Chelsea return to Premier League action on Saturday, as they kick off the day’s matches. With a busy schedule coming up over the next couple of weeks, the Blues are in the middle of the festive fixture frenzy. This could be a defining stage of the season for Antonio Conte and his men, who are looking to get themselves back into the title race, while ensuring they have a place in the Champions League next season. While Man City are already too far ahead to catch this season, the Blues need to make more of an effort to close the gap in the back half of the campaign.
At one point, December looked like it could be a great month for the Blues. Things haven’t quite gone their way, starting with a 1-0 loss to West Ham at the Olympic Stadium. That’s set up another tough trip this week, with Everton suddenly improving at home under Sam Allardyce. The Toffees will be hoping to pick up another three points this weekend, although the recent record between these two sides does slightly count against them. Can Allardyce have a better record against Conte than Ronald Koeman mustered?
Team News: Will Conte Make Changes to Counter Toffees?
Chelsea have almost a full strength squad to pick from ahead of this clash, but we can’t see Conte making too many changes from the usual. The Blues boss has been switching between last season’s 3-4-3 and a 3-5-2 set-up this season, and we expect him to go for the latter with Everton looking impressive. The Italian does look to flood the midfield when facing top sides, and the form of Allardyce’s side is likely to factor in to his choice here. On top of that, we can’t forget that the new Everton boss was one of the few to beat Conte last term, as he led Palace to victory at Stamford Bridge. As a result, expect Conte to settle for a three-man central midfield.
Everton remain without Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman at full-back, while one time Chelsea target Ross Barkley is also injured. The Toffees have gone with a 4-2-3-1 system of late, with Wayne Rooney being deployed behind the main striker. He’s impressed with a few goals from that position, and he’ll be even more useful there this week as he can drop into the centre of midfield if the two behind him get overwhelmed. Allardyce isn’t likely to change much from the side which keeps winning, while they’re short of full-back replacements. That means Cuco Martina and Jonjoe Kenny are potential weak links for the Chelsea wing-backs to exploit.
Everton have a disastrous start to the season, but they were able to bounce back from that when Sam Allardyce took charge. Having found