Chelsea can make it five wins on the bounce when they welcome Ronald Koeman’s Everton outfit to Stamford Bridge this weekend (5.30pm Saturday on BT Sport 1).
Antonio Conte’s side made it four victories and four clean sheets from their last four Premier League encounters with a 2-0 defeat of Southampton last time out. It was a thoroughly impressive and professional performance from the Blues, who took the lead early on through Eden Hazard (pictured) and then sank back into their own half, denying their opponents time and space before looking to pinch the ball and breaking forward on the counter-attack.
Chelsea have looked extremely good since ditching the 4-1-4-1 formation they employed at the start of the campaign and switching to a 3-4-3 setup, which has brought the best out of a number of the club’s players, including Hazard, N’Golo Kante, Nemanja Matic, Gary Cahill, David Luiz and Victor Moses, who has been a revelation in a new wing-back role.
Everton also triumphed in their previous encounter, beating West Ham United 2-0 in front of their own supporters at Goodison Park. That success ended a run of five matches without a win in all competitions for the Toffees, who remain in sixth place in the standings as the campaign enters its second quarter.
It is easy to detect a greater degree of pragmatism to Everton’s play under Koeman compared to predecessor Roberto Martinez, who oversaw some excellent attacking football but also some calamitous defending during his tenure on Merseyside. The balance certainly appears to be much closer to what it should be so far this term. Everton will still be hoping to gatecrash the top six in 2016/17, and their start to the season shows that may not be such an unrealistic objective.
Chelsea will probably have to make do without midfielder Cesc Fabregas once again, although the Spain international would almost certainly not have been included in Conte’s starting XI even if he was fit and available for selection. The former Juventus boss will be tempted to stick with the same team that overcame Southampton at St Marys so comfortably. That would see David Luiz, Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta forming the three-man backline, Kante and Matic providing energy and drive in the engine room, and Hazard and Pedro supporting lone striker Diego Costa from the flanks.
Everton cannot field Arouna Kone, James McCarthy, Mo Besic, Matthew Pennington and Tyias Browning, but goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg could return to the starting line-up after missing the victory over West Ham with a foot injury. Romelu Lukaku will lead the line ahead of Kevin Mirallas and Yannick Bolasie on the wings, while Gareth Barry and Idrissa Gueye will be vital if Everton are to avoid being overrun in midfield. Phil Jagielka could return at centre-half in place of Ramiro Funes Mori, who is still prone to making defensive errors in the heart of the backline.
Our Preview’s Chelsea v Everton Betting Tips Verdict
This preview concludes that Chelsea can come out on top once more, although their run of four straight shut-outs at the back may come to an end. Conte’s charges are playing some excellent football at present and look very strong at both ends of the pitch. Everton are likely to find it difficult to contain an attack featuring the Premier League’s top scorer in Costa and one of its best players in Hazard.
The correct score of a 2-1 home victory is our preferred betting tips’ selection, while it could also be worth backing Lukaku to find the net when he lines up against his former employers.