It is fair to say that both sides have had a pretty slow start to the new campaign, but while the Toffees took four points from three very difficult games since the opening draw with Watford, Chelsea have already suffered three unexpected slip-ups and are desperate to return to winning ways at Goodison Park.
Everton chiefs were heavily criticised for the lack of ambition shown in the past few transfer windows and up until the end of the summer transfer dealings, the fans had plenty of reason to be angry with the board. However, the Toffees did make amends near the end of the summer window, having first rejected numerous Chelsea bids for starlet John Stones, before securing deals for Aaron Lennon, Ramiro Funes Mori and Leandro Rodriguez. And while the season also had a disappointing start, with Roberto Martinez’s side narrowly escaping home defeat to Watford, the team have since shown considerable improvement, taking four points from away games vs Saints and Spurs, while giving a good account of themselves in the 2-0 loss to leaders Manchester City. This new-found confidence should keep Everton in good stead for the visit of out-of-sorts Chelsea, although lack of the cutting edge in opposition box may deny them a chance to record what would be a very important win. The most important thing though is that the Toffees are again becoming rock-solid at the back and that is the foundation most of their recent successes were built on. While Brendan Galloway has recovered from injury, new signings are all in contention, but Bryan Oviedo faces a fitness test.
The Premier League holders were again seen by many as the main candidates for the coveted trophy, but they instead experienced all sorts of problems at the start of the new campaign. The Blues just could not hit the ground running, dropping five points at home against Swansea and Crystal Palace, while having their bus completely trashed by title rivals Manchester City at the Etihad. The only positive so far has been the away win over West Bromwich, but that is small comfort for such a disappointing start. The biggest problem at the moment is the poor form of important players Eden Hazard, Diego Costa, Nemanja Matic and Branislav Ivanovic, and it remains to be seen whether the international break will help the Blues return to the right track. With his side having leaked goals for fun in the opening exchanges, Jose Mourinho will probably do his best to ensure the trend does not continue, and the impressive Asmir Begovic will be given another chance to shine after it was revealed that Thibaut Courtois would undergo a surgery on his knee. Oscar is another player to miss out through injury, but captain John Terry returns.
Everton appear to have stabilised their back line and will give their best to prevent Chelsea from scoring, even if that is not going to be an easy job. The Blues may desperately need a win, but they know better than to attack the opposition from the off, and everything suggests we are going to see a low-scoring encounter.
Verdict: Under 2.5 goals
Best Odds: 4/5
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