Chelsea star’s departure will pave way for return of Lukaku this summer

Everton fans are devastated at the news that Romelu Lukaku will not be signing a new contract with the club. The Belgian is looking to play at the highest level and is hungry for silverware. A return to Chelsea would provide Lukaku with what he is looking for in terms of elite football but it is only an option for him if Diego Costa departs the club in the summer transfer window. Lewis Addley explores the potential of a Chelsea return…

Lukaku was never given the chance to showcase his talent in his first spell at Chelsea but it is quite clear the goal-machine has exactly what it takes to thrive at the highest level. It would be a complete role reversal if Lukaku replaces Costa this summer, as his move to Everton in 2014 provided the funds and space for the Spaniard to make the move to West London.

Costa has netted 49 Premier League goals in 79 games for Chelsea, while Lukaku has scored 47 in 100 games across the same amount of seasons. It’s clear Lukaku has had better luck with injuries in that time and he could have potentially scored more if he had been receiving the same level of service as Costa from the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard.

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There isn’t much doubt Lukaku would be a success at Chelsea, he has a similar powerful approach to Costa, arguably more pace that all-important eye for goal.

But a move back to SW6 only makes sense if Costa does actually leave the club. Chelsea are quite clearly opting for just one striker and you only have to look at how limited Michy Batshuayi’s playing time has been this season to know Antonio Conte likes to keep his side settled.

A whole host of clubs across Europe will be battling to sign the 23-year-old forward but a Premier League move would be favourable, his style of play suits the league and he’s proven he can cause any side trouble.

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The Chinese Super League looks a likely destination for Costa if a new contract isn’t agreed with Chelsea but the trail has gone a little more quiet since the club were able to rebuff a world-record offer from Tianjin Quanjin in the winter window. Potential suitors will no doubt try to tempt Costa away from Chelsea in the summer, with his future far from certain at Stamford Bridge.

Would Lukaku move back to Chelsea? Should The Blues go in for him if Costa leaves this summer?

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Premier League Preview and Prediction: Everton vs Manchester City

Competition: Premier League – Everton vs. Manchester City

Venue: Goodison Park – Sunday, January 15 – 13:30 GMT (08:30 ET) 

Match Odds: Everton 16/5 – Draw 14/5 – Man City 4/5

Match Preview

Everton play host to Manchester City on Sunday with The Toffees looking to extend their Premier League unbeaten run to four games.

This is going to be a test for Ronald Koeman’s men, they face a Manchester City side who will be desperate for a win, but they will know they have the ability to upset anyone at Goodison.

Everton are on a three-game unbeaten Premier League run. That recent run of form looks to have them back on track in the league after a difficult spell. They did however exit the FA Cup last weekend in a disappointing home loss, so a response is needed.

This is Everton’s second league home game in a row, they demolished Southampton 3-0 last time out and they have a great chance of a positive result if they put in an impressive display like that again.

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Manchester City have won three of their last five away games. Their last league game was a 2-1 home win against Burnley, an unconvincing performance intensified the pressure on Pep Guardiola.

While Pep is not one to panic, he is in new territory in his managerial career and needs to find a way to silence his doubters. A win here at a ground renowned for being difficult for the top sides to take points from would be a step in the right direction.

City have won five of their last six games in all competitions, including progressing in the FA Cup with a ruthless 5-0 win away against West Ham. The squad should be fresh as their last game will have been nine days previous by kick off on Sunday.

Guardiola’s side have work to do to close the gap at the top of the league. A loss here could potentially see them drop out of the top four and then the alarm bells would certainly be ringing amongst the fans. They need a big performance.

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Team News

Everton’s squad is littered with injuries, they could be without as many as eight players for this tie. Yannick Bolasie, Dominic Clavert-Lewin and Muhamed Besic are all out, while Maarten Stekelenburg, James McCarthy, Bryan Oviedo and Matthew Pennington are all doubts. Idrissa Gueye is on international duty at the African Cup of Nations.

Vincent Kompany and Ilkay Gundogan remain long-term absentees for Manchester City, while Leroy Sane is a doubt. Fernandinho is also unavailable for selection as he remains suspended.

