Everton and Chelsea will both be looking to get back to winning ways when they meet at Goodison Park on Sunday.
A win for the Blues could take them back into the top four, whilst the Toffees will be looking to bounce back from their embarrassing collapse against Newcastle United last time out.
Both Everton boss Marco Silva and Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri have come under intense pressure and scrutiny at times this season but one could get a major boost with victory this weekend.
Ahead of the 4:30pm kick-off, Football FanCast have taken a look at the key areas where this game will be lost and won…
Jorginho has come under fire at times this season for the way he operates at the base of the Stamford Bridge club’s midfield. The 27-year-old lacks pace and is certainly less effective defensively than teammate N’Golo Kante, who Sarri has preferred to deploy in a more advanced role.
He may, then, struggle to cope with the guile and creativity of the Toffees’ No. 10, Gylfi Sigurdsson. The 64-cap Iceland international isn’t the most consistent player but on his day he can dominate matches. If he’s at his best against Chelsea then he has the capacity to make it a very long afternoon for Jorginho indeed.
If Chelsea were more efficient in taking the many chances they create, their top four credentials wouldn’t be in such doubt. However, despite often getting the ball in good areas, they regularly fail to commit enough men forward or find the killer finish when it matters most. The January arrival of Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain has helped somewhat in this regard but Sarri’s side remain wasteful.
Everton, on the other hand, have the opposite problem. The Toffees have been frail at the back all season. What’s more, the likes of Jordan Pickford, Michael Keane and Yerry Mina are prone to the occasional howler.
Sunday will likely become a battle between which side can best offset their flaws – whether Chelsea can find a clinical edge, or Everton can muster up some resilience.
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These aforementioned issues with wastefulness and defensive weakness are exacerbated for both sides when it comes to set pieces. For Everton’s part, defending dead-ball situations has emerged as a real Achilles heel this season. According to WhoScored’s stats, the Toffees have conceded fourteen times from set pieces this season in the Premier League – more than any other team in the division.
Chelsea, on the other hand, have had great difficulty in capitalising on set piece opportunities in an attacking sense. They’ve only scored seven times times from set pieces in the Premier League so far in this campaign – less than any other ‘big six’ side.
If one side is able to improve their record in this department on Sunday then it could go a long way towards deciding the outcome of the match.
If the game is a stalemate, or one side find themselves desperately chasing a goal to get back in it, as the final whistle approaches, then the managers may find themselves turning to their bench in order to find something extra.
Both Everton and Chelsea have exciting young wingers likely to be named amongst their substitutes – Ademola Lookman and Callum Hudson-Odoi respectively. Both would bring pace, drive and flair to the fold, which could make all the difference in the dying moments of this contest.