Chelsea welcome Everton to Stamford Bridge on Monday evening, in a fixture that will have huge ramifications for the Champions League race. The Blues are currently in fourth position, but the visitors are just one point behind and they have a game in hand. Both teams will be confident that they can go on to finish in those positions. The experience of Carlo Ancelotti has been hugely beneficial for the Toffees, while the influence of Thomas Tuchel at Stamford Bridge has been obvious to everyone. This should be a fascinating battle between two of the best coaches in the country.
Since his appointment, Tuchel has overseen an unbeaten run lasting 10 matches across all competitions. During this period, they have conceded on two occasions, one of which was an own goal. Last season, they were criticised for being poor at the back, but Tuchel looks to have solved that issue. However, there is still room for improvement in attack, as the team don’t look like they are going to be free scoring. They have the talent in their squad to be one of the best in attack too. They need to find that balance if they are to comfortably finish in the top four.
It has been an excellent season for Everton, as they have taken huge strides under Ancelotti. Their supporters have long spoken about the team underachieving. They now have a manager that is able to meet their lofty expectations and they should continue to progress in the right direction. Although a top four finish still looks to be unlikely, it is well within their grasp and they will take a lot of confidence from their recent win away to Liverpool. If they perform at a similar level on Monday, they have every chance of getting something from the game to boost their European hopes.
Edouard Mendy has kept 12 clean sheets in 22 Premier League appearances. He has added a calming presence to the Chelsea defence.
Everton have now scored 11 headers in the Premier League this season. No team has scored more.
Since the appointment of Tuchel, Mason Mount looks to be ready to make this team his own. Many feared that the sacking of Frank Lampard could be damaging to the midfielder’s career, but he has already proven his worth to the new manager. During the week, he scored the winning goal against Liverpool. At the moment, he is the only attacker to consolidate a starting berth under the German and he will be in the team on Monday night. It does look like he will improve his goal-scoring threat in the new system as he is being used in a more advanced role. In his last five league matches, he has scored three goals and he has been a constant threat. Everton will be dogged in central areas, but the flexibility of Mount means that he will pick up pockets of space. In his current form, he will be one of the players to watch on Monday.
The last few weeks have been very good for Richarlison. Ancelotti has spoken about how he has changed his role to remove some of the defensive responsibilities. It is reaping huge rewards, as the Brazilian has scored in each of his last four Premier League matches. Considering he has scored six all season, this run underlines the confidence that he is now displaying. He will now be hoping to show more consistency in the final third over the rest of the season and support Dominic Calvert-Lewin. It can be argued that Richarlison is even more important against the best teams in the division, as he works hard and plays a role out of possession. Chelsea have proven to be impossible to break down under Tuchel, with only one opposition player managing to find the back of the net. However, there are fewer players in better form than Richarlison. He will be desperate to continue that good form.
Thiago Silva and Tammy Abraham are both major doubts for this fixture, as both recover from injuries. Callum Hudson-Odoi and Marcos Alonso are both in contention to start after missing out on recent matches.
Seamus Coleman and Tom Davies have knocks, but both should be back for the trip to Chelsea. James Rodriguez is a doubt for the match, while Yerry Mina is a week away from a return to action.
This is a difficult match to predict as both teams are in good form. They will be well organised and difficult to break down. Everton have only scored twice in their last two matches, while Chelsea are struggling to find fluency in attack under Tuchel. This one could end goalless and that wouldn’t be seen as the worst result for either team.
Chelsea 0-0 Everton