Everton will look to make three wins on the spin when they take on Chelsea at Goodison Park.
Toffees fans are still buzzing after that thrilling win over Newcastle on Thursday that lifted the club out of the Premier League relegation zone just 20 days after that 10-point deduction.
If Luton lose to champions Manchester City on Sunday then Everton could open up a four point hap between themselves at the bottom three with a victory of the Londoners, vital breathing space that could help everyone relax a bit.
The points deduction seems to have galvanised the club both on and off the pitch. There is a togetherness, spirit in adversity and unity between the players, management and fans not seen for a very long time.
There is still plenty of work to be done, but if the side can maintain this momentum they should be more than good enough to pull clear of relegation and set a solid platform for a brighter future.
Everton’s 10-point deduction for a £20m breach of profit and sustainability rules looks even more harsh when compared to the sheer scale of the lavish spending that has taken place at Chelsea in the last two years.
The club has spent more than £900m in just three transfer windows since Todd Boehly took over the club, putting players in seven or eight year contracts to try and amortise the transfer fees for as long a time as possible.
The only issue with that strategy is it has to bring instant success in the form of Champions League qualification and/or trophies or those payments will start to catch up with them.
They finished a lowly 12th last season, their lowest finish since 1994, in a disaster of a campaign that saw them go through three managers in Thomas Tuchel, Graham Potter and a certain Frank Lampard.
Despite further heavy investment and the appointment of Mauricio Pochettino in the summer things have got off to a patchy start this time round. The club head to Goodison in 10th place, though they would be below Everton in 11th without the Toffees’ deduction. Nowhere near what was expected given the level of spending.
They have won just two of their last seven league games, including their last two away, though they are looking to win successive matches at Goodison for the first time since 2008 after their win on the opening day of last season.
Chelsea 2-2 Everton, 18 March 2023
Everton picked up a vital point in their battle to avoid the drop thanks to Ellis Simms’ last minute equaliser at Stamford Bridge.
Everton are hoping midfielder James Garner will be fit to return after he pulled out of the Newcastle match just hours before kick-off after falling ill. Amadoua Onana is still doubtful as he continues his recovery from a calf injury.
Seamus Coleman and Jordan Pickford will be assessed after picking up knocks against Newcastle.
Andre Gomes and Dele Alli are still sidelined.
What they said
Everton manager Sean Dyche: “I saw them at Old Trafford and they regathered themselves, I thought. After a quiet first half, they looked like an outfit in the second half.
“[Pochettino] is definitely a manager I respect. It seems to me that he’s making changes and finding different ways to work with the players. Sometimes that takes time. It did at Tottenham when he was there.
“They’ve still got very good players and I don’t think you spend all that money with a good manager who is knowledgeable, and don’t get some kind of outcome, so we have to make sure we’re ready.”
Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino: “When you build a team in the Premier League you need to pay attention to height.
“It’s not that we are going to defend better if we have taller players, but the balance is important. Their height can be a problem, but we need to be more aggressive and try to avoid conceding chances from corners or wide free-kicks.
“We need to be clever in the way we are going to work and try to stop them.
“It’s about both organisation and desire. We need to improve. Conceding in this way makes me upset.”
Despite Chelsea’s struggles they possess a lot of talented players so this will be a tough game, especially coming just three days after that physical encounter with Newcastle. Everton do not possess a big squad so there is unlikely to be much rotation, meaning fatigue could be an issue. It is however a huge chance to put some daylight between themselves and the bottom of the table, easing some of the pressure that was dumped on them by that dramatic points deduction last month.