The Blues kick off the weekends Premier League action with a Saturday lunch time trip to the capital to take on Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea. The Londoners currently occupy top spot in the table but Roberto Martinez will ensure his Everton team travel without fear as they look to use last weekends FA Cup win over Swansea to reignite their push for Champions League football next season.
Although the Toffees currently sit eight points behind Liverpool, they do have a game in hand on the Reds and will know that fortunes can change very quickly, especially in this season of changeable results. A surprise win on Saturday would provide the Blues with the confidence to finish the season with a flourish and with a kinder run of fixtures following this match, the table could look very different by the end of March.
Despite the Blues struggling against the Sky four in recent years, the record against Chelsea is relatively good. The last 15 matches between the sides, which includes Chelsea 2009 FA Cup Final win, are incredibly even. Five defeats, five draws and 5 wins, one of which was won on penalties, means the two sides can not be separated since the beginning of the 2008-09 season. At Stamford Bridge that record is not quite as strong, but under David Moyes Everton did find a way to avoid defeat, drawing three and winning once on penalties in that same five-year spell. Few Blues will forget the fabulous penalty shoot out win over the Pensioners, with Leighton Baines firing a last-minute free kick equaliser, before Phil Neville won the match from the spot.
Last season, Everton lost out in David Moyes’ final match as Everton manager. An early goal from Juan Mata put Chelsea ahead before Steven Naismith scored a well worked and deserved equaliser. The Blues looked set for a point, before Fernando Torres grabbed a win with just under 15 minutes remaining.
Everton do know how to beat Mourinho’s Chelsea however and earlier in the season another goal from Steven Naismith sealed a 1-0 win over the league leaders. That day Everton were a little fortunate to win, but the positive approach instilled in the side from Roberto Martinez paid dividends, with a resilient defensive performance combined with creativity and a little bit of fortune earned Martinez his first league win in charge of the Blues.
Despite coming in for a little bit of criticism from some sections of the media, Jose Mourinho has remodeled Chelsea into a team capable of winning the Premier League this season. The recent win over Manchester City provided a glimpse of how good this side has become in such a short period of time, but Everton will not travel with fear. Chelsea haven’t looked particularly sharp in attack and with an important Champions League tie against Galatasaray on Wednesday night, Mourinho may be tempted to rest several key players.
If Everton were to emerge victorious from Stamford Bridge they would be the first side to defeat Chelsea under the management of Jose Mourinho. That record runs all the way back to 2004 and the Portuguese first spell in charge of the club.
Everton are able to pick from a relatively large squad of players with just four players absent. Long term injuries Darron Gibson, Arouna Kone and Bryan Oviedo are still out and although he has returned to full training, Romelu Lukaku is ineligible to play against his parent club.
The biggest decision facing Martinez is whether to stick with Lacina Traore in attack who scored a debut goal against Swansea last week, or to pick Steven Naismith who has been in a hot run of form, although his goals have come primarily from the bench.The Scot has an excellent record against Chelsea and has scored in his last two matches against the Londoners.
Possible Starting Team: Howard; Baines, Coleman, Jagielka, Distin; Barry, McCarthy, Barkley; Mirallas, Pienaar; Naismith.
Since the formation of the Premier League Everton have played Chelsea 43 times, winning only 8, drawing 16 and losing 19.
Everton have only lost three away games all season, but have lost two of their last two away from Goodison Park against Liverpool and Tottenham.
Chelsea have not lost a single match at home this season, losing only three times all season.
Everton have won five, lost three and drawn two of their last ten Premier League matches.
Chelsea are unbeaten in their last ten Premier League matches, winning seven and drawing three, although they did lose to Manchester City in the FA Cup last weekend.
The corresponding fixture last season ended 1-2, with Steven Naismith scoring for Everton.
The reverse fixture earlier this season at Goodison Park, ended 1-0, with Steven Naismith scoring the winner shortly before halftime.
Our archive footage comes from late in the 1986-87 season. Everton were pushing for the title and a fabulous goal from Alan Harper sealed a 2-1 win for Howard Kendall’s Everton.