Two of the Premier League’s three unbeaten sides go head-to-head at Goodison.
It’s not just David Moyes with massive shoes to fill, it would seem. The Toffees’ goalless draw at Cardiff left some critics reminding new boss Roberto Martinez of certain stats: namely that he’s now without a win in 11 Premier League games, and only once in the Moyes era did Everton fail to win one of their opening three games. Yes, but he’s unbeaten as… oh, let’s just move on.
Away from the number-crunching, the affable Spaniard’s week soon got a lot better with some fine additions late in the transfer window, which should create some healthy competition in what was a small squad.
As for the visitors, Jose Mourinho already seems to have tightened things up defensively - Petr Cech’s goal has only been breached once in the Premier League, courtesy of Christian Benteke's moment of magic for Aston Villa. The Portuguese knows as well as anyone that nicking three points in tight away fixtures such as these will make all the difference in the title race, with Chelsea losing five on the road last season.
- Cardiff 0-0 Everton (Prem)
- Everton 2-1 Stevenage (LC)
- Everton 0-0 West Brom (Prem)
- Bayern Munich 2-2 Chelsea (Super Cup, 5-4 pens)
- Man United 0-0 Chelsea (Prem)
- Chelsea 2-1 Aston Villa (Prem)
A few eyebrows were raised in the FFT office when Chelsea agreed to loan out striker Romelu Lukaku to Everton, but the young forward is ineligible against his parent club so will have to make do with watching yet another game from the sidelines. With current Toffees front-man Nikica Jelavic having found the net only once in almost 23 hours of Premier League football, Martinez will no doubt be desperate to unleash his new Belgian beast at the earliest opportunity.
Gareth Barry is another new arrival desperate for some regular first-team football, and he could be thrown straight into action alongside £13 million summer signing James McCarthy as Everton get used to life without Marouane Fellaini.
For Chelsea, it’s unlikely that Mourinho will persist with the experimental formation he started with at Old Trafford in their last away fixture, which included no recognised striker (just imagine the reaction if Rafa Benitez had tried that). The introduction of Fernando Torres in the second half gave the Blues a more cohesive shape, but on Saturday all eyes will be on Samuel Eto’o, who is expected to lead the Chelsea line for the first time. In the week his former team-mate Roberto Carlos declared Eto’o “did everything but play football” at Anzhi
, it’ll be very interesting to see how the 32-year old takes to the Premier League.
Mourinho’s most expensive summer capture was Willian, but shoe-horning him into a midfield that already has no space for Juan Mata could prove difficult. Don’t be surprised to see the £32m Brazilian on the bench – especially with Eden Hazard declared fit despite hobbling out of training while on Belgium duty.
Player to watch: John Terry (Chelsea)
For all Chelsea’s midfield riches, it’s the old boy at the back who’s most impressed for the Blues so far.
At Old Trafford the skipper proved he can still read the game superbly, denying Robin van Persie any real time on the ball as he made 11 impressive clearances on his way to claiming the man-of-the-match award. Whether Terry’s up against Jelavic or Arouna Kone on Saturday, he’ll be full of confidence alongside Gary Cahill. Don’t write him off for club or country quite yet.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- Chelsea 2-1 Everton (Prem, May 13)
- Everton 1-2 Chelsea (Prem, Dec 12)
- Everton 2-0 Chelsea (Prem, Feb 12)
- Everton 1-2 Chelsea (LC, Oct 11)
- Chelsea 3-1 Everton (Prem, Oct 11)
This is the first time the two Iberians have locked horns, and a win against one of the title favourites will leave Martinez with a smile as broad as the one he had on FA Cup final day.
It’s easy to dismiss the Super Cup, but for a trophy hauler such as Mourinho, the dramatic defeat to Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich will have hurt. Having waited two weeks for his side’s next outing, he’ll be keen to get the result out of his system with a win at a difficult venue.
Facts and figures
- The Toffees have averaged the highest possession figure in the 2013/14 Premier League season so far (64.1%).
- Chelsea have won just two of their last 10 Premier League trips to Merseyside (W2 D2 L6).
- Should Everton fail to win this match, it’ll be only the fourth time in the last 43 seasons that the Toffees have not won any of their first four league games of a season.
- Everton have drawn their first three league games of 2013/14 – only three sides in Premier League history have drawn their opening four.
- Romelu Lukaku was the only player in the Premier League last season to score 4+ goals with his left foot, right foot & head. However, he will be ineligible for this game against his parent club.
- During his time at City, only Michael Carrick (8125) attempted more passes than Gareth Barry (7561) in the Premier League.
- The Toffees have averaged 519 passes per game so far under Roberto Martinez in the Premier League – up from 416 per game last season under David Moyes.
- Only West Ham (6) and Everton (5) have allowed fewer opposition shots on target than Chelsea (8) so far this season.
- Roberto Martinez has won just one of his last 11 games as a manager in the Premier League (W1 D6 L4).
- All 10 of the scoring opportunities Eden Hazard has created for his team-mates this season have come from open play.
With Everton failing to fire and the visitors starting to embrace the Mourinho blueprint, a tight away win looks on. 0-1