Everton lost some of their momentum after beating Manchester City with a draw at Wigan, but tomorrow have a chance to make it their first two-wins-in-a-row at home since May. Visitors Chelsea will be looking for their first Premiership win at Merseyside since 2008. Ironically enough, the last time the Toffees won two consecutive home games was against the same two opponents. Read the Q&A RBM's own Brian Goodison conducted with Graham MacAree from the excellent Chelsea blog We Ain't Got No History regarding tomorrow's fixture right here.
Their visitors will be wary of what happened to City, with coach Andre Villas-Boas already stating that he would not be underestimating Everton despite the difference in league positions. Everton have always played Chelsea tough, but have struggled to dominate or score, especially in the Premiership. In the away leg of this fixture, Everton ceded over 2/3rds of the possession to Chelsea, and Spaniard Juan Mata reveled in his role and tore the Toffees apart in a 3-1 romp.
Everton are in a mid-table melee with three points separating 8th-12th positions while Chelsea are in fourth place, a distant seven points from third-placed Tottenham. Manager David Moyes does not have the same firepower at his disposal that Sir Alex Ferguson has at Manchester United, and Chelsea will be smarting from giving up a three-goal lead last week at home in the 3-3 draw.
Midfielder Jack Rodwell has had a regression in his recovery from a hamstring injury and will not be involved this weekend. There is little respite otherwise for Moyes on the injury list as Phil Jagielka, Seamus Coleman and Leon Osman are still out. Tim Cahill celebrated the birth of his third son and should be buoyed by the news, hopefully accompanied by his corner flag punching routine.
For Chelsea, Frank Lampard and John Obi Mikel may play while Ashley Cole will be returning from a three-match suspension, John Terry and Ramires are still injured, and Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou are away on international duty at the African Cup of Nations.
Keys To The Game
As much as the fans may clamor for Moyes to be more aggressive in his formations, we can expect more of the same 4-4-1-1 formations we have been seeing, with Marouane Fellaini or Darron Gibson given the job of hounding playmaker Mata. Victor Anichebe has saved Everton's bacon quite a few times scoring timely goals after being brought on as a sub, even though Moyes has been hesitant to use the moniker 'super sub' on him. With three strikers at his disposal, the only scenario when at least two are on the pitch would be if Everton are chasing the game. Everton could have better luck with probing runs via Steven Pienaar and Landon Donovan rather than swinging crosses into the box.
Chelsea left-back Cole has not had the best of seasons and could be targeted by Everton. The rest of defence is pretty solid with Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill and David Luiz, but are prone to giveaways and needless fouls when beaten for pace as last week's game showed. All the midfield action is expected to go through Mata and Michael Essien who have excellent vision going forward.
- Everton have scored only one goal in each of their last six games against Chelsea.
- Darron Gibson hasn't lost in his last twenty Premiership matches with Manchester United & Everton.
- Everton have scored 46% of their goals in the last 15 minutes of matches, the highest in the League.
- Of the last ten games Everton and Chelsea have played in the Premier League, each has won two.
- Striker Fernando Torres has not scored in his last five games against Everton.
- Chelsea have only one win and four draws in their last five games away from Stamford Bridge.