Chelsea face Everton in the English Premier League on Thursday evening. Former Blues coach Rafa Benitez is coming under intense pressure due to a run of seven losses in nine league matches. The hosts are 26 league matches without defeat against the Toffees and will hope to close the gap to Man City with a victory.
The Blues have had a dip in recent results and performances and are five matches without a clean sheet. Even so, they have been beaten just once in 15 matches across all competitions. They drew consecutive home league matches 1-1, against Burnley and Man Utd despite complete domination in both matches.
There last five matches since beating Leicester and Juventus by 3-0 and 4-0 score-lines, have yielded two wins. After the draw with Man Utd, they won 2-1 at Watford before losing 3-2 away at West Ham (having led 2-1). A 3-3 draw away at Zenit Saint Petersburg followed having been 3-2 up after 93 minutes. They bounced back to beat Leeds 3-2 at home but they needed two soft penalties including one in the 94th minute, converted by Jorginho. Leeds deserved to take at least a point from the match.
Chelsea Team News
Thomas Tuchel remains without Ben Chilwell (knee injury) and Mateo Kovacic (COVID-19) for this match. N’Golo Kante and Trevor Chalobah are back from injuries and will be on the bench.
Chelsea are not expected to make many changes in defence with only Andreas Christensen pushing to come in. In attack, there could be some alterations as Romelu Lukaku hopes to start against his former club. Both Hakim Ziyech and Callum Hudson-Odoi are options to start in place of Timo Werner.
Chelsea will go all out to win after Man City increased their lead at the top of the table. Everton look to be a side there for the taking and Tuchel’s side will play at a high intensity and look to score early.
A draw would be seen as a poor result. If leading, Chelsea could take their foot off the pedal and bring on defensive substitutions such as Kante or Chalobah to protect a lead.
Coach Rafa Benitez is under fire after a streak of one win in ten matches. The fast start of 13 starts after six matches is now a distant memory. Injuries have played a big part in their recent demise. Having led 2-1 at home to Watford, they conceded four second half goals to lose 5-2 at home.
3-0 and 1-0 losses to Brentford were quite meek displays before a 4-1 thrashing at the hands of Liverpool. A comeback 2-1 win against Arsenal proved a false dawn as they were thoroughly outclassed for most of their last match, a 3-1 defeat at Crystal Palace. After 63 minutes in that one, Everton had only have 5 shots to 14 and 33% possession.
Everton Team News
With every passing match, Everton’s injuries get worse. Yerry Mina (injury) and Lucas Digne (illness) are out in defence whilst Seamus Coleman is a major doubt. Tom Davies is still absent and now Andros Townsend broke a bone in his foot and will miss a few weeks. Allan has a groin problem but may play through pain.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin is still out and now Richarlison has joined him too due to a calf problem. Salomon Rondon scored against Crystal Palace and will lead the line. Andre Gomes could come into midfield with Anthony Gordon and Demarai Gray as wide players in a 4-3-3.
Everton would take a point in a heartbeat. Benitez is a defensive coach and will sit off Chelsea and block angles.
With so many injuries, Alex Iwobi may be the only regular who can turn the game from the bench. If the Toffees concede first, it won’t be easy to come back.
CFC have lost 1 of their last 15 matches (all comps)
Chelsea have won 6 of their last 9 home PL matches (last five: WWDDW)
Mount has scored in each of his last three PL matches
Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 26 PL home matches against Everton (W15 D11).
Everton have lost 7 of their last 9 PL matches
Everton have lost to nil in 4 of their last 9 PL matches
The Toffees have conceded 19 goals in their last 7 matches
Everton’s injuries and terrible form make Chelsea huge favourites. The defence and attack for the Toffees could be much weaker so backing the Blues on a handicap looks a wise bet.