The English Premier League returns this weekend after the international break and the biggest clash of the round sees Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea travel to Goodison Park to face Everton, in an effort to keep the pressure on log leaders Liverpool. Everton haven’t had as good a start as their opponents have had in the league and will be out to prove that last year’s relative success under Moyes can be replicated under new coach Martinez.
To Win (90mins)
The Toffees have drawn their three matches under coach Roberto Martinez so far. Two of those have been goalless draws, with many fans increasingly concerned about the effectiveness of Roberto Martínez’s passing game. Evertonians who are accustomed to a power-based, high-tempo approach under David Moyes, are starting to believe the familiar criticism against his successor – that his charges pass for the sake of it, getting nowhere. That was the problem when they were held 0-0 at home to West Brom and again in their last match, which was a barren stalemate at newly promoted Cardiff. Everton enjoyed two-thirds of the possession but to no avail. There seems to be no Plan B for Martinez after their pass, pass game doesn’t yield goals. They have lost star midfielder Marouane Fellaini to Manchester United but did manage some good deadline day signings in Romelu Lukaku from Chelsea, Gareth Barry from Manchester City and James McCarthy from Wigan.
Fans will be hoping that the loan signing of Lukaku will result in more potency upfront, as last season no Everton striker managed to reach double figures. However, the Belgian will be not be able to play in this weekend’s match against his parent club. Everton’s best business however was keeping star defender Leighton Baines, who was also desperately pursued by David Moyes. The 28-year-old was there for every minute of every game last term and created more chances than any other fullback in Europe’s top five leagues – a third of Everton’s for the season. He also tipped in seven goals of his own and together with Steven Pienaar, tore it up on the left side. The Toffees, who finished sixth last season, were strong at home winning 12 of their 19 matches and losing just one.
Since Jose Mourinho’s return for a second stint in charge at Chelsea, the Portuguese is yet to lose a league game. They sit second on the log with two home wins against Aston Villa and Hull and a draw at Old Trafford against Manchester United. They also drew 2-2 with Bayern Munich after extra-time in their most recent match in the UEFA Super Cup, eventually losing out on silverware in penalty-shootouts. Manchester United rejected two bids from Chelsea for Rooney in the summer transfer window, but the Stamford Bridge club were able to bring in Samuel Eto’o from Anzhi Makhachkala on a one-year deal. Although the Blues are unbeaten in the Premier League, they have relied on goals from defence and midfield so far to push them to their two wins. Eto’o’s experience will be vital upfront.
VERDICT: Everton 23/10
Chelsea’s two wins over Villa and Hull were far from convincing and their draw against United was very dull. They have defended well, as Mourinho’s sides tend to do but Everton have also been solid and are tipped to be buzzing at home to get their first win after three draws.