Sports Mole provides team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of Sunday’s Premier League clash between Chelsea and Everton.
Chelsea head into their Premier League clash with Everton on Sunday afternoon with the opportunity to move to the top of the table ahead of Manchester City’s showdown with neighbours Manchester United.
Everton begin the weekend in ninth position in the standings, but the Toffees could potentially move as high as sixth with three points at Stamford Bridge.
Maurizio Sarri would have been disappointed with his team’s showing in the 1-0 victory over BATE Borisov in the Europa League, but the Italian is unlikely to be feeling too negative heading into this weekend’s fixture.
Chelsea have now gone 17 games without suffering defeat in all competitions, while 19 goals have been scored in their last seven outings with Alvaro Morata appearing to regain his confidence in front of goal.
That return has come with Eden Hazard nursing a back injury on the sidelines, but the Belgium international is now ready to add his eight goals and four assists for the campaign.
Chelsea have not always been convincing in the Premier League with three draws coming in their last six matches, but the Blues remain in a position where they can challenge Manchester City and they would have taken that at the start of the season.
Sarri’s side have a difficult run of games with Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City to come shortly after the international break, and it will force Sarri to place more focus on rotating his players ahead of and during the Christmas period.
The head coach has used just 19 different players in the top flight and five of those have featured for less than 100 minutes, which leaves Sarri having to be wary about overworking the key players in his team.
Willian appears to be most at risk with the Brazilian featuring in each of Sarri’s 18 games in charge, while the Blues boss has already pointed to Jorginho feeling jaded because of his international commitments.
Sarri will know that he eventually needs to find more of a balance but for now, all the focus will be on trying to achieve another three points which could potentially leave Chelsea at the top of the standings heading into the two-week break.
Recent form: DDWDWW
Recent form (all competitions): DWWWWW
Everton’s spending during the summer transfer window has increased the expectation levels at Goodison Park, and the pressure was soon on Marco Silva after an indifferent start to the season.
The Portuguese is still to record more than two victories in a row in all competitions, but four wins from their last five outings in the Premier League have got the club back on track.
The majority of the club’s points have come from fixtures on Merseyside, but it at least keeps the team heading in the right direction as they bid to secure at place in the top seven of the table.
Silva will be encouraged by the performances of his offensive-minded players with Everton having netted at least two goals in their last four matches in the top flight, and it is not just Richarlison who is delivering in the final third.
The young Brazilian has contributed six goals from nine starts, but Everton are finally getting value for money out of Gylfi Sigurdsson who has five goals and two assists to his name in the league.
There is still work to do at the other end of the pitch and the anticipation is rising ahead of the full debut of Yerry Mina, but Everton travel to Stamford Bridge having only conceded four goals in their last five games.
Silva will be delighted if his backline can maintain that ratio for the remainder of the season, partly because it would eliminate any doubts that supporters may have on Silva’s defensive record at his previous clubs in England.
Everton – like Chelsea – have a tough set of fixtures to come with Liverpool and Man City also lined up before the middle of December, but Silva and his side will fear no-one while they are producing the goals in defence and attack.
Recent form: LWWWLW
Recent form (all competitions): WDWWLW
Hazard is likely to feature from the start after successfully coming through an hour against BATE on Thursday evening.
Silva has revealed that there is a fitness doubt over Richarlison, but the attacker still played some part in training on Friday.
Kurt Zouma is unable to face his parent club, so that could result in Silva handing a debut to Mina in the centre of defence.
Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Arrizabalaga; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso; Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic; Willian, Morata, Hazard
Everton possible starting lineup:
Pickford; Coleman, Keane, Mina, Digne; Gueye, Gomes; Walcott, Sigurdsson, Bernard; Richarlison
Head To Head
Sunday’s meeting will represent the 180th competitive encounter between the two clubs, with Chelsea claiming 72 victories and Everton prevailing on 54 occasions.
Chelsea have been the better side in recent meetings, with the West Londoners winning seven times in 11 matches since the start of 2014.
Everton do not possess a great record at Stamford Bridge, with the Toffees not gaining success at the ground since 1994.
We say: Chelsea 3-1 Everton
Some of Chelsea’s big guns would have been grateful for a rest in midweek, and that could benefit the Blues heading into this match. Everton are capable of scoring goals against any team in the top flight, but we feel that Chelsea’s extra quality in attack will prove to be the difference.