Everton v Chelsea - Match Preview

So after nine long often torrid months Everton’s season comes to an end against deposed Premier League Champions Chelsea.

With little riding on the game the period of reflection has already started, with Everton fans wondering just what went wrong yet again in the first half of the season and what – with finances limited – David Moyes and the rest of the Everton hierarchy can do about it.

But before we delve deep into that conversation we can at least look forward to one last 90 minutes of football and a chance to secure 7th place, a position that looked highly unlikely a few months ago. They could lose and still hang on to 7th place, though that would require Arsenal to take points away from 8th placed Fulham at Craven Cottage.

Like Everton, Chelsea will also look back on the season with disappointment. The 2010 double winners began the campaign on fire and looked well set to retain their title in the autumn, before a dramatic mid season collapse saw them drop out of the Champions League positions.

The £50million capture of Fernando Torres failed to spark the revival required to topple Manchester United and Roman Abramovich’s notoriously itchy trigger finger is poised to strike yet again (the price Chelsea have to pay for all of the Russian’s riches I guess).

It is nearly exactly two years since Everton wilted in the Wembley sunshine in the FA Cup final against Chelsea, but the Toffees can take consolation in the fact they have yet to lose against the Londoners since. Louis Saha was famously the hero last season at Goodison with both goals in a 2-1 come-from-behind win. Earlier this campaign Jermaine Beckford grabbed a late equaliser to secure a 1-1 at the Bridge in the Premier League. It was the same score in February’s FA Cup clashes, with Everton famously progressing on penalties.

It is always hard to predict what will happen in these end-of-season games because as much as they deny it some of the players will already be in holiday mode. Hopefully David Moyes will drill into his players the importance of finishing on a high, to give the suffering supporters something to take into the summer months at least.

A close season of self-reflection and possibly some difficult decisions await, but a win over Carlo Ancelotti’s men will at least see us enter that period with a slither of optimism.

Team news wise Diniyar Bilyaletdinov will miss out after his red card last week. Tim Cahill is also set to stay on the sidelines as he battles to overcome a niggling foot injury. Victor Anichebe, who to be fair has improved in recent games, will probably start up front. You never know he may even get a goal. Ok perhaps not.

For Chelsea Yossi Benayoun and Ramires are out due to hamstring problems and Jose Bosingwa due to a knee complaint.

If I was going to make a prediction I would say 1-1 and the chance to put an inconsistent season to bed in order to look towards the difficult decisions that lie ahead.

Head-to-head

    * Everton ended a run of 18 Premier League games and 24 in all competitions without a win against Chelsea when they won 2-1 at Goodison Park last season. They also beat the Blues on penalties in the FA Cup fourth-round replay in February.
    * Prior to that league win in February 2010, Chelsea had not lost in eight league visits to Everton stretching back to 2000.
    * Everton are unbeaten in their last five league games with Chelsea.
    * Six out their last eight league meetings have ended in draws, with one win to either side.

Everton

    * Everton have lost only two of their last 11 league outings.
    * They are the only side not to record successive defeats in the top flight this season.
    * They have conceded the opening goal in their last four games.
    * The Toffees have only lost five out of 18 league matches in 2011.
    * They are undefeated at Goodison since a 4-1 reverse to West Brom on 27 November last year.

Chelsea

    * The Blues go into this match on 71 points and can reach a maximum of 74. This is their lowest total since recording 67 points in the 2002/03 season when they finished fourth.
    * They are yet to lose a league game in which they scored the opening goal this season (W16, D3).
    * Didier Drogba has scored seven goals in 10 Premier League appearances against Everton.
    * Chelsea defenders have scored 11 goals in the league this season, more than any other club's backline.

Referee: Peter Walton

Assistant referees: Ron Ganfield & Glenn Turner

Fourth official: Scott Mathieson

 

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