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Everton at Chelsea: Match Preview

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Everton travel to Stamford Bridge as Romelu Lukaku's returns to his former home

Julian Finney/Getty Images

February 11, 2015 - 7:45 pm BST, 2:45 EST

TV Info - Live Soccer TV

Referee - Jonathan Moss

Assistant Referees - John Brooks and Edward Smart

Fourth Official - Roger East

Everton's game Chelsea earlier this season was probably the team's worst loss of the season. A 6-3 blowout in which little went right against a Chelsea team that currently sits atop the league table. Lukaku didn't score, Besic gifted Chelsea a goal and Tim Howard almost punched Diego Costa. Needless to say, Everton are looking to put forward a better effort this time around.

Team News

Leighton Baines will be a late decision to play after suffering a knee injury and missing the Merseyside Derby. Roberto Martinez opted to start Bryan Ovideo over Luke Garbutt in Baines' absence, but hopefully Martinez won't have to make that decision this time around. Tim Howard is unlikely to play despite his quick recovery from a calf injury and will be joined on the bench by Aiden McGeady who injured his knee in training. Leon Osman and Steven Pienaar are still out with long-term injuries.

The Opposition

Chelsea have opened up a seven point lead at the top of the table after defeating Aston Villa and have not lost a game at home all season. Meaning this will be a tough game for an Everton squad unable to find a rhythm. The sliver of good news is that Chelsea will be without Diego Costa who is currently serving a three game ban for violent conduct after stamping on the leg of Liverpool's Emre Can. However, playmaker Cesc Fabregas is likely to rejoin the team after missing time with a hamstring injury.

Chelsea have been running on all cylinders this season and it will be an incredibly difficult task to beat them at home. Especially when you consider that they reinforced their squad with Colombia winger Juan Cuadrado during the winter transfer window and they are looking as good as ever.

What to Watch For

If Everton have a chance of pulling out any points from this game, they will need to be on top of their defensive game. The central defensive pairing of John Stones and Phil Jagielka has been steadily improving in recent weeks and they will have a tough task ahead of them. However, if they can stay organized it isn't unthinkable that they can limit Chelsea's offensive attack and keep the score low.

After failing to score in the team's first meeting, you have to think that Romelu Lukaku is dying to score a goal against his former club. The striker has had an up and down season, but he finally seems to be putting together a good run as of late and will hopefully notch a goal or two against Jose Mourinho's men.

This is probably going to be an incredibly popular opinion, but here it goes anyway. This is a game that I wish we could have Christian Atsu. Now obviously he is prohibited from playing against his parent club and just played on Sunday, but he just had an amazing run with Ghana and I would love to see that carried over to the club side of things. Atsu was just named MVP of the African Cup of Nations, and despite his utterly poor form with Everton this season, I would not have been opposed to giving Atsu a start to see what he could do. But alas, this will not happen and Aaron Lennon or Steven Naismith is likely to start on the right this week.

The Final Word

I seemed to have used up all my optimism on Saturday against Liverpool because I'm having a tough time seeing how Everton pull out anything more than a draw from this match. Chelsea seem nearly unstoppable this season and boast some of the best attacking players in the world. The hope is that Everton can come out of the gate strong and put  a goal in early and hope to keep the lead but that will be a tough ask. However, if the defense can play like they played last week, it is certainly a possibility.