Expect an even encounter when Everton host Chelsea at Goodison Park on Saturday (17:30 BST, live on Sky Sports).
Everton began the season with a 2-2 draw away to Leicester City and followed that with another draw by the same scoreline at home to Arsenal last weekend. They ended last season in fifth place and will hope to secure another top six finish this time around.
The Toffees made a superb start against Arsenal. Seamus Coleman headed them into the lead inside 20 minutes before Steven Naismith doubled their advantage on the cusp of half-time. They created a couple of chances to extend their lead after the break, but Arsenal forced them back and rescued a point with two strikes in the final 10 minutes of play.
It was a disappointing end to a match that had begun so brightly for Roberto Martinez’s side and one that will have caused him some concern after also witnessing his team give up a late equaliser to Leicester on the opening weekend. Everton seemed to run out of energy after the hour mark and were unable to withstand the subsequent barrage on their goal.
Everton have a solid structure, with two defensive midfielders providing a platform that allows the full-backs to get forward in support of a highly active attacking midfield and forward line. They play neat, attractive and generally effective football, but can be caught out by quick transitions and seem to struggle when defending a lead.
Martinez will be without the injured Arouna Kone (knee), Bryan Oviedo (broken leg), Ross Barkley (knee) and Steven Pienaar (groin) for Saturday’s match, while the terms of Christian Atsu’s loan from Chelsea prevent him from playing against his parent club. A lack of match fitness could restrict new signing Samuel Eto’o, formerly of Chelsea, to the bench.
Chelsea finished third in the Premier League last season, but are currently the bookies’ favourites to win this year’s title. They have enjoyed a relatively easy start to the campaign, recording consecutive two-goal victories over newly promoted Burnley and Leicester.
Jose Mourinho’s (pictured) side laboured a little in the latter match, going in 0-0 at half-time following a first half in which they had struggled to find their rhythm and were unable to muster a single shot on target. They played with much greater pace and purpose after the break and emerged victorious thanks to goals from Diego Costa and Eden Hazard.
Chelsea’s summer transfer business has undoubtedly improved last season’s squad. Cesc Fabregas has added both energy and quality to their midfield and has already established a strong partnership with January purchase Nemanja Matic. Felipe Luis is a highly competent left-back, while Costa is the strong and mobile striker they were crying out for.
The Blues had the best defensive record in the league last season, conceding just 27 goals over the course of the campaign, but they did at times struggle to break down sides who were content to sit back and allow them possession. The new signings should allow for a continuation of that defensive solidity while also providing additional incision in attack.
Mourinho could be without Costa for the trip to Merseyside after the striker pulled up with a hamstring injury during training on Wednesday. Andre Schurrle was taken off injured during the win over Leicester last weekend, but he is expected to be fit in time for Saturday’s match.
Everton vs Chelsea Betting Tips Verdict
Both of last season’s matches between these sides ended in a 1-0 victory for the home team. Indeed, six of the last 10 league matches between them have been settled by a single goal, while two have been drawn. Everton have, however, regularly enjoyed the upper hand on home soil, having won four of the last five league fixtures at Goodison Park.
Everton will probably feel that they deserved more than two points from their first two matches of the campaign. They began both matches on the front foot and led on both occasions (twice against Leicester) before being pegged back in the second half. If they can maintain their energy and concentration levels they are capable of a good result on Saturday.
Chelsea have made a good start to the season and look a strong and well-balanced team. They were somewhat unfortunate to come away pointless from last season’s equivalent fixture, with only the profligacy of their forwards counting against them. After strengthening their attack over the summer, Chelsea will be confident of a better outcome this time around.
We expect this to be a relatively cagey match, with a draw the most likely result.
- Back the draw @ best odds of 5/2 with Betfred.
- Chelsea kept things very tight in the early stages away from home last season, conceding just five times before half-time. Just 31.82% of the goals they scored and conceded away from home came in the first 45 minutes of play. 56.14% of the goals in Everton’s home matches were scored after half-time. Back the second half to be the highest scoring half @ 23/20 with BetVictor or Betfair Sportsbook.