By, Ayodeji Itasanmi (Twitter: @aryhorblueblood)
Stamford Bridge/October 25, 2017
This is the last of our three consecutive home matches in three different competitions with a win and a draw to show for our efforts in the previous two matches. Everton decided on Monday to cut their losses on Ronald Koeman by showing the Dutchman the door following a dismal run of results where they one just 2 of 13 games so far this season and failing to win any of their last eight games. The Everton board is known to be patient with their coaches with their last two coaches, Roberto Martinez and David Moyes lasting 2 and 11 years respectively but no one can blame them, not even Koeman himself I’m sure, after the kind of money they pumped into the squad during the summer transfer window. It’s only natural for them to expect a return on their investment which isn’t forthcoming under the Dutchman hence their decision to let go of him. The sacking of Koeman sure will raise up the degree of difficulty for this match a bit with the Everton players likely to react to the sacking of their coach.
Chelsea and Everton have squared off 177 times with Chelsea having 71 wins to Everton’s 54 with 51 draws between them. The encounters between these two historic teams have been mostly in the league (Division one, Division two and Premier League) but there have been quite a few in cup competitions as well. In the 20 cup matches (FA Cup & League Cup) against Everton, Chelsea has only lost three times (W12 D5) but Everton do have the last laugh in that regard with them running out 2-0 winners in our last cup match during the silly 2015/16 season with Romelu Lukaku, who has switch Everton’s Blue for the Red of Manchester United, getting both goals. Everton has not won at Stamford Bridge since their victory there in November 1994 (L17 D11). Everton are yet to register a goal against Chelsea with Ronald Koeman in the dugout conceding 10goals in the three matches he has overseen losing all three but David Unsworth, his temporary successor will be hoping for a better fortune when he leads the team into battle at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night.
Antonio Conte and his squad for sure will still be buzzing following that sweet but hard-fought victory against Watford at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. While Antonio Conte will be hoping his injured players get back to full match fitness as soon as possible but he can be delighted with the way his fringe players has responded in recent games. I think both Azpilicueta and Alonso should not be included in the match day squad for this match because both of them has been begging for a rest for the last three games or there about. This surely will be another opportunity for Charly Musonda and Kenedy to stake a claim in the starting XI. Andreas Christensen will also be looking use this game to redeem himself after his below par performance against AS Roma in the Champions’ League last Wednesday. Batshuayi is a sure starter after his two-goal show at the weekend. In the last round of the Carabao Cup, Ethan Ampadu and Dujon Sterling both got their Chelsea debuts and I expect the youngsters to be involved at some point in this match as well, and depending on the score line maybe Kyle Scott will get a look in as well. Eden Hazard is gradually getting back to his very best form and this game is another opportunity to build up his form if not as a starter then as a substitute. Antonio Conte may want to give David Luiz to relax his calf hence he might stick with the trio of Rudiger, Christensen and Cahill. Bakayoko and Fabregas also needs a little bit of rest but theirs will have to wait until we get our midfield numbers up. For two games running Antonio Conte has switched between the 3-4-3 and 3-5-2 formations and got the result at the end especially against Watford at the weekend.
Possible Line Up:
Caballero; Rudiger, Christensen, Cahill; Zappacosta, Bakayoko, Fabregas, Kenedy; Willian, Musonda; Batshuayi
Last Five Matches: WLDLW
Injuries: Danny Drinkwater (Calf) – Out; N’Golo Kante (Hamstring)-Out; Victor Moses (Hamstring) –Out.
Roland Koeman has paid the ultimate price with the Everton board cutting ties with the Dutchman and their U-23 manager, David Unsworth taking the reins temporarily until a permanent replacement is found. Ronald Koeman is not without his own share of the blame with him changing formations and personnel at will thereby hindering the flow but the most glaring error on his part was not adequately filling the vacuum left by Romelu Lukaku who scored 25 league goals for Everton last season but was sold to United in a deal worth £90m. For their game against Arsenal on Sunday, which proved to be Koeman’s last official match in charge, he chose to line up with five at the back with the centre back trio of Williams, Keane and Jagielka flanked by Leighton Baines and Jonjoe Kenny with Nikolai Vlasic partnering Gana in central midfield, and Gylfi Sigurdsson and Dominic Calvert-Lewin supporting Wayne Rooney in attack. Tom Davies may finally get his chance with Idrissa Gueye suspended for this match and Morgan Schneiderlin carrying a knock. Unsworth may not want to make too many changes from Sunday because he’s only in the position on a temporary basis so he may continue with the three at the back formation with Keane, Williams and Jagielka continuing in that position. Mason Holgate is likely to return to the starting XI after missing the defeat to Arsenal due to a knock same with Morgan Schneiderlin who may be brought straight back after his injury to partner Tom Davies in midfield with Idrissa Gueye suspended. Sigurdsson is another option for central midfield should Schneiderlin not be passed fit. Wayne Rooney might be made to sit this one out with Calvert-Lewin is likely to lead the line considering how much trouble he caused the Chelsea defence once he came into the fray during their last visit to Stamford Bridge and Ademola Lookman is another option up front.
Last 5 matches: LLLDL
Injuries: Seamus Coleman (Broken Leg) – Out; Ross Barkley (Hamstring) –Out; Yannick Bolasie (Knee) –Out; Ramiro Funes Mori (Knee) –Out; Idrissa Gueye (Suspended) –Out; Mason Holgate (Calf) –Doubt; Morgan Schneiderlin (Knock) –Doubt;
Andreas Christensen vs. Dominic Calvert-Lewin
In this battle of academy graduates, Christensen is going to have his hands full with Calvert-Lewin considering how he performed in their 2-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge earlier in the season, but with Christensen’s last outing not that good he needs this kind of challenge to restore the fans’ confidence in him.
Davide Zappacosta vs. Gylfi Sigurdsson
With David Unsworth having such limited time to prepare the players he’s likely to use the same players as on Sunday and that means a head to head between Sigurdsson and Zappacosta, and the Italian is likely to come out tops with his burst of pace causing all sorts of problem for the Icelandic international.
Michy Batshuayi vs. Ashley Williams
Following his two-goal showing at the weekend the Batman is going to be in such high spirits going into this physical battle with Williams who isn’t anywhere near his best this season, which is a good thing for our Belgian goal machine.
Everton will be looking to get their season back on track with a good performance at Stamford Bridge but with us also having a topsy-turvy season of our own we also need to keep our momentum going into our match against Bournemouth at the weekend hopefully we will be going into that with a win. Keep The Blue Flag Flying High!
Thumbnail image courtesy of: Sky Sports
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