Everton host Chelsea this weekend and continue the quest for their first win of the season. Chelsea look to extend their unbeaten run by winning against Everton.

Chelsea finished third last season and are aiming to win the title this year.

Roberto Martinez’s side performed exceedingly well last season and came close to jeopardizing Arsenal’s Champions League spot. Martinez looks to continue that run but he needs a win to send a strong message to other teams – his side came agonizingly close to two victories.

Formations and expected line-ups:

Everton vs Chelsea expected lineup
Everton vs Chelsea expected lineup

Both the managers are likely to opt 4-2-3-1 formations. As Diego Costa is injured, Didier Drogba might start. There are doubts over Fernando Torres’ Chelsea future and it is very unlikely that Jose will select the Spaniard ahead of Drogba. Steven Pienaar was injured during Everton’s match against Arsenal last week. So Aiden McGeady might get the nod to play in his natural position on the right wing.

Mourinho’s first test:
Against Everton, Chelsea will face the first hurdle of the season. When Chelsea last visited Everton, they came empty-handed after surrendering 1-0 to Steven Naismith’s header just before half time. Last season Jose Mourinho adopted a defence first strategy and tagged Chelsea as “outsiders” in the title race. Chelsea lost 5 away games in the previous season.

This season, the situation is different – Jose has got the team he wants and the betting experts have piled odds in favour of Chelsea. So will Jose prefer a proactive or reactive strategy? Considering Everton’s performance against Arsenal and their strength in wide areas, Jose might look forward to negate the threat from the flanks and counter-attack. 

Everton’s shape and threats – Chelsea’s answers –

Everton started with a 4-2-3-1 formation and changed to 4-3-3, with Romelu Lukaku on the right flank to take advantage of Arsenal’s weakness.

But Chelsea are defensively very strong and have conceded only none times in 2014. Eden Hazard and Cesar Azpilicueta on Chelsea’s left will be up against Seamus Coleman and Lukaku playing on Everton’s right. This is the region where Everton are strong while attacking, due to the forward runs and goal scoring ability of Coleman, and equally weak while defending.

Coleman has the ability to outpace his markers and Hazard is not so good in tracking back the opposition players. If this is the case, then Azpilicueta will have to single-handedly prevent the threat from Lukaku and Coleman.

Against Arsenal, Coleman’s defensive weaknesses were exposed and both the goals were scored by Arsenal from assists provided from Everton’s right wing. If Coleman is dispossessed higher up the pitch, then Everton will have some serious problems.

Oscar and Andre Schurrle swapped positions against Leicester City last week. Schurrle and Hazard also joined to overload Ritchie de Laet’s right back position. Similar tactic can be expected against Everton. Schurrle drifting to wide areas will drag one of James McCarthy or Gareth Barry along with him. This leaves a gap in the centre and Cesc Fabregas can drop into this region.

Kevin Mirallas might be assigned the duty of checking Branislav Ivanovic’s forward runs – just like he did against Arsenal. Ivanovic can pop into the free space and add more weight Chelsea’s attack.

Key players –

Steven Naismith –

Although Coleman scores all the spectacular goals and gets involved in attack very much, it is Naismith who is like the heart of the team. Last week, he started as centre-forward but as the match progressed, he dropped deep to dismantle Arsenal’s midfield. He linked midfield very well. Also scored a goal. He can cause problems to Chelsea’s central midfielders, Fabregas and Nemanja Matic.

Naismith against Arsenal
Naismith against Arsenal

Eden Hazard –

When Chelsea played Manchester City in Premier League last season (in Etihad stadium), Hazard troubled City’s experienced right back Pablo Zabaleta with his dribbling. So without doubt, Coleman will also have a tough time. He also likes to cut inside and shoot.

Hazard against Leicester City
Hazard against Leicester City
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