Competition: Premier League – Everton vs. Chelsea
Venue: Goodison Park – Saturday, September 12 – 12:45 BST (07:45 ET)
Match Odds: Everton 3/1 – Draw 23/10 – Chelsea 19/20
Roberto Martinez’s side have made an inconsistent start to the season and will want to kick on to give them every chance of pushing for a Champions League spot. They will see this as a chance to take points from a well below-par Chelsea side.
Everton have some tricky fixtures coming up and will want to head into them full of confidence, a win in this one would be the perfect way to come back after the two week break.
This fixture ended 6-3 to Chelsea last season, with both sides having shocking defensive performances that afternoon. We can expect a far tighter tie this time around.
A key aspect of the tie will be how John Stones performs, he will be under the spotlight after the summer transfer saga with Chelsea and he has the opportunity here to show Everton fans why the club pushed so hard to ensure he stayed.
This game is a must win for Chelsea and if they fail to do so, even this early on in the season, will have a major impact on their defence of the Premier League as it will give Manchester City the chance to go 11 points clear at the top.
Jose Mourinho’s side have had an awful start to the season and come into the game off the back of their 2-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace before the international break. Their upcoming fixtures will become even harder if they don’t take at least a point here.
Mourinho may reshuffle his side once again as many of his stars have struggled to get going in their opening four games.
Eden Hazard had another below-par performance for Belgium but did score late on in their game against Cyprus. He came under criticism and praise from his national coach, who said he would have been subbed were it not for his ability to come up with the goods late on. Chelsea desperately need their key man to step it up a gear and get them back on track.
Everton’s injury woes continue with seven players expected to miss out. Leighton Baines is out until November as he is recovering from an ankle injury. Tom Cleverley, Tony Hibbert, Darron Gibson and Steven Pienaar are sidelined, while Byran Oviedo and Brendan Galloway are doubts.
Chelsea are expected to be without Thibaut Courtois, who picked up a knee injury in training and Oscar remains a doubt. John Terry is available again after his suspension and Baba Rahman could deputise for Branislav Ivanovic who has had a poor start to the season. If Rahman does play we can expect Cesar Azpilicueta to be switched to right back to allow the Ghanian to make his debut in his natural position of left back.
Everton’s form: D/W/L/D
Chelsea’s form: D/L/W/L
Key Stat: Chelsea are unbeaten in 34 of their last 38 meetings against Everton in all competitions.
Key Player: Romelu Lukaku – The former Chelsea man will be looking to take advantage of their poor start to the season and will no doubt be a handful for whoever Jose Mourinho selects in defence. The Belgian international has started the season well, scoring two in four appearances and will hope he can score his first goal against Chelsea.
Everton 2-1 Chelsea – The champions problems to continue in a fixture which they never find easy.