Two of the Premier League’s remaining three undefeated sides square off on Saturday when Everton host Chelsea at Goodison Park (17:30 BST, live on Sky Sports 1) .
Everton have started the season with three consecutive draws, the last two of which were goalless, but having bolstered his squad with a few transfer deadline day additions, new manager Roberto Martinez (pictured) will be hopeful of kicking on in the coming weeks.
Martinez was relegated with Wigan last season but was given an opportunity to remain in the top flight when Everton lost long-serving manager David Moyes to Manchester United. Moyes led the club to seven consecutive top eight finishes and will be a tough act for Martinez to follow.
The Spaniard employed a possession-based brand of football at Wigan (and at Swansea before that) and there have already been signs that his techniques are catching on at his new club. Everton have recorded the highest average share of possession (61.4%) in the league so far this season.
Ross Barkley has been the most obvious beneficiary of the switch to a more technical style of play. He scored in the opening day 2-2 draw away at Norwich and has shown himself to be very comfortable in possession, setting up five efforts on goal and completing over 92% of his passes. An England call-up was just reward for his early season displays.
But while Everton have been neat and tidy up to a point, they have lacked a killer edge in front of goal, scoring just twice despite attempting more shots than any other side in the league. The arrival on loan of Chelsea’s Belgian international striker Romelo Lukaku, who scored 17 goals for West Brom last season, should go some way towards rectifying that.
The terms of Lukaku’s loan agreement prevent him from taking to the field on Saturday, but otherwise Martinez has a full squad to pick from, with those who were away on international duty over the past week having returned relatively unscathed.
Chelsea come into the fixture having recorded two home wins and an away draw against Manchester United in their three Premier League matches to date. They are currently second in the nascent table, two points shy of leaders Liverpool.
It has been a solid start to life back at Stamford Bridge for Jose Mourinho, who returned to the club he managed successfully between 2004 and 2007 this summer after a mixed three years at Real Madrid. The likes of Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard, John Terry and Petr Cech remain from his first spell in charge and he appears to have been well received.
Mourinho’s team were typically well-organised in defence during their 0-0 draw with Manchester United in their last Premier League fixture, with Gary Cahill and John Terry forming a strong central partnership. The match was far from a spectacle, but it was nevertheless a good result at this early stage of the campaign.
Mourinho used wide forward Andre Schurrle as a lone central striker against United, perhaps, in part, to make a point to owner Roman Abramovich about his lack of top class options up front. The signing of former Barcelona and Internazionale striker Samuel Eto’o was rubber-stamped shortly afterwards.
Eto’o and Mourinho enjoyed a fruitful relationship at Inter and with a myriad of inventive attacking midfielders – including Willian, another new signing – behind him to lay on chances, Eto’o seems well primed to make a strong impact in the Premier League, even at the ripe old age of 32.
Eden Hazard is expected to shrug off an achilles injury picked up on international duty to play a part on Saturday, while Eto’s is also likely to be involved despite limping out of Cameroon’s 1-0 victory over Libya. Jon Obi Mikel was rested from Nigeria’s friendly win over Burkino Faso on Tuesday and should also be fit to take part.
Everton v Chelsea Betting Tips Advice
Chelsea won last season’s corresponding fixture 2-1, but Everton have otherwise been strong at home to the Blues in recent years, recording three victories in the last five meetings between the sides at Goodison Park.
Everton have used possession to establish control and limit the number of shots taken by their opponents so far this season, giving up less average shots on goal per match (6.3) than any other side in the division. They will struggle to dominate to quite the same degree against Chelsea, but we still expect to see a tight match with chances at a premium.
With new arrivals Gareth Barry and James McCarthy respectively adding solidity and energy to Everton’s midfield, they have enough about them to challenge Chelsea and come away with a point.
- Bet on the the draw @ biggest betting odds of 12/5 with Bet365, Coral or SkyBet.
- Four of the six matches these two sides have been involved in so far this season have ended with two or less goals, as did five of the eight meetings between them in Mourinho’s last spell as Chelsea boss. Back under 2.5 goals @ best odds of 4/5 with BetVictor, Stan James or Ladbrokes.