After a fine win over West Ham United last Sunday, Everton now head south to face an in-form Chelsea team. The Blues haven’t won at Stamford Bridge for 22 years now but have gone close on numerous occasions.
Ronald Koeman and his squad will be looking to build on last week’s win but will likely change his system to negate the talent-laden Chelsea attack.
Last week’s win came through a significant amount of guile and resiliency. Koeman’s side could have easily folded as the Hammers went close in the first half, but they didn’t, they responded after the half-time break in the best possible way. The game showcased what the Dutchman wants from his team, pressing and defence solidity.
Just as the win over Slaven Bilic’s side showcased the lack of depth in the forward roles behind Romelu Lukaku, Everton will have to combat a similar lack of depth in midfield this week with the suspension of Idrissa Gana Gueye.
Gueye, signed from Aston Villa in the summer has amassed five yellow cards, triggering an automatic one-game suspension.
Koeman can’t call upon Darron Gibson or James McCarthy as they are both still out injured, so either Tom Cleverley or Tom Davies will partner Gareth Barry.
Building from the back
Last week, Ramiro Funes Mori replaced a rested Phil Jagielka and performed well. Now, Koeman has a decision, recall his captain who has struggled to find his form or keep the Argentine who is susceptible to a mistake. Of course, he could accommodate both in a back three as he looks to combat the Chelsea attack.
Last season, Everton conceded 55 goals. Their defence, which was often porous last campaign, has already been overhauled. John Stones left for Manchester City and was replaced by the steady Ashley Williams. The full backs, whether they be Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman or Coleman and Bryan Oviedo, have less range to attack, often covering the centre-halves.
Koeman cannot take away his fullbacks license to attack, he possesses some of the best attacking full-backs in the Premier League, but they have to defend first and foremost.
A look at the opposition - Chelsea
Antonio Conte’s men come into this game in fine form, winning four of their last four Premier League games without conceding a goal. West Ham proved that they can be beaten but it will take hard work for the full 90 minutes.
Diego Costa, who has troubled Everton since arriving in England, is the obvious danger man. The Spaniard looks to have already shaken off his poor last campaign as he leads the league as the top goalscorer with eight, only one better than Romelu Lukaku.
Chelsea are likely to be unchanged from their impressive 2-0 win over Southampton. A win will keep them in the hunt at the top of the league while a defeat will see Everton gain ground on them, closing Chelsea’s gap to one point.
- A fifth home victory for Chelsea would match their tally at Stamford Bridge for the whole of 2015-16.
- Everton's 2-0 win last week represented their first clean sheet in six league matches. However, they’re still statistically the second best defence in the Premier League.
- Diego Costa has scored three goals in his three league games against Everton.
Everton goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg has overcome a foot injury and should return to the team. Enner Valencia returns after being ineligible for the visit of West Ham, his parent club.
Leighton Baines remains injured.
Cesc Fabregas is once again expected to miss the game for the hosts.