Chelsea V Everton
Saturday 22nd February. 12:45PM. BT Sport 1
After last week’s FA Cup matches, Premier League action returns and the weekend kicks-off with Chelsea and Everton fighting it out for a vital three points at Stamford Bridge.
Whilst Jose Mourinho will want to forget the cup defeat at City by refocusing on their title ambitions, Roberto Martinez will be similarly desperate for points as the Toffees chase European qualification.
It should be a cracking start to the weekend.
Lukaku Absence Could Be Key
Despite returning from injury, top scorer Romelu Lukaku will be ineligible for Saturday’s trip to parent club Chelsea.
The Belgian was carried out of Everton’s humiliating 4-0 loss at Anfield last month and, with Arouna Kone already out injured, it means Roberto Martinez has very few options in attack and will probably opt for Steven Naismith to play a slightly unfamiliar role.
Meanwhile, Chelsea may also wish they could call upon Lukaku. Since loaning the 20-year-old to Goodison Park, the Blues have struggled to find goals from their three strikers as Ba, Eto’o and Torres have registered just 11 league goals between them. Fortunately, with the likes of Hazard and Oscar in midfield, this hasn’t prevented Mourinho’s side from racing to the Premier League summit heading into this weekend’s action.
As well as falling to Liverpool, Everton also lost away to Spurs in Lukau’s absence despite outplaying Tottenham. In that match we saw signs that the Toffees might struggle for goals without the Belgian talisman, if they squander chances at Stamford Bridge then they’ll be lucky to leave with a point.
Mourinho Looks To Extend Unbeaten Home Run
Chelsea might have dropped points in their last league game, away at West Brom, but their home record remains impeccable.
Under Mourinho Chelsea have not least a single home league match in 73 attempts. This season’s record stands at 11 wins and two draws. A trip to Stamford Bridge is an unenviable task but eventually that run will come to an end, something Martinez will undoubtedly remind his players prior to Saturday’s match.
The Blues did beat Everton 2-1 on the final day of last season though and the home side will be favourites to pick up another three points here. With Gary Cahill being their only notable absence, Chelsea will have a number of options on the bench and that could be vital as the game develops.
Victory for Chelsea will see the Blues temporarily extend their lead to four points and would pile the pressure on those around them. However, Everton might have something to say about that.
Chelsea V Everton Betting
Chelsea’s incredible home record, combined with Everton’s attacking problems, means there is little surprise that Mourinho’s men are 4/7 for the win. The Toffees are 5/1 to end the unbeaten run, whilst the draw is 14/5. (Odds from Bet 365)
Following the defeat at the Etihad, Mourinho will demand a positive response from his troops. Likewise, the late equaliser by West Brom in their last league outing will have left Jose fuming and the Portuguese manager will not want to see another lapse in concentration. With Everton’s problems in the final third, a clean sheet might well be a strong possibility.
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