Key Points

Everton’s last five: W/L/W/D/W

Manchester City’s last five: W/W//W/L/W

Key Stat: Everton are unbeaten in 12 of their last 13 Premier League games at Goodison Park.

Key Player: Sergio Aguero – The Argentine made the difference in City’s last Premier League game. A lot is going to be expected from him over the second half of the season given his side trail top spot by seven points. He can remind everyone that City are well in the title race by contributing to an impressive away victory here.

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Score Prediction

Everton 2-2 Manchester City – An action packed draw. Everton have caused plenty of the big sides trouble at Goodison down the years and City could fall victim to that fate once again here. City’s defensive issues have been well documented, it would be a surprise if they keep a clean sheet this weekend, given Everton’s free-flowing attacking play.

Are Everton be right to be chasing this £30m rated United star?

New Everton boss Ronald Koeman is looking to bring in one more attacking midfielder before the start of the new season according to The Times. The club have moved quickly to use some of the money raised by the £47.5 million sale of John Stones.

The paper suggests Mata will push for an exit from Manchester United with the Everton manager keen on trying to sign the 28-year-old midfielder, despite the fact that United have stated he is not for sale.

Mata’s unstable relationship with manager Jose Mourinho was thrown into the melting pot once again as he was subbed off after being subbed on in the Community Shield final last weekend.

So what could Mata bring to Everton?

Experience:

Mata has a wealth of experience at the highest level. He featured in the Spanish World Cup and European Championship winning sides and he has also won the UEFA Champions League.

At just 28 years old his is now heading into his prime and has already played a staggering 418 domestic career games, racking up 107 goals and 130 assists.

Utility:

The Manchester United man can play as a number ten as well as a left or right sided midfielder. Although Mata isn’t blessed with blistering pace, his ability to hold onto the ball and pick passes makes him a great option in any position in the final third.

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Set pieces:

Mata has a knack of scoring free kicks and creating chances from set pieces. One of his most notable assists from a set piece was in the Champions League final of 2012.

Temptation:

Signing a world class star like Mata arguably increases the possibility to sign other players. The Spaniard has close relationships with players at United, Chelsea and a whole host of Spanish league clubs.

Consistency:

Mata averages a goal ratio of just over one in four and he has contributed directly to 237 goals in his 418 domestic career appearances. His Premier League statistics to date make him an ideal player for any club. In the 168 games he has featured in he has scored 38 goals and registered 48 assists. He also has an incredible record in the FA Cup, where he has scored 12 goals in 23 games and registered nine assists.

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While it is unclear whether Everton will make a move for Mata or if United would overturn their decision to make their midfielder unavailable in this transfer window, he would offer a lot to the Merseyside club.

Would Mata be a good signing for Everton? Will Manchester United let the Spaniard leave this summer?

The Dugout: Can Ronald Koeman take Everton to the next level?

The 2016/17 Premier League season is less than a week away and a number of clubs will start the campaign with new managers. Fans will be expecting more from their team and here, ‘The Dugout‘ will explore if Ronald Koeman can take Everton to the next level…

Everton fans will be hoping the appointment of Ronald Koeman can signal the beginning of a new era for the club as their Premier League season begins at home against Tottenham this weekend. It has been a tough two years to take for the Toffees as they have finished 11th with 47 points in consecutive campaigns and have looked a shadow of the side that finished 5th just three years ago.

The time seemed right for Everton to part ways with Roberto Martinez and they have done very well to lure Ronald Koeman away from Southampton after a successful season. Koeman guided the Saints to a sixth-place finish and Everton fans will be hoping he can repeat that feat or even better it this season.

Koeman has a great platform to start with at Everton, with a squad who have been underachievers in the last two campaigns. It will be interesting to see how he can develop the players and push the side back up the table.

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So how can Koeman take Everton to the next level?

Motivation:

It is no surprise that a team performs much better when they are highly motivated and Koeman can do just that. The Everton players looked in disarray for large parts of last season despite some great results against the top clubs. Koeman has the experience of being part of a setup that thrives on motivation from both his playing and managerial days.

The Dutchman has been working on his squad in the summer transfer window, releasing a number of long-term servants to the club with the likes of Tony Hibbert, Leon Osman and Steven Pienaar all departing. He is clearly looking to freshen things up and bring forward a less predictable Everton for the coming season.

