Chelsea and Everton will face off at Goodison Park on Saturday. This match comes right in the middle of a nightmarish nine game stretch for Everton, that includes the top eight teams from last season. So far, Everton have been able to collected 5 points, but are still looking for their first home win. Their most recent point came in a lackluster 0-0 draw at Tottenham. The reigning champion comes into this matchup sitting at just four points. In their most recent league game, Chelsea suffered a disappointing defeat at the hands of Crystal Palace.
Coming into this match, Everton are fortunate enough to not have sustained any new injuries during the international break. That said, the team is still without star player Leighton Baines and have several late fitness tests to contend with. If Everton can stay strong at the back and keep their width in the buildup play, they have a decent chance of coming away with points in this one.
Preferred Formation: 4-2-3-1
Tim Howard was one of the last Everton players to arrive back at training from international break. There shouldn’t cause any problems with his late arrival given that he wasn’t involved for the United States in either of their two games. Howard heroics against Spurs were one of the few bright spots for the team and instrumental in saving the point for Everton. The Toffees may need similar heroics again with the offensive skill Chelsea has at their disposal.
Barring a freak injury, look for Howard to once again be between the sticks for Everton.
Seamus Coleman is a vital part of the Everton backline. The Irish star not only provides defensive prowess, but also offers attacking potential down the right flank. With the likelihood of Hazard attacking Everton’s right flank, the team is going to need Coleman at his best.
Coleman is a no brainer selection and will be Everton’s right back on Saturday.
New boy Ramiro Funes Mori adds much needed depth to the center of defense for Everton. That said, he’s unlikely to unseat either John Stones or Phil Jagielka. The duo are likely to once again take up position in front of Howard.
Throughout the game, the fans will likely remind Mourinho that Stones is still an Everton player by emphatically singing “money can’t buy Stones”. I think we’ll see an inspired performance from the youngster this weekend.
Good news for Everton, Martinez has said today that he believes Brendan Galloway will be fit to play this weekend against Chelsea. Unfortunately, it seems that Oviedo is going to miss the match because of an ongoing knee problem. If neither Galloway nor Oviedo are able to go, we might see Funes Mori fill in on the left. During his tenure with River Platter, the Argentine spent some time on left and is fairly confident on the left. However, Chelsea would be quite the test for him since he hasn’t seen any Premier League playing time yet.
If Oviedo misses because of injury, I think Galloway is the better option here.
Everton has three choices in the defensive midfield between Gareth Barry, James McCarthy, and Muhammed Besic. McCarthy and Barry have been Martinez’s clear choices at these positions and I don’t see that changing this weekend. I would like to see Besic get some more starts for the club this season, but against Chelsea it’s probably best to go with the more experienced players.
With Tom Cleverley expected to be out for the next couple months, the left wing duties will likely fall to Kevin Mirallas. I’m excited to see Mirallas brought back into the starting lineup. His offensive flair and set piece abilities should be very beneficial to Everton in this game.
The right wing has become Everton’s deepest position with Arouna Kone, Gerard Deulofeu and the recently signed Aaron Lennon all vying for the starting role. So far, Kone has been the clear choice for Martinez making the last three league starts in this position. However, for this game, I think the best choice would be Lennon. By choosing Lennon, Everton give up a slight amount of attacking potential, but his defensive abilities are far superior to Deulofeu and Kone. In an interview with Everton TV, Martinez has said that he expects Lennon to be “involved one way or another at the weekend.”
With some question marks still looming about his overall match fitness, Lennon might be better used as a second half sub for this game. If that’s the case, I would like to see Deulofeu get his first start of the season. A more natural fit for the role than Kone, the Spaniard offers greater midfield possession, passing and positioning. If Deulofeu gets the start, I expect him to serve up some great crosses for the men in the middle.
Center Attacking Midfielder
Ross Barkley will be retaining his role behind the striker this weekend. Barkley is in good form at the moment and I’m looking for him to continue to produce offensive returns against Chelsea. The England man’s possession, dribbling and long shot ability should give the Chelsea’s defense plenty of fits.
Two other options available at this position are Leon Osman and Steven Naismith. While both of them are solid options, Barkley form makes him the clear choice in this situation.
I can’t think of any reason that Martinez would field anyone other than Lukaku up top. The Belgium has been great so far with four goals in all competitions for the club this season. Because of Lukaku’s size and dribbling abilities, he is a very hard to knock off the ball, making defending him a tall order. Other options at Everton’s disposal are Steven Naismith and Arouna Kone.
For me Lukaku definitely gets the start and I think the ex-Chelsea man plays with a chip on his shoulder for this one.