Match Preview: Chelsea vs. Everton
Chelsea vs. Everton
Stamford Bridge | November 5, 2016
The top two scorers in the Premier League go head-to-head in the late game Saturday as Diego Costa and Chelsea get set to take on former Blues’ player Romelu Lukaku and his Everton side. This is sure to be a massive clash as the two teams are separated by just 4 points in the standings and have traditionally come together for some incredibly entertaining football. Many will remember the last Premier League game the two teams played: a highly entertaining 3-3 draw that had all 6 goals scored in the second half including an own goal and 98th minute game-tying goal. That game was the only point Chelsea managed off of Everton last season since they lost 3-1 in the original fixture.
The big story surrounding these two teams whenever they have played recently is Lukaku, the former Chelsea man who was one of the many unceremoniously let go by the club. Lukaku was involved in both fixtures last season, but failed to find the scoresheet (although he did play a part in eliminating Chelsea from a cup competition). You can be sure this is a game he circled on his calendar when the fixture list was released.
Aside from a cup loss to West Ham, life has been smooth for Chelsea recently. All aspects of the team, from the goalkeeper up to the strike force, have been solid and firing on all cylinders. This is a team that will take the pitch at Stamford Bridge as a confident bunch, a well-oiled footballing machine. Hell, Costa hasn’t had a yellow card in weeks.
With only Premier League games until after December, there is no mid-week game for the Blues to prepare for, which means there is absolutely no reason for them to hold back. The starting lineup should be very similar to last week’s win over Southampton, which means that John Terry and Willian will again be on the bench.
Injuries: Fabregas (out), Zouma (unlikely), Mikel (questionable)
The first-year Toffees manager, Ronald Koeman, made a big tactical change last week as he changed formations from a 4-3-3, that was ineffective in a lost to Burnley, to a 4-2-3-1. This formation had Lukaku as the lone striker, playing in front of Bolasie, Mirallas, and Ross Barkley. It worked as they beat West Ham 2-0 with Lukaku and Barkley getting the goals. Expect Koeman to utilize the same formation coming off a positive result.
Another factor to note is that Everton are missing some important pieces as Leighton Baines,
James McCarthy, and Arouna Kone are all expected to miss the match with injuries. While not exactly stars, those three are solid players that play roles in this team. This is on top of many other injuries to depth players as well, and it will be interesting to see the type of lineup Everton fields on Saturday.
Injuries: Baines, Browning, Pennington, Gueye, McCarthy, Besic, Kone (out)
Three Matchups to Watch
Bolasie vs. Moses: while he doesn’t score too many goals, Yannick Bolasie has been one of Everton’s best players since arriving on a transfer from Crystal Palace. A very skilled and tricky winger, he is capable of dribbling past defenders and sending in enticing crosses for the target man up front. Victor Moses will be the Chelsea man likely to face off against Bolasie. Moses has been a revelation as a right wingback for Chelsea, but so far this season he hasn’t quite faced a challenge defensively like the one Yannick will give him.
Mirallas vs. Kanté: after beginning the season as one of Everton’s first-choice midfielders, Mirallas has struggled with consistency recently. He has not played a full 90-minute game since September 12th against Sunderland, which also happened to be the last time he had a mark on the scoresheet with an assist. It’ll be a tough challenge for him against arguably the best holding midfielder in England in N’golo Kanté. If Miralles can find it in him to harass Kanté and create chances up front for Lukaku, then Everton have a very good chance to find points in this one.
Pedro vs. Oviedo: the Costa Rican international Oviedo is stepping up with first-choice fullback Leighton Baines injured. Oviedo performed admirably last week, but will arguably face a tougher test against this Chelsea attack. As the left fullback, he will most likely be seeing a lot of Pedro this game, who has supplanted Willian on the depth chart with his strong play. Pedro is currently enjoying one of his better spells since arriving in London from Barcelona and Oviedo will do well to keep the Spaniard under wraps.
Stekelenburg has been Everton’s first-choice keeper for the majority of the season but has struggled at times. Joel Robles replaced him in net for their match against West Ham and promptly recorded a clean sheet. Whether that was enough for Koeman to trust him against Chelsea remains to be seen.
News surfaced this week that there is a chance Cesc Fabregas will be loaned out in the January transfer window for more playing time. Finding playing time in Conte’s system has been a massive challenge and he will miss this game as well with an injury.
About the author
Navaneeth Ravichandran, @navrav28
Navaneeth is currently a university student at UBC in Vancouver, Canada. He enjoys many sports other than football, especially a passion for ice hockey, as almost every Canadian does. He has been a Blues fan since 2007 and will continue to be a loyal fan till the day he dies.