The Stamford Bridge outfit face a tough test against Roberto Martinez’s men at Goodison Park, in what will be a good measure of the Blues’ title hopes.
Due to the Jose Mourinho factor and the continued transfer window splurging, Chelsea are many people’s favourites for the Premier League title this year. However, to date the Blues have looked less than convincing and have not been overly tested in their opening three games of the new campaign. That could well change today.
Everton away is one of those tricky fixtures that most teams would be happy with a point in, but as Premier League title hopefuls you need to make a statement and play for a win.
Chelsea’s home wins over Hull and Aston Villa were followed by a defensive showing against Manchester United at Old Trafford, where Mourinho seemingly set his side up to not get beat rather than win. The hosts were out of sorts that day and in the end a 0-0 draw will be a fair result for Chelsea, but the club’s fans will expect a lot more from their side at Goodison Park.
Everton have brought in some clever acquisitions over the summer, including midfield duo Gareth Barry and James McCarthy. Along with prodigious talent Ross Barkley, the Merseysiders are sure to have their fair share of the ball and will test the resolve of their title-hopeful opponents. Frank Lampard and Ramires could well have their hands full with this talented trio.
Of the last four Premier League meetings of these two sides at Goodison Park, Everton have won three of them. Roberto Martinez will send his side out today looking for their first win of the new campaign, and will urge his team to attack their opponents.
Mourinho has some selection decisions to make, with new players arriving and others unavailable due to injury. In attack Romelu Lukaku has departed for Everton, but will not play against his parent club, and as such it will be one of Fernando Torres, Demba Ba, Andre Schurrle or new man Samuel Eto’o that will lead the line for the visitors.
In attacking midfield, Eden Hazard and Oscar both picked up knocks while on international duty, and as such Willian should make a debut. Juan Mata has been conspicuous by his absence from the starting XI this term, but the Spaniard should be reinstalled today. It will be one from Schurrle, Marco van Ginkel or Kevin De Bruyne to fill the other attacking berth.
If Chelsea play to their best there is no doubt they can snatch all three points from Goodison today. If they put in another uninspiring performance, Everton will look to take advantage and claim victory.
image: © Ben Sutherland