Everton v Chelsea, Premier League

Eden Hazard remains a key player for Chelsea

Will Reilly previews Sunday’s Premier League clash between Everton and Chelsea, 4:30pm, live on Sky Sports

Form:

With five wins and two draws in their last seven matches, on the face of things Chelsea seem to have hit a period of stability. Five clean sheets in those seven matches and 13 goals scored only adds to that view.

This, though, only tells part of the story. A nervy win over Fulham in what should have been a comfortable match and a last-gasp equaliser at home to Wolves when they looked woefully short on imagination helps to keep feet on the ground.

Winning breeds confidence, of course, but, when all is said and done, which Chelsea will turn up on Sunday?

Everton fans are enduring a tough time. Just one win in their last six matches and eleven defeats in their last 19, a worrying picture is emerging for the blue side of Merseyside.

Also, at home in the league, they have won just one of their last eight matches and have failed to score in three of their last seven, although two of those were against Liverpool and Man City.

Everton have scored more than two goals in a game on four occasions and zero or one goals in 18 of their 34 matches played. It all seems a far cry from their good start to the campaign, when they went unbeaten in their first five matches and lost just four of their first 15 matches, and one of those was a League Cup penalty shootout.

It has all gone badly wrong since the start of December, with just five wins in 19 games.

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The Match:

Like them or like them not, Sarri-ball tactics are by now well-established – possession possession, possession, movement, movement, movement. Are Chelsea’s players beginning to understand what the movement bit means? The jury is still out.

Everton’s staff and players understood it well enough to fully stifle it at Stamford Bridge earlier in the season to record a 0-0 draw. Can they suss things out again? Sunday will tell us more.

In fact, a probably windy and boisterous Goodison Park, where it can feel like the crowd are on top of you, will provide a good arena in which to assess just where Chelsea are at in terms of their progress under Maurizio Sarri.

A win would take Chelsea to within one point of Spurs, who are third in the Premier League table. Everton have lost four of the last six home games they have played against Chelsea.

Here’s an interesting fact: the last two league meetings between these sides have ended 0-0. Only four games in Premier League history have finished goalless in three-consecutive fixtures. Chelsea have lost three of their last four away games in the league and have kept just one clean sheet in their last nine away fixtures in the league.

Is Maurizio Sarri’s style of play finally taking shape at Chelsea?

Team News:

Everton – Seamus Coleman is set to return following illness. Phil Jagielka is still unavailable and Kurt Zouma is unable to play against his parent club.

Chelsea – Gonzalo Higuain wasn’t available for Chelsea’s midweek Europa League match owing to illness. Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz and Eden Hazard were all rested for that game but will be okay for Sunday.

Verdict:

Overall, I find this a hard one to call. Have Chelsea turned a corner? We shall see.

Eden Hazard has been involved in 24 of Chelsea’s 50 Premier League goals this season (13 goals scored, 11 assists) and may be keen to impress on what looks like an extended swansong ahead of his likely move to Real Madrid. Chelsea are going to miss him; he’s a sublime talent.

Eden Hazard to score first is 4/1, to score at anytime is 7/5. It is a Double The Odds On First Goalscorer Bets match with us

Both sides, in my view, are unlikely to keep a clean sheet. Both teams to score is 15/20 with us

A suggested score is 2-1 to Chelsea at 15/2

Chelsea have yet to receive a red card this season. If you think that will change on Sunday, we’re offering a red card at 9/2

Something like 3-2 to Everton at 45/1 wouldn’t really surprise me, but I realise that that may look a little fanciful to many



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*Odds were correct at time of publishing the article