PREMIER LEAGUE champions Chelsea began their title defence in stunningly poor fashion, losing 3-2 at home to Burnley in their opening fixture of the 2017/18 campaign.
However, they followed that up with an excellent 2-1 win away to Tottenham Hotspur.
Antonio Conte’s side dug deep, defended well and took their chances against last season’s runners-up to clinch a crucial three points at Wembley Stadium, giving them confidence ahead of another big league clash.
Everton established themselves as the Premier League’s best outside of the top six last term, but they want more than that this time around.
And, having reinvested the proceeds of Romelu Lukaku’s sale to Manchester United wisely, they look strong enough to compete with anyone in the division.
This was proven in their most recent outing, a trip to face Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, in which they took the lead and held on for a good point against their ambitious, big-spending opposition. That result came on the back of a 1-0 win over Stoke City to begin the season.
Chelsea and Everton meet at Stamford Bridge this Sunday, with kick-off at 1.30pm. Both sides are resurgent and will see the match as an opportunity to build on positive recent performances. Here, our friends at Football Whispers break down the match.
Sunday’s game will see two of the Premier League’s best ball-winning midfielders meet, as N’Golo Kante faces Idrissa Gueye. Both enjoyed stellar 2016/17 campaigns, and their meeting will be vital to the outcome of this weekend’s match.
The former is the engine upon which Chelsea’s play is built. First and foremost, he is an astoundingly energetic player. He runs, chases and harries relentlessly in search of possession. However, he is also an efficient passer and is capable of setting up quick counter-attacks.
Gueye is not dissimilar in style, with the majority of his best work coming in the defensive phase. Indeed, last season he completed more tackles per game (4.1) than any other Premier League player, with Kante coming in third on that list with an average of 3.7.
The duo are the star players in their respective teams’ midfields, which will arguably be the most important area of the pitch on Sunday afternoon. Whoever comes out on top in this individual battle will undoubtedly enhance their side’s chances of success on the day.
POTENTIAL MATCH WINNERS
Throughout the summer window, Chelsea have been persistently linked with a move for a left wing-back. Juventus’ Alex Sandro, Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Tottenham’s Danny Rose have all been mentioned as targets, but there doesn’t appear any real need to sign them.
Marcos Alonso has been superb in the position so far this term, building on a solid debut year in English football with a match-winning display away to Spurs. After opening the scoring at Wembley with a beautiful free kick, he hit the winner on the break to seal three crucial points.
The Spaniard has been joined at Chelsea by his compatriot and fellow former Real Madrid youth team graduate Alvaro Morata. The striker arrived to replace the wantaway Diego Costa up front and has shown plenty of good signs with intelligent runs and pace.
On his Premier League debut he scored one goal and set up another, while against Tottenham he defended well and nearly found the net with his only real chance. He and Alonso have both shown match-winning capability and will need to do so again this Sunday.
Everton’s best performer this season has, in the eyes of many, been Wayne Rooney who reached 200 Premier League goals. However, Dominic Calvert-Lewin has impressed with his direct running, ceaseless work ethic and aerial ability.
The versatile youngster has played up front and at wing-back so far, and his movement in the channels could cause problems for new Chelsea signing Antonio Rudiger. Meanwhile, Ronald Koeman will be hoping for a resolute display from centre-back Michael Keane to stifle the champions at the other end.
While Conte experimented successfully with a 3-5-2 system against Tottenham, he may go back to his tried and trusted 3-4-3 in a bid to break down more defensive opposition. Everton showed their fortitude against Manchester City, so introducing Pedro alongside Morata and Willian could be necessary.
The change in shape should also see David Luiz drop back into a more familiar central defensive role alongside Rudiger and Cesar Azpilicueta.
But the trio could have their hands full, especially if Koeman decides to grant Gylfi Sigurdsson his first start for the Toffees.
The Icelandic creator could be called upon to play in an advanced central role supporting Rooney and Calvert-Lewin. Meanwhile, Everton could pair Gueye with home-grown starlet Tom Davies in midfield.
Going into this Sunday’s match, Chelsea are the least disciplined side in the Premier League. In two matches they have picked up six yellow cards and two reds. They will need to curb their tempers against their visitors this weekend.
Only four teams in the league have attempted more long balls than Everton’s 74 per game. Those teams are Crystal Palace, Watford, Burnley and West Bromwich Albion. Koeman’s side will be hoping their directness and aerial strength will come to the fore against a new-look Blues back line.
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