Everton host Chelsea, on Saturday afternoon, looking to improve their lacklustre home form. The Toffees have picked up just fifteen points from their home games, this season. Everton have struggled for goals, averaging a goal a game, at Goodison Park. The lack of goals, and the pressure from the Goodison faithful, has contributed to Everton winning only four of their 12 home league games.
Chelsea’s away form, this season, has been impressive and the visitors will expect a positive result. The London team are unbeaten in their last seven games, away from Stamford Bridge. The visitors have lost two of their 12 away league games, this season, winning five and drawing the other five.
Everton will take comfort from their recent league record, against Chelsea. The 3 – 1 reverse at Stamford Bridge, in October, is Chelsea’s only win in seven league meetings. Everton have won two with four of the remaining six ending in draws. Chelsea have only beaten Everton twice, in the last 10 league meetings, and are without a win at Goodison Park since 17th April 2008. Everton have won the last two at Goodison Park with the other fixture ending goalless.
The home side head into the match, in good form, unbeaten in five games. This run has seen the Toffees defeated in only two of their last 12 matches. Stuttering is an appropriate word, for Chelsea’s current form, with the London side failing to win any of their last four games. Both sides head into the game on the back of a draw. Everton came from behind to draw 1 – 1, at Wigan, whilst Chelsea squandered a 3 – 0 lead at home to Manchester United, the match ending 3 – 3.
The Everton defence is no longer watertight but in terms of goals against, Everton still have the sixth best defence in the country. Everton’s problem is scoring goals, with only Wigan (21) and Stoke (23) registering less often. The Toffees have scored nine goals in their last 12 Premier League games. Chelsea, however, have no such problems and are level with Tottenham, as the league’s fourth highest scorers.
In terms of opening the scoring, Chelsea also have the edge with the Londoners opening the scoring in 15 of their 24 matches (62.5%). Everton, in comparison, have opened the scoring in nine of their 24 league games, this season (37.5%). However, in terms of late goals, Everton have the advantage in two categories: goals in the second half (75%) and goals in the last 15 minutes (46%) – both league highs.
Everton’s treatment table is slowly starting to empty with Jack Rodwell (Hamstring) back in full training and hoping to make the squad. Tim Cahill (Calf) is a doubt after picking up an injury against Wigan. Leon Osman and Phil Jagielka (both Knee) remain around three weeks away from a return. Seamus Coleman (Thigh) is around two weeks away from fitness.
Chelsea will be without John Terry and midfielder Ramires (both Knee). Terry is due to return next week with Ramires a further week away. Salomon Kalou and Didier Drogba are both, with the Ivory Coast, at the African Cup of Nations. Frank Lampard (Calf) and John Obi Mikel (Hamstring) expect to shake off their injuries and return to the Chelsea squad. Ashley Cole returns from his one match ban, after a red card at Swansea.
Chelsea, as expected, have the edge over Everton in most areas. The London side have invested heavily in their side over the last 5 – 10 years, as Everton continue to sell before they can buy. The Chelsea defence does still have weaknesses, as they struggle to adjust to new tactics, under André Vilas-Boas. Everton will look to exploit these with the pace of Royston Drenthe, and Landon Donovan, and the link up play of Leighton Baines and Steven Pienaar.
Fabio Capello resigned his England post, this week. When the FA appoints a successor, the manager will have to test the playing squad. One of those tasks is deciding which player is best in the left back role. Two of those candidates, Leighton Baines and Ashley Cole, will be on display at Goodison Park, this Saturday. Baines compares favourably to Cole, despite playing in a side that has struggled for large parts of the season.
Everton last won back-to-back home games, in May, at the end of last season. The Toffees beat Manchester City and then Chelsea, in consecutive home games. That is a feat that the home side will look to repeat, as Chelsea aim to improve their impressive away form. The majority of recent meetings have ended in draws, so expect a close battle on Saturday. This is David Moyes’ most played fixture; this is his 30th clash with Chelsea, as Everton manager. The Scotsman will hope that counts in his favour, come 3pm Saturday.
Fernando Torres has failed to score in his last 5 games against Everton
Darron Gibson has not been on the losing side for 20 Premier League games
Sylvain Distin will make his 100th Everton appearance, in all competitions
Leighton Baines will make his 100th consecutive Everton appearance
Everton’s next defeat will be David Moyes’ 150th as Everton manager