Chelsea vs Everton Preview

In-form Chelsea host Everton at Stamford Bridge, hoping to end the Toffees' impressive run against them.
In-form Chelsea host Everton at Stamford Bridge, hoping to end the Toffees' impressive run against them.
English Premier League | Saturday 5 November | Stamford Bridge | 19:30

Chelsea will be targeting a fifth straight league win when they host Everton at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. The Blues are on 22 points, just four ahead of the Toffees who are in sixth-place. Everton are unbeaten in three meetings against Chelsea, winning twice. However, they haven’t won at Stamford Bridge since 1994. Antonio Conte’s side are the league’s in-form team and it’s going to take something special for Ronald Koeman’s men to leave west London with a point, let alone three.

To Win (90mins)
Chelsea 11/20
Draw 32/10
Everton 9/2

Chelsea

Chelsea come into this match off a comfortable 2-0 victory over Southampton at St Mary’s Stadium – inflicting the Saints’ first home league defeat since February. Eden Hazard gave the Blues an early lead by cutting inside Steven Davis and powering a shot through the legs of goalkeeper Fraser Forster. Southampton had plenty of the ball but could not find a way through Chelsea’s extremely well-organised defence and Diego Costa sealed the win with a fine finish from 25 yards. That was Chelsea's fourth league win in a row – a feat they last achieved in April 2015 – and put them one point behind Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool. Antonio Conte’s side have now kept four clean sheets in a row – for the first time since August 2010 – having gone the entire month of October without conceding a goal.

The Blues are emerging as serious title contenders and their switch to a 3-4-3 formation has been the catalyst for their recent improvement. Defensively, the back three of Gary Cahill, David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta are afforded plenty of protection by Nemanja Matic and N'Golo Kante, and there's added support from wing-backs Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses. The new system has also unlocked Chelsea's attacking potential with Hazard, Pedro and Costa running defenders ragged up top. This team is performing so well that captain John Terry, Cesc Fabregas and Willian are all struggling to get into the side.

Hazard is thriving in his new role under Conte and he’s found his scoring boots in recent weeks. The Belgian has already scored five goals, netting in three consecutive league games for the first time. He has been named man of the match in back-to-back games which shows he is back to his old self.

Costa has been clinical in front of goal and is the league’s top scorer with eight goals. His goal against Southampton was his 40th league goal in 64 games since arriving in England in 2014 – that’s seven games quicker than it took Sergio Aguero to reach that number for Manchester City. It’s going to be very difficult for the Everton back line to keep him quiet.



Everton

Everton ended a run of five games without a win by beating West Ham 2-0 last Sunday thanks to goals from Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley. Lukaku kept up his remarkable scoring run against the Hammers by heading the Toffees in front in the 50th minute, while Barkley doubled the lead in the 76th minute, firing in at the far post. The result saw Ronald Koeman’s side stay in sixth-place, just five points off the top trio of Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool.

Everton will be looking to build on last Sunday’s win, but they’ll face a daunting fixture against an in-form Chelsea side. The Toffees got the better of the Blues last season, winning 3-1 and 2-0 at Goodison Park in the league and FA Cup, while drawing 3-3 at Stamford Bridge. That will motivate them for this match, but they’ll be well aware that they’ll be up against a much stronger team this time. Koeman’s side are winless in their last three travels, suffering two defeats against Bournemouth and Burnley. That form is a concern for the Toffees while they haven’t won at Stamford Bridge since 1994.

Everton will raise their game just as they always do against the big teams, but they’ll need to take their chances because they might not have too many. Barkley will be crucial as he has the ability to create something out of nothing. He is capable of unlocking defences in tight areas and Koeman will need him at his best.

Lukaku, who was linked with a return move to Chelsea in the last transfer window, will look to bury his old side just as he did in the FA Cup last season, scoring twice in a 2-0 victory. The powerful Belgian striker has been prolific in front of goal, scoring seven times – one less than Costa. As much as it’s going to be tough to break through Chelsea’s defence, it’s not going to be easy to stop Lukaku. Yannick Bolasie and Kevin Mirallas are other dangerous players that Conte’s side need to keep a close eye on.

Midfielder Idrissa Gueye will miss the trip to Chelsea after picking up his fifth yellow card of season and with James McCarthy currently out with a hamstring injury, Tom Cleverley would be favourite to replace him.

Probable line-ups:

Chelsea: 3-4-3
Courtois; Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill; Moses, Kante, Matic, Alonso; Pedro, Hazard, Costa.

Everton: 4-2-3-1
Joel; Coleman, Williams, Funes Mori, Oviedo; Barry, Cleverley; Bolasie, Barkley, Mirallas; Lukaku.

Prediction: Chelsea (11/20)
Chelsea have been in superb form with four league wins on the trot, scoring 11 goals without conceding. Seven of those goals have come in their last two home games where they beat champions Leicester 3-0 and Manchester United 4-0. Everton have struggled on the road and haven’t won at Stamford Bridge since 1994. I’m going for the home win at 11/20.

Written by Chadley Nagel.