Chelsea return from the international break this weekend, and as fate would have it, they face Everton. The champions clashed with the Toffees numerous times over the summer during their chase for John Stones, and that’s just added tension to this game. Jose Mourinho knows he needs three points, but have his side got up to speed in the last three weeks?
After just one win from their opening four games, the Blues are far from their best this term. They’ve fallen way off the early pace set by Manchester City, and a disappointing deadline day did little to lift the mood around the club. With no big name arrivals, it looks like Mourinho is going to have to iron out all the problems with his squad himself.
That is what he gets paid to do, of course, and he has a group of players good enough to succeed. The trick is getting them back to the level of last season. Fitness is a worry, after their late pre-season, and having his stars travelling the world over the international break really isn’t going to help them. While the likes of John Terry should be well rested, many of the others will likely be a little jaded.
That’s not the ideal preparation for stepping into Goodison Park, especially to face a club who you’ve spent the summer angering. Instead of lining up for Chelsea, he’ll be siding with the hosts, after playing for England during the break. He’s taken the whole transfer saga in his stride, so what are the odds on him scoring here? (Around 16/1 to score anytime if you’re interested.)
Unless players have picked up knocks during the break, it looks like Oscar is the only doubt for this game. The Brazilian has missed the last three games, but could be in contention to return. Terry is back from suspension, and he’ll replace either Kurt Zouma or Gary Cahill.
Last season Diego Costa hit a hat-trick on this ground in a very entertaining 6-3 win. The way Chelsea have been playing we could see another high scoring affair here. Until the Terry sending off in their last away game, they were going forward with a swagger, and being caught out at the back.
Manchester City came here to Goodison a few weeks ago, and they played well in a 2-0 win. The Toffees put them under pressure, but the leaders outclassed the hosts and took the points. The question is, could Chelsea produce that level of performance to grind out a win if needed? There’s little evidence to back that possibility this season.
In the end, the international break may just cost the Blues, sapping their already off-pace squad. This is going to be a massive test for their side this season, and we can’t see them passing it. While a draw wouldn’t be great, many teams will leave here with less.
LCN Verdict: 1-1 draw