Chelsea are the only unbeaten team in the top five leagues and they will attempt to uphold that stat on Sunday against Everton. It will be a tricky match for the home side, as the Toffees have a talented squad capable of beating the very best on their day. As things stand, the Blues are emerging as one of the most serious contenders for the title, but they will need to manage matches better if they are to maintain their position. A win against the Merseysiders this weekend would send a real statement of intent.
Maurizio Sarri took over as Chelsea manager later than he would have wanted, due to contractual problems with both himself and Antonio Conte. However, he has made sure that his project wouldn’t suffer as a result. The Blues have been superb to watch at times this season and there is much more to come from them as the weeks progress. Eden Hazard and Ross Barkley have been two players to benefit from the managerial change. In fact, the former likes the new manager so much that a new contract isn’t impossible, whereas it was expected that he would leave in the next 12 months prior to the appointment.
Everton are another team undergoing a change in style under Marco Silva. This is the Portuguese manager’s third job in the Premier League. There have been encouraging signs during that period, but he hasn’t managed to stay in a job longer than a few months. Despite that, he has progressed to manage one of the biggest clubs outside of the top-six. The talent and resources are there to compete in the top-half of the division. It is important that he does that this season. Although a match against Chelsea won’t make or break their season, they will be looking to deliver a good performance to show what they can do.
Maurizio Sarri is unbeaten in his first 11 matches as a Premier League manager. This equals a Premier League record for the most matches unbeaten for a debuting manager in the division.
Everton have won four of their last five Premier League matches. This is as many as they managed in the previous 14 in the competition.
This could be a groundbreaking season for Eden Hazard due to the style of play being implemented by Maurizio Sarri. The Italian has taken the shackles of his star man and encourages him to express himself in the final third. It has already had an obvious effect on the confidence of the Belgian, as he has started the season like a train. His progress has been stunted due to a slight injury, but he will be raring to get back to scoring ways on Sunday. Hazard has contributed seven goals and four assists in just 693 minutes in the Premier League. This gives him a goal involvement every 63 minutes, which is remarkable. It is unlikely that he continues to contribute at that rate, but it is a sign that he is playing some of the best football of his career. Chelsea are a better team with the 27-year-old in the starting eleven and Everton should be worried on Sunday.
The Brazilian has returned to his best form after being reunited with Marco Silva and has already shown why Everton paid such a hefty fee to land his services. There is a chance that he could be missing at the weekend as he has been named as an injury doubt. That would be a huge blow to the Toffees, as he provides quality in the final third and has immediately taken to his new central role. The 21-year-old has scored six goals in only 9 matches and has emerged as one of the team’s most important players. It is very impressive considering he remains at an early stage of his career and it will be in matches such as this one that he could see his reputation reach new heights. Everton’s chances this weekend could be dependent on whether their in-form attacker is passed fit or not.
Cesc Fabregas is a doubt for the home side, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek could be rested as he has a slight back problem. N’Golo Kante, David Luiz, Alvaro Morata and Marcos Alonso are all expected to return to the starting eleven.
As mentioned above, Richarlison is a doubt for the wekend and it would be a bitter blow if he is forced to miss out. Leighton Baines is suffering with an illness, while Jonjoe Kenny remains on the sidelines.
This is going to be a major test of Chelsea’s title credentials. If they are serious about challenging Manchester City, they need to win this game. It remains to be seen how the Europa League will effect them as the season progresses. It is likely to be a hindrance and it could be that is the case on Sunday. Everton are in good form and they will be going to Stamford Bridge with nothing to lose. An entertaining score draw looks to be a smart prediction.