the popular 3-4-3 formation. David Luiz moved into a midfield position in front of the back three to neutralize the threat posed by the duo of Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen behind Harry Kane, and it worked to perfection with both N’Golo Kante and debutant Tiemoue Bakayoko keeping Victor Wanyama and Moussa Dembele busy. With Fabregas now available after serving his mandatory one-match suspension for his red card against Burnley, I suspect David Luiz will revert to his defensive duties while Cesc takes his place in central midfield should Conte choose to continue with the same formation as against Spurs. Alternatively, if he chooses to revert back to the 3-4-3 formation it will be interesting to see who gives way between Bakayoko and Fabregas because in my opinion we need them both against what is sure to be a rampaging Everton team. This match might still come a bit too soon for Eden Hazard but both Willian and Pedro have been able deputies so far. Morata did have a good game at Wembley if you take away that missed header from point blank range very early in the game and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he’s chosen to lead the line against Everton ahead of Batshuayi whether in a 3-5-1-1 or 3-4-3 formation. I don’t know why we’re still in the market for a centre half because judging by his showing against Spurs I think Andreas Christensen is ready to play for this team and therefore should stay with the team, something that won’t be possible if we’re to welcome another centre defender before the window shuts.
Last Five Matches: WLDLW
Injuries: Eden Hazard (Ankle) – Out; Gary Cahill (Suspended)-Out
Roland Koeman has certainly been busy in the transfer window shaping up his team to his taste and he has to be happy with the way they have started the season with four points from their first two games against Stoke and Man City. In the corresponding fixture last season, Koeman tried out a 5-3-2 formation for the very first time and it back fired pretty bad with his team losing by a whopping 5-0 scoreline, but he seems to have drilled that formation into his squad during preseason as they executed it to perfection against City on Monday. Playing with three central defenders and two full backs looks like a formation you would use if you’re playing for a draw and they got it against City but they also lost Morgan Shneiderlin, who’s the one that holds the midfield together, to suspension, hence Koeman might be having a rethink or he might just see it as an opportunity to unleash his record signing, Gylfi Sigurdsson or Davy Klassen from the start. Dominic Calvert-Lewin should continue to partner Wayne Rooney in attack at least until Sandro Ramirez gets back from injury.
Last 5 matches: DWDWW
Injuries: Seamus Coleman (Broken Leg) – Out; James McCarthy (Hamstring) –Out; Yannick Bolasie (Knee) –Out; Ramiro Funes Mori (Knee) –Out; Morgan Schneiderlin (Suspended) –Out
David Luiz vs. Wayne Rooney
Following his big retirement announcement earlier this week Wayne Rooney will be able to devote all his energy to club football and should be up for this one especially considering his record at Stamford Bridge, and the fact that he’s got both Everton goals so far this season. I know he is out to prove his doubters wrong but so is David Luiz who knows not to give Rooney any breathing space or it might spell doom.
Victor Moses vs. Dominic Calvert-Lewin
Calvert-Lewin surely played his part in ensuring Everton left the Etihad Stadium with something by getting Kyle Walker sent off in the first half of their encounter on Monday and might be looking to do the same with Victor Moses. The Nigerian for sure will be aware of Calvert-Lewin’s tricks and might also get some help from Azpilicueta in nullifying the threat posed by the Everton academy graduate.
N’Golo Kante vs. Idrissa Gueye
The last time we faced off against Everton earlier this year in April, Gueye was given a specific assignment which was to man-mark Eden Hazard, but with Hazard potentially out of this fixture due to injury I expect this to be a midfield collision between these two diminutive but combative midfielders come Sunday.
Ronald Koeman will be looking to get one over Antonio Conte after losing both games against the Italian last season, but that has become a difficult task with the way Chelsea started the season. With the first international break of the season following this weekend’s matches I expect Eden Hazard to sit this one out to enable him ample time to get himself into shape to begin his season when we’re next in action against Leicester City at the King Power Stadium and also to keep him out of the reach of the Belgian national team. Until after the international break when you’ll be hearing (or reading) from me again, Keep The Blue Flag Flying High!
Thumbnail image courtesy of: Football 4 Ever
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