Verdict: Away win
Best odds: 4/7
The Premier League returns this weekend with a blockbuster Saturday in which every single team, except Arsenal and Liverpool, are playing on Saturday. With Christmas just around the corner, every side will want to give their fans an early present, with the faithful at Goodison Park being treated to a big game as Chelsea visit to take on Everton.
Everton’s fans will not be in need of any presents on the 25th, such has been the near-miracle like rejuvenation in recent weeks. Sam Allardyce has come in and he has taken the side from one that was staring at the most unlikely of relegation battles and transformed them into a team that is once again looking at how high they can go, and what they can achieve. The Toffees are currently sitting in ninth-place in the league with 25 points, now 10 clear of the relegation zone, and, incredibly, Everton are just nine points short of arch-rivals Liverpool and the last Champions League place. Of course, things will have to go Everton’s way massively if they are to elevate themselves to the lofty heights of fourth-place, but it seems anything is possible with Everton a completely different team to the one that started the season under Ronald Koeman. Despite their awful start, they have managed to win seven times this season which has been offset by seven defeats and four draws. 24 goals scored is a fairly good record, but they have conceded 30 times already this season, and this would have been much more had it not have been for the performances of Jordan Pickford in goal. Allardyce has been able to add his trademark defensive ability to the side, while they have been indebted to the rejuvenation of Wayne Rooney, who is back amongst the goals and leading the side in the way the fans had hoped he would. Goodison Park was a place that almost every team in the league could go to and win earlier in the season, but it is now back to the fortress that it once was, and Allardyce has the supporters and players dreaming of bigger and better things.
Yannick Bolasie could make his long-awaited return after a year out with injury, but Allardyce must contend with a large injury list. The likes of Leighton Baines (calf), Ramiro Funes Mori (knee), Seamus Coleman (leg), Ross Barkley (hamstring), James McCarthy (hamstring) and Maarten Stekelenburg (groin) are all out.
This has not been the season many had envisaged for the reigning champions. The fans would have assumed they would face a far sterner challenge than last season, with the likes of Manchester City and Manchester United looking to run them closer than they did last year, while Tottenham would surely continue their rise. However, three of the four have faltered, while City have proved themselves the best side in the division, with some claiming Chelsea should hand the trophy over to Pep Guardiola before the year has even changed. Of course, Chelsea have not been bad, with 12 wins, two draws and four losses constituting a fairly good campaign, but they have been blown out of the water by City, who are 14 points clear of the Blues. It seems as though the title is well out of their reach now, and Antonio Conte’s men should focus on what they can control, which is keeping their Champions League spot out of the hands of those below them. 32 goals scored is a fairly good return, while they have conceded 14 times which is also a decent record. Where the Blues need to improve is with regard to their consistency, as they all too often let a good run of form end in a very disappointing defeat. Everton constitute a very firm test, and they will not be taking Allardyce’s men lightly, as they will look to take advantage of any complacency from the Blues. Expect the two to play out a very intriguing game, but goals may be at a premium as the two sides are far more defensively predicated than others in the league.
David Luiz (knee) is still out, while Alvaro Morata is in danger of being banned if he picks up another yellow card.
In Chelsea’s last four games against Everton, they have won with an aggregate scoreline of 12-1.
Everton are unbeaten in their last six game (W 5, D 1).
Chelsea have lost just one of their last 11 games in all competitions (W8, D2, L1)
The last league game between the two at Goodison Park ended in a 3-0 win for Chelsea.
In their last five games, Everton have taken more points (13) than Chelsea (12).
This will be a huge game at Goodison, and it is not likely to be particualrly high scoring unless the two managers set up in an offensive manner that they are not really known for. Everton’s rejuvenation in recent weeks will see them compete for every 50-50 and every lost ball, but Chelsea are likely to have too much for them as they look to maintain what little pressure they have over Manchester City.
Verdict: Away win
Best odds: 4/7
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!