Everton are hosting Chelsea during the opening weekend. Frank Lampard immediately comes up against the club where he is considered a legend, but he will put those loyalties to one side. During the corresponding fixture last season, the Toffees secured a surprise victory that can be looked back on as a turning point in their season. Thomas Tuchel has been very unhappy during pre-season with various complaints. It could be a good time for Everton to play one of last season’s top four.
It has been a turbulent few months for Everton, as they have dropped from European challengers to relegation contenders. They have overspent during recent years and that is now holding them back. The sale of Richarlison was a huge blow, but it was necessary to help with FFP. Last season, the Brazilian was their top scorer and talisman. It will be difficult to replace the influence he had on the team. James Tarkowski and Dwight McNeil have arrived to add experience to the squad. Lampard has another difficult task on his hands to move this team up the table with the financial restrictions on him.
Chelsea are entering their new era following the takeover by Todd Boehly’s consortium. There have been some notable departures in Romelu Lukaku, Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen. Meanwhile, Kalidou Koulibaly, Raheem Sterling and Carney Chukwuemeka have arrived at Stamford Bridge, with more signings expected. The approach suggests that the club is looking to challenge for major honours, as their main two signings are seen as players for now. There is some uncertainty about the club, as they finished the season poorly and Tuchel has been unhappy in the media. However, they are still the most likely to challenge the top two for the title.
Everton have won their last four matches against Chelsea at Goodison Park.
Chelsea have only scored once in their last five matches at Everton.
There have been plenty of rumours about players leaving Everton, including Anthony Gordon. The homegrown attacker emerged as an important player at Goodison Park last season and supporters will be keen to see him remain with the club. Tottenham and Newcastle United were both linked with a move this summer, which suggests rival clubs are monitoring his progress. If he has a good season, he could be the next in line to be sold to ease Everton’s FFP concerns. The challenge for Gordon is to increase his influence in the final third, as he contributed four goals and two assists last season. It was a promising start, but if he is to emerge and be one of the main replacements for Richarlison, he will need to become more productive. This weekend offers a good opportunity for Gordon to prove his ability against a Champions League side. His character means he will be relishing the challenge and he will be key if Everton are to create chances against a stubborn defence.
Mason Mount is one of the first names on the team-sheet under Thomas Tuchel. There are some concerns about Chelsea’s attack, but Mount has proven himself to be a consistent performer in the Premier League. The England international offers a huge threat, as he can score and assist with equal regularity. His consistency is unmatched by any other player in the Chelsea squad. Raheem Sterling has arrived to be the main goal threat, but this signing could be beneficial to Mount. It is expected that the pair will develop an excellent relationship in the final third. Sterling has elite movement, while Mount has the vision and passing quality to find him regularly. Last season, he contributed 11 goals and 10 assists in the Premier League. The only other players to reach ten for each were Mohamed Salah and Jarrod Bowen. This underlines the quality of Mount.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been ruled out for six weeks, while Salomon Rondon is likely to be unavailable this weekend. Seamus Coleman and Yerry Mina are both doubts for the match against Chelsea. Andros Townsend, Tom Davies and Andre Gomes are all unavailable.
Ross Barkley, Armando Broja and Timo Werner are all doubts for the weekend. All three have been linked with moves away and are unlikely to feature often for the first team in any case. Koulibaly and Sterling could make their debuts.
It is difficult to believe Everton will be any better this season. They have lost their talisman in Richarlison without bringing in an adequate replacement. McNeil is a talent, but he hasn’t shown that he is capable of delivering regular goals and assists in the Premier League. Chelsea may not be in the best shape ahead of the season, but they have a far superior squad. They should win their opening match of the season and inflict early pain on their former manager Lampard.
Everton 0-2 Chelsea