What are the odds?
What’s the background?
It’s testament to just how dominant Chelsea were last season that the fact that they have only picked up four points from their first four Premier League games this season—a great disappointment rather than the unmitigated disaster it has been portrayed—has caused quite as much shock as it has. Chelsea have been nothing like the team that swaggered to the title last season. They are misfiring up front, with a surprisingly suspect defence, and with a number of their star players, such as Hazard and Terry, finding themselves under fire.
The international break can only be good for them. A chance for Mourinho to get his team back to basics, playing in the functional if not fancy style that helped them grind out a series of important results at the tail-end of last season. He will be hoping that his attack finally clicks into gear—and with a front four of Hazard, Willian, Pedro and Diego Costa that really should be sooner rather than later—and that his defence finally gets its act together. Chelsea have conceded 9 goals in their first four matches, the second highest amount in the entire league, below Sunderland. Sunderland.
They will need to be at their very best if they are to win away at Everton. The Toffees appear to have completely recovered from their second season slump under Martinez, and have made a solid start to the campaign, picking up a point on their last outing, away to Spurs. The early highlight of their season remains their utter dismantling of Southampton at St Mary’s, a game in which Romelu Lukaku reached almost unplayable heights, as he contributed two of Everton’s three goals.
He’ll certainly be pumped up for this clash, given his perceived failure at Stamford Bridge, where Mourinho decided to sell him on rather than give him the chance to prove that he was, in fact, ‘the new Drogba’, a moniker which he had been all too eager to christen himself with. A match-winning performance against his former club would go some way to proving Mourinho wrong. Tom Cleverly will miss out, however, after sustaining ligament damage in the match against Tottenham.
What are the expected lineups?
Everton (4-2-3-1): Howard, Coleman, Stones, Jagielka, Barry, McCarthy, Besic, Kone, Barkley, Lennon, Lukaku
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Courtois, Ivanovic, Cahill, Zouma, Azpilicueta, Fabregas, Matic, Willian, Pedro, Hazard, Costa
What are the main talking points?
• Will Gareth Barry be moved into defence again?
• Will Mourinho persist with the team that has been letting him down?
• How will the international break impact on both sets of players?
• For how long will Mourinho persist with Kurt Zouma?