Chelsea v Everton – Match Preview

Chelsea's Ground Stamford BridgeChelsea will be looking to continue their excellent form by taking all three points against Everton who are looking to bounce back from their Merseyside derby defeat to Liverpool a fortnight ago.

Andre Villas-Boas’ side have started the season in superb fashion especially on home soil and go into the game protecting a 100% record at Stamford Bridge. Early reservations that the 34-year-old former Porto coach would struggle have been washed away with the Portuguese native revitalising the Blues. The likes of Juan Mata, Raul Meireles and Daniel Sturridge have been tremendous thus far and their youthful vitality has seen Villas-Boas find the right blend with the senior members of the squad. Frank Lampard has benefitted the most from his management and talk of the England midfielder being past his best were quickly dismissed with four goals in the week before the international break. The 33-year-old struck in the Champions League away at Valencia before butting Bolton to the sword scoring a hat trick as Chelsea hit the next six times at the Reebok Stadium. One concern though remains around the defence with the Blues yet to keep a clean sheet in the league since the opening day and their record against Everton isn’t the best. The last five meetings in West London have ended in draws whilst they haven’t beaten David Moyes’ side since winning 1-0 back in 2008. With Fernando Torres still suspended Sturridge, Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka will be fighting it out to start up front with the young Englishman the most likely having scored twice against Trotters two weeks ago.

As for the Toffee’s they’ve lost their last two and will be looking to avoid losing three games on the trot for the first time since November 2009. They will be boosted by the news that Jack Rodwell’s red card has been rescinded and he will be free to play in his 100th Everton game at Stamford Bridge. The England under-21 midfielder was harshly sent off for a robust challenge on Luis Suarez in the Merseyside derby which they lost 2-0. Scoring goals continues to be their achilles heel with Louis Saha and Tim Cahill looking short of confidence up front. The latter has failed to hit the net in 2011 but has a decent record against Chelsea so will fancy his chances of ending his barren run. Saha on the other hand has had his differences with Moyes already this season and despite patching them up age seems to be catching up on the 33-year-old Frenchman. They’ll need to start scoring on Saturday if they want to continue their impressive run against the Blues which has seen them remain unbeaten in the last six meetings.

Key Players

Juan Mata – What a signing the Spaniard has been with his £22 million move from Valencia already looking like shrewd business. Mata has injected a touch of class to the Chelsea midfield with his intelligent passing and movement making him difficult to mark. His ability to glide into space has given the Blues an extra dimension to their attack and they’ll be expecting more of the same from him on Saturday.

Leighton Baines – One of the more consistent players for Everton over the last few seasons the England left back performs key duties in both defence and attack. Likely to be up against the pacey Jose Boswinga and Ramires he’ll have to have his defensive hat on to cope with the duo. Given the chance to get forward his trusty left foot will be tasked with providing quality balls for Saha and Cahill to get on the end of and give the Toffee’s a fighting chance of claiming some much needed points.

Verdict: 3-1

  • Chelsea hit their stride in their last outing, hitting 5 past Blackburn in a 5-1 victory. Chelsea covered a total of 123.8km in that game, with evergreen midfielder Frank Lampard covering 12.3km, second only to Raul Meireles with 13.1km
  • Lampard’s hat trick moved him up 87 places in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index to 10th overall, and the 2nd highest ranking English midfielder after Ashley Young. He now joins Gabriel Agbonlahor as the joint 4th top scorer in the Barclays Premier League and is the highest scoring midfielder. Lampard has also won 57% of tackles and contributed two assists
  • Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka are Everton’s top ranked players in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index in 91st and 92nd place respectively. Baines has won 77% of tackles so far this season while Jagielka is still yet to lose a tackle all season
  • Baines has also contributed to his side’s attack, putting in 15 crosses so far this season