29th December 2012
Without a doubt this will be the most exciting match of the last Premiership round in 2012 and very important for both Everton and Chelsea. The Toffees will attempt to climb back to the top 4, whereas the Blues need to win at Goodison Park if they are to remain in the title race.
Operating on a very tight budget and with key players leaving the club season after season, David Moyes has done brilliantly to keep Everton in the top third of the English Premier League standings. The Toffees had lacked some quality and cutting edge to join the race for Champions League positions in the past, but everything has changed this season. With the squad heavily reinforced during the past two transfer windows, David Moyes’ side enjoyed a bright start to the league campaign and quickly showed everyone they are serious top 4 contenders. While experiencing some problems during October and November, the Toffees have recovered well from the small dip in form and are now back to their best. Having won three of their last five Premier League fixtures, while sharing spoils with Manchester City and Stoke away, Everton go into this game high on confidence, although some selection problems could damage their chances of extending the excellent run. Marouane Fellaini is serving the final game of his three-match ban, while Seamus Coleman and Darron Gibson are both injury doubts. Kevin Mirallas and Tony Hibbert are definitely out.
Chelsea fans could have been forgiven for feeling hard done by when their nemesis Rafael Benitez was brought to replace fans’ favourite Roberto Di Matteo, while things looked even more disappointing when the Blues failed to win any of first three games under the Spaniard, scoring just one goal in the process. The 3-1 defeat to West Ham at Boleyn Ground, however, seem to have been the turning point of the season, as the Blues have been pretty impressive ever since. They did fail to lift the Club World Cup title, but enjoyed two comfortable victories either side of the 1-0 defeat to Corinthians, before recording a hard-fought win over Norwich in midweek. The Blues now face their toughest Premier League test since hosting Manchester City in the first match of Rafa Benitez’s reign, traveling to Goodison Park to face a side that are still unbeaten at home this season. In their attempt to inflict Everton the first home defeat of the campaign, the Blues will be without John Terry and Oriel Romeu, but Ramires should return to the side.
Everton have been a real force to be reckoned with at their Goodison Park this season and given the good form they are in, the Toffees have every right to hope their unbeaten run will remain intact after this match. Chelsea are showing a lot of improvement at the moment, but I still doubt they can defeat Everton away from home.
Verdict: Draw (X)
Best Odds: 3.30 (23/10)