With Koeman’s ability to motivate players, Everton fans will be hoping top players will become more consistent. Kevin Mirallas, Ross Barkley and Gerard Deulofeu are three players who came under some criticism last campaign for inconsistent performances. There is no doubt they are all capable of putting in world-class shifts and with Koeman directing the style of play, these three could massively benefit from his guidance.

While these three were in no way to blame for Everton’s below-par season last term, they are the types of players who are expected to provide. If Koeman can motivate the strong attacking trio to feed the striker – whoever that may be as uncertainty still looms over Romelu Lukaku’s future – the club should look more deadly in front of goal in the upcoming season.

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Premier League record:

Koeman has had a brilliant start to managerial life in the Premier League. He guided Southampton to a 7th place finish in his first season as manager and finished 6th in the last campaign, proof Koeman has the ability to improve a side in the world’s most competitive league.

Squad consistency:

Through their Premier League history, Everton have been a side who have boasted long-term squad players, something Koeman will relish the opportunity to work with. At Southampton Koeman perhaps didn’t – or wouldn’t – have had the opportunity to keep the same group of players for season upon season.

Koeman is already under pressure regarding the future of both John Stones and Romelu Lukaku. So far Everton have shown their resolve to keep their best players – a similar scenario to their continued rebuff of Chelsea’s efforts to tempt Stones away from the club this time last year.

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With this in mind Koeman has a great platform to build a squad with a strong core knowing that the club will be backing his every decision regarding the future of his players.

Koeman has a lot of work to do to take Everton to the next level but in joining the club he has the chance to do so. The Toffees appear to have a policy of giving players and staff every opportunity to reach their highest potential before stepping in and taking any action and he will be hoping to hit the ground running against Tottenham on Saturday.

Is Koeman the right man to lead Everton forward? Can he take them to the next level?

Why resigning Lukaku if Costa leaves Chelsea would be a backward step

Diego Costa’s Chelsea future continues to look uncertain with the Spaniard rumoured to be unsettled. Former Blue, Romelu Lukaku has been linked with a mega-money return to the club just two years on from his departure. Lewis Addley explores why resigning the Belgian would be a backward step for the club…

Antonio Conte has been steadily making his mark on Chelsea through their preseason tour but there has been one notable absentee in the form of Diego Costa. The Spaniard has struggled to take part in some of Conte’s sessions due to a persistent back problem and has barely racked up any minutes playing time.

The rumours surrounding Costa’s future have intensified since Chelsea’s 3-2 defeat to Real Madrid last weekend. The forward was secretly videoed in conversation with fellow countryman Sergio Ramos who apparently questioned the reasons why Costa wasn’t rejoining Atletico Madrid.

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According to The Metro, Ramos asked Costa ‘Why don’t you come back to Madrid?’ The Chelsea man’s response couldn’t be seen as he had his back to the camera, but Ramos’ follow up question appears to repeat Costa’s response: ‘They won’t let you?’

While this is only speculative on the basis of lipreading it has not painted the situation in any better light for Chelsea fans.

If Costa is to leave the club, Chelsea will need to find a replacement for their first-choice striker, and Lukaku is looking likely to push for an exit from Everton.

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The odds have been slashed for a return to Chelsea for Lukaku so let’s have a look at why it would be a backward step for the club.

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Costa vs Lukaku EPL stats since 14/15 provided by Squawka

As we can see, since the 2014/15 Premier League season, Costa has scored four more goals than the Belgian in 19 less games. While there is an argument for Lukaku being a more favourable choice due to being less injury prone, his minutes per goal output is nowhere near as impressive as Costa’s.

Lukaku has contributed more assists and does have a higher take on success percentage, but along with his goalscoring statistics Costa also boasts better shot accuracy and pass completion.

Costa averages a goal every 1.68 games, compared to Lukaku’s 2.6. Hypothetically speaking, if Costa had played the extra 19 games difference between the two with his goal per game average he could have potentially scored another 11 times.

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One thing that does play into Lukaku’s favour is age, still only 23 he has a long career ahead of him and plenty of time to learn. Although Costa isn’t even at his peak, at 27, his playing days would arguably come to an end before Lukaku, providing both steer clear of major injuries.

