League leaders Chelsea put even more distance between themselves and current champions Manchester City at the weekend with a 2-1 victory away at league strugglers Aston Villa. Jose Mourinho’s men have now opened up a seven point lead, and will be looking to add another three points to their tally against Everton on Wednesday evening.
The Toffees are currently languishing in twelfth position, just ten points off the bottom of the Premier League. They have only won one of their last eight league matches, and contested a dour scoreless draw with neighbours Liverpool on Saturday. Roberto Martinez will be hoping for a massive improvement on his team’s current form, and will need one if Everton are to take anything away from Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea could be without two of their most important players on Wednesday. Diego Costa will definitely miss the match, as he sits out the final game of his three-match suspension for stamping on Liverpool’s Emre Can, while Cesc Fabregas only has a slight chance of making the starting eleven as he recovers from a hamstring injury. Felipe Luis is also likely to miss out, while Loic Remy should start up front for The Blues.
Everton also have major doubts over several key men. Leighton Baines could miss the trip to London with a knee injury, and Steven Naismith (neck), Muhamed Besic (knock) and Aiden McGeady (knee) all face late fitness tests. Christian Atsu won’t be in the squad against his parent club, while Steven Pienaar, Leon Osman, Darron Gibson and Tony Hibbert will also watch from the sidelines. Joel Robles should keep his place in goal ahead of Tim Howard, who is still struggling with injury.
- There have been no draws in the previous six matches between these two teams, with Chelsea winning four and Everton two.
- The Blues stuck six goals past Everton in the nine-goal thriller at Goodison Park back in August. In the previous five league meetings between the two, Chelsea had scored a total of five goals.
- Leighton Baines has 8 assists this season. He’ll be missed, as no other Everton player has more than 2.
- Cesc Fabregas has three times more assists than Eden Hazard, with fifteen.
- Ex-Chelsea man Romelu Lukaku is Everton’s leading marksman with seven goals this season.
- Diego Costa leads the way for Chelsea, and is the Premier League’s top scorer with 17 goals.
Possible Line Ups
Courtois, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Matic, Ramires, Hazard, Oscar, Willian, Remy.
Robles, Coleman, Stones, Jagielka, Oviedo, Barry, Besic, Mirallas, Barkley, Lennon, Lukaku.
In the absence of both Fabregas and Costa, the emphasis is very much on Eden Hazard to shine as Chelsea’s main man, the role he inherited for much of last season. The Belgian has found the net nine times, and provided five assists in 24 starts for Chelsea. He has a pass completion rate of 88%, the highest of any attacking player in Jose Mourinho’s team. Operating on the left, Hazard will look to exploit any space left by the adventurous Seamus Coleman, and will be looking to add to his impressive statistics in the Premier League so far the season.
England’s Phil Jagielka will be vital against the wealth of attacking talent on display at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday. The 32 year old, with two goals to his name this season, has been a prominent fixture at the back and looks to have formed a good partnership with the ever impressive John Stones. Jagielka has made on average 1.7 interceptions and 1.4 tackles for The Toffees, but he will have to improve on those figures for Wednesday’s crucial tie against many people’s ‘Champions Elect’.
Impossible to back against Chelsea, especially with so many key men out for Everton. 3-0 to Mourinho’s men I reckon.