Three weeks into the new Premier League campaign and Everton are still winless, having recorded three straight draws, and they have no choice but to try and end the poor run against one of the main candidates for the title. Chelsea are two points off the top of the standings and they will fancy their chances of winning at Goodison following a good performance in the UEFA Super Cup match against Bayern Munich.
Everton continue to prove why they are regarded as one of the best defensive sides in the Premiership, with the team keeping two clean sheets in first three matches of the season. This is mostly down to the fact that the back line hasn’t changed much over the last three years, while the quality of the players and goalkeeper Tim Howard never came into question. Problems are currently on the other side of the pitch as the likes of Jelavic, Kone, Mirallas, Naismith and Deulofeu have yet to get on the scoresheet and that is precisely why Roberto Martinez has signed Romelu Lukaku on loan from Chelsea. The towering striker is expected to make the Toffees much more ruthless up front, although he is obviously ineligible to face his parent club. This means that the hosts will have to produce another impressive performance at the back if they are to get something from this match, as they cannot be trusted to improve on their scoring record against arguably the best defence in the Premier League. After selling Marouane Fellaini to Manchester United, Everton have signed James McCarthy and Gareth Barry, and they seem to have done some great business on transfer deadline day.
Darron Gibson, Antolin Alcaraz and Romelu Lukaku are unavailable, but Gareth Barry and James McCarthy are likely to play a part.
Chelsea finally sign high-profile striker
As soon as it became clear that Jose Mourinho would be returning to Stamford Bridge, Chelsea begin to be regarded as one of the main candidates for the title. The Blues indeed looked pretty solid in the opening exchanges, recording victories over Hull City and Aston Villa, but the Manchester United clash showed just how much they were missing a proven goalscorer. With both Torres and Ba struggling for form, Mourinho fielded a side without a recognized striker, and his team were in turn completely outclassed by the Red Devils, with the back line working really hard to keep the second clean sheet of the season. However, despite missing out on Wayne Rooney, Chelsea managed to add two attacking reinforcements, signing Willian and Eto’o from Anzhi, and these late additions could prove to be key to a successful title bid. Even so, with the two players having just arrived at the club and taking part in just a couple of training sessions due to international break, they cannot really be expected to make an instant impact in the Everton clash.
Eden Hazard and Samuel Eto’o should play despite picking up injuries on international duty, meaning Jose Mourinho can pick from a fully fit squad.
Everton and Chelsea not only boast rock-solid defences, but they also seem to be largely struggling up front, which should guarantee us a low-scoring match at Goodison. Neither side will be prepared to throw caution down the wind and go all guns blazing, but they will rather adopt a cautious approach and wait for their chance.
Top pick: Half-time draw 2.20 (6/5) @ bet365
Alternative pick 1: Under 2.5 goals 1.83 (5/6) @ Betfair
Alternative pick 2: Both teams to score – No 2.10 (11/10) @ Paddy Power
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