The Big Match Preview: Everton vs Chelsea

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Saturday 30th August – 17:30 – Goodison Park

Chelsea’s status as Premier League title favourites faces considerably its biggest test of the season so far when they travel to Everton on Saturday evening. So far, The Blues have beaten newly promoted sides Burnley and Leicester 3-1 and 2-0 respectively meaning they currently sit joint top of the league table, where many people expect them to be come May. Everton have begun their campaign with two 2-2 draws, first against Leicester and then last weekend against Arsenal when they conceded two goals in the last eight minutes of the game. They were brilliant at times against the Gunners, but late defensive errors again let them down. Roberto Martinez has two former Chelsea strikers in his squad – Romelu Lukaku who was signed permanently this summer for £28 million after a loan spell in 2013-14, and Samuel Eto’o, who the West London club released at the end of last season, prompting Everton to snap him up for free on Tuesday. With both sides still unbeaten, this could be a tough one to call on Merseyside.

The Key Battle: Romelu Lukaku vs John Terry

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Unlike last season, Romelu Lukaku will be allowed to play in this fixture because he is of course now an Everton player after his £28 million move this summer. Chelsea skipper John Terry, in central defence, will be the man tasked with containing him.

One of the Belgian’s biggest threats is his strength on the ball; he will back himself to shrug off his opponent in most challenges, so Terry will have to stay strong and try to direct Lukaku’s runs away from goal, otherwise Everton’s front man will be finding space to cause trouble all too easily.

In the air, Terry is rarely outdone but he will have to be wary of Lukaku’s threat because once again he will use his strength. This will be a great battle to watch unfold throughout the game, because the challenge for both of these players is just as great, but you do feel that whoever comes out on top will go a long way to help their side win the game.

Team News

Everton

  • Everton will assess the fitness of their two former Chelsea strikers, Samuel Eto’o and Lukaku, prior to the Londoners’ visit to Merseyside.
  • Eto’o has been short of match fitness, having only joined the club this week, while Lukaku has had a toe injury. Another player with Chelsea connections, on-loan winger Christian Atsu, cannot face his parent club.
  • Midfielder Steven Pienaar (groin) is definitely missing but midfielder Darron Gibson is still pushing to return after 10 months out. Midfield duo Ross Barkley (knee) and Bryan Oviedo (leg), and striker Arouna Kone (knee) remain sidelined.

Chelsea

  • Chelsea have been monitoring a ‘minor muscle injury’ picked up by Costa, amid talk that he could be ruled out for up to six weeks.
  • With Fernando Torres in discussions regarding a possible move to AC Milan, Mourinho may soon find himself short on striking alternatives – with Didier Drogba the only other proven option available to him at present.
  • The Portuguese tactician will also be forced to shuffle his playmaking pack this weekend, with World Cup winner Andre Schurrle having picked up a leg injury in the victory at home to Leicester.

Previous Meetings

Everton wins = 49 / Chelsea wins = 62 / Draws = 51

Last Meeting: Chelsea 1-0 Everton (22nd February 2014)

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John Terry grabbed a stoppage-time winner as Chelsea beat Everton to retain their advantage at the top of the Premier League. Blues captain Terry slid in with goalkeeper Tim Howard to meet Frank Lampard’s inswinging free-kick, denying Everton a fully deserved point against their lacklustre hosts. Neither side created many clear chances but the Toffees looked sharper for much of the game, only to lose out in agonising fashion.

Stat of the Match

Everton have won four of their last five Premier League home games against Chelsea. Since the 2009-10 season, only Manchester City have beaten Chelsea more during that period with five victories.

Where can I watch it?

With the game kicking off at 5:30 pm, Sky Sports are showing the game live and their coverage begins at 4:45 pm. Alternatively, you could watch the highlights of the game on Match of the Day that evening at 10:20 pm.

My Prediction: Everton 1-1 Chelsea

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I think the outcome of this game could all depend on whether Diego Costa is fit enough to feature, as has the ability to change the game. There is no doubt that with or without the striker, this game will be a very close affair, so taking all things into consideration, I’m saying that both teams will keep their unbeaten records in a 1-1 draw at Goodison. Cesc Fabregas to get his first competitive goal for Chelsea and Leighton Baines to equalise for The Toffees.

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