Chelsea will aim to consolidate their position at the top of the Premier League table with victory when they host Everton at Stamford Bridge on Saturday (12:45 GMT, live on BT Sport).
The Blues come into the match one point clear of second place Manchester City with 57 points from 17 wins, six draws and three defeats. They are undefeated in their last 11 league matches, but did fall to a 2-0 defeat away to City in the FA Cup last weekend.
It was a disappointing result for a strong Chelsea side, whose defenders were outmanoeuvred by the quality of City’s attacking play and whose attackers failed to produce anything of note over the course of the 90 minutes. Jose Mourinho’s (pictured) side did not muster a single effort on target for the first time this season.
That failure was even more surprising in light of the fact that domination of the shot count, particularly shots on target, has been a hallmark of Chelsea’s season to date. Their shots on target ratio of 0.653 is the best in the Premier League. They are solid defensively and potent on the counter attack.
The Blues currently have the best defensive record in the division and with a strong, deep-lying defence and a dedicated holder in front of them, they are unlikely to relinquish that position in the remainder of the season. The onus then falls on Fernando Torres, Oscar, Samuel Eto’o and the in-form Eden Hazard to provide the necessary goals to secure victories.
Marco Van Ginkel (knee) is Chelsea’s only confirmed absentee for Saturday’s match, with John Terry (muscle) expected to return to the side after three matches on the sidelines.
Everton come into this game wary of the need to achieve a strong result in order to stay in contention for a top four finish. They are sixth in the table, eight points behind Liverpool in fourth, with 45 points from 12 wins, nine draws and four defeats, but do have a game in hand over their local rivals.
It has been an excellent first season at the helm for Roberto Martinez, who has maintained the defensive solidity that was a key part of his predecessor David Moyes’ tenure while also introducing a more possession-based style of play. The players have taken well to his methods and he has continued to introduce new elements as the season has progressed.
While Martinez has only marginally improved the number of goals Everton score (1.48 per match, up from 1.45 under Moyes last season) and concede (1.04 per match, down from 1.05), he has had a more noticeable effect on points gained per match, up from 1.66 to 1.80. Everton are on course to post their best points tally of the Premier League era.
With good organisation and a strong defensive unit, particularly when Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin are employed together in the centre, Everton concede relatively few high quality chances to opponents. Their own scoring record is far from stellar, but they do have some decent attacking options, offering pace, power and trickery in the final third.
Martinez will definitely be without Arouna Kone (knee), Bryan Oviedo (broken leg), Darron Gibson (knee) and Romelu Lukaku (ankle) for this match. Antolin Alcarez (muscle) is expected to return to the squad. Lacina Traore, who scored his first goal for the club in last weekend’s FA Cup win over Swansea, could be in line for a full league debut.
Chelsea vs Everton Betting Tips Verdict
Everton were 1-0 winners when these sides met at Goodison Park earlier this season, but it was Chelsea who emerged victorious, 2-1, in last season’s equivalent fixture. Everton’s last league victory at Stamford Bridge came back in 1994, but they have managed to hold Chelsea to draws in three of their last five league encounters in West London.
Chelsea really kicked into gear over the festive period and have certainly been very impressive defensively over the course of their recent unbeaten run, conceding just four times in 11 matches. They do, at times, struggle to overcome packed defences, but will be relatively confident of scoring the goal or two that should be sufficient for victory in this game.
Everton will look to keep things tight early on, as evidenced by the fact that they have gone in level at half-time in nine of their 13 away matches so far this season. Martinez will instruct his side to keep their shape and discipline, and attack incisively whenever possible, as they did in a slightly unfortunate defeat to Tottenham Hotspur in their last away match.
It will be a close-fought encounter, with chances likely at a premium, but we believe Chelsea have what it takes to secure the three points.
- Back Chelsea to win @ best odds of 8/13 with BetVictor.
- There was a solitary goal in the match between these sides earlier in the season. Five of Chelsea’s seven and five of Everton’s eight matches against fellow top six sides this season have ended with two or fewer goals and we expect to see a similarly tight match on Saturday. Therefore, back under 2.5 goals @ best odds of evens with William Hill.