Do you think signing Lukaku as Costa’s replacement would be a backward step? Will either of these players even move before the window closes?

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Liverpool vs Everton

Competition: Premier League – Liverpool vs. Everton

Venue: Anfield – Wednesday, April 20 – 20:00 BST (15:00 ET)

Match Odds: Liverpool 4/6 – Draw 3/1 – Everton 19/5

Match Preview

Liverpool welcome Everton to Anfield on Wednesday night in the Premier League for a midweek Merseyside Derby.

The home side have been on a fine run of form of late and come into this tie unbeaten in their last three league outings.

Liverpool won 2-1 away at Bournemouth last weekend and a win in this fixture could see them move up the table into 6th. Jurgen Klopp will be pleased with the progression his side are making and he will be hoping to end the season in the strongest form possible to build a foundation for Liverpool to mount a top four challenge next campaign. 

There have been six draws in the last seven Merseyside Derby clashes, but Liverpool will be feeling confident they can break that trend heading into this tie. 

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Everton are stuck in a rut of form. They haven’t won any of their last six Premier League games, losing twice and drawing in each of their last three.

There is plenty of room for improvement for Roberto Martinez’s side and a win here would certainly be the lift they are looking for as the season nears its end.

Everton’s last league visit to Anfield ended in a 1-1 draw, a scoreline they would probably be satisfied with heading into this tie given the differing form between the two sides.

The Toffees are sitting in 11th on 41 points and they will want to ensure they can get back into form as only two points separate them and 16th place at this stage.

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Team News

Liverpool have seven injury concerns heading into this tie. Christian Benteke, Emre Can, Joe Gomez, Jordan Henderson and Danny Ings are all expected to miss out, while Divock Origi and Kolo Toure are both doubts.

Everton have one less injury concern. Leighton Baines, Tom Cleverley, Seamus Coleman, Tony Hibbert and Aaron Lennon are all doubtful, while Phil Jagielka remains out.

Key Points

Liverpool’s last five: W/L/D/W/W

Everton’s last five: L/L/D/D/D

Key Stat: Everton have failed to win in any of their last six Premier League outings and have only scored twice in their last five games. 

Key Player: Roberto Firmino – The Liverpool forward has netted nine goals this season, including his side’s opener last weekend and will look to light up the Merseyside Derby at Anfield here.

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Score Prediction

Liverpool 3-1 Everton – Liverpool to continue their run of form and overpower a struggling Everton side in front of the home crowd. It’s been a tough season for Everton, who have underachieved given their squad strength but Liverpool will likely add to their woes with a comfortable victory on Wednesday night.

STATS: Was Jose Mourinho wrong to let these seven players leave Chelsea?

Chelsea‘s form has been a huge topic of conversation after each game so far this season for one reason or another, mostly down to below-par performances.

Key players are failing to provide quality in the same way they did last season, with the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Eden Hazard and Diego Costa the subjects of heavy criticism.

Jose Mourinho has let some big names leave the club since his return in 2013, some of whom are enjoying great form in their domestic seasons with other clubs.

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With Chelsea under such pressure at current, it’s difficult not to ask whether some of those names should have been let go, so we took a look at some of those players’ statistics this season.

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 Former Chelsea players’ domestic league stats for the 2015/16 season (via Squawka)

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Petr Cech’s domestic league stats for 2015/16 as a goalkeeper (via Squawka)

Petr Cech comes out on top in terms of win percentage with an impressive 66.6% in the Premier League with Arsenal, which is 41.6% better than Chelsea’s overall win percentage of 25% in the top flight.

Romelu Lukaku, now at Everton, has bagged seven league goals so far this season. Chelsea’s highest individual goalscorer only has two (Diego Costa, Ramires and Willian).

The highest number of assists from those who have departed have come from Lukaku and Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne on four. Cesc Fabregas, arguably Chelsea’s most creative player, has just one league assist after 12 games.

And perhaps most staggering is the fact that the highest number of losses suffered domestically out of the seven players is only three, four less than Chelsea’s worrying total of seven so far.

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While we are not suggesting Mourinho’s transfer policy is wrong, it is clear that his squad is lacking in creativity and goals this season. What we must not forget is that out of these seven players only Petr Cech and Andre Schurrle (departed January 2015) were in the Chelsea squad who won the Premier League last season.

But Chelsea fans would be forgiven for looking at the names in the table above and wishing they could bring them back to Stamford Bridge to try and turn the Blues’ campaign around.

Gerard Pique labels young English star as one of world’s best

FC Barcelona and Spain centre-back Gerard Pique has named England and Everton star John Stones in his world XI and told The Daily Telegraph he is ‘one of the new generation.’

Pique is regarded as one of the best central defenders in the world and he admits you can’t just be a ‘defender’ anymore in the modern game.

“Now the position of the centre-back is not just about defending or being nasty or tough. It’s about knowing how to play football, control the ball, pass and be more comfortable in possession,” he said.

Stones has received credit for his composure and confidence from players past and present and pundits alike in his rise to the top level over a short period of time.

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The praise didn’t stop there from Pique, as he added: “He’s one of the new generation who understand football not just as a defender.”

The 21-year-old Toffees star could well be in England’s starting lineup against Spain on Friday, which should see him face Pique.

Pique’s comments will only further fuel speculation that Stones will be subject to more bids from Europe’s elite clubs in the upcoming transfer windows.

Stones was one of only two players who Pique has not played alongside in his chosen XI.

Pique World XI

created using lineupbuilder.com

Will Stones get a move to one of Europe’s elite clubs?

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Everton vs Liverpool

Competition: Premier League – Everton vs. Liverpool 

Venue: Goodison Park – Sunday, October 4 – 13:30 BST (08:30 ET)

Match Odds: Everton 13/8 – Draw 23/10 – Liverpool 13/8

Match Preview 

Everton host bitter rivals Liverpool in the Merseyside derby and one of the standout fixtures this weekend in the Premier League.

The Toffees come into this one off the back of their stunning 3-2 comeback against West Bromwich Albion where they were 2-0 down.

Roberto Martinez’s side are one point outside the Champions League places and although early on in the season that will be on their mind. This is a great chance to send out a message to the clubs around them in the table.

Everton have been slightly inconsistent so far this season, but have proved they are fearing nobody and will be pumped up ahead of this tie. This is the first of three tough upcoming fixtures for the home side which will see them play Manchester United and Arsenal in their next two games. It is important that they take something away from this fixture.

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Liverpool sit 9th in the Premier League and their Europa League clash on Thursday night has only intensified the pressure on manager Brendan Rodgers.

They have struggled in front of goal so far this season, only netting seven times, and this is a must win game.

Daniel Sturridge marked his return with a brace last weekend and his performance will have lifted the camp and the fans, but they cannot rely on their talisman to provide alone.

Liverpool come into this one off the back of their 3-2 win against Aston Villa, where they suffered a scare having lead 3-0. Their defensive frailties are all too apparent and they cannot afford to give this strong Everton side any indication of their weaknesses otherwise they risk being picked apart.

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Team News  

Everton’s injury woes continue with seven players expected to miss out. Leighton Baines is out until November with his ankle injury. Seamus Coleman, Jon Stones and Muhamed Besic are doubts but could feature. Tom Cleverley, Tony Hibbert and Steven Pienaar remain sidelined.

Liverpool have five players out for this one as Roberto Firmino, Christian Benteke, Jordan Henderson, Jon Flanagan and Dejan Lovren are sidelined. Daniel Sturridge will expect to lead the line.

Key Points 

Everton’s form: L/D/W/D/W

Liverpool’s form: D/L/L/D/W

Key Stat: Everton have only won one of the last between the sides at Goodison, the last three have all ended in draws.

Key Player: Romelu Lukaku – The Everton powerhouse had an incredible second half the comeback against West Brom, his performance saw him named man-of-the-match and the Toffees will be praying he can deliver once again.

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Score Prediction

Everton 2-2 Liverpool – The sides to draw in this fixture yet again. A typically high-paced, entertaining Merseyside derby.

Premier League Preview and Prediction: Everton vs Chelsea

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

Match Preview 

Premier League action returns this weekend after the international break with Everton hosting the struggling champions Chelsea.

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.

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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.

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Team News  

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.

Key Points 

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.

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Score Prediction

Everton 2-1 Chelsea – The champions problems to continue in a fixture which they never find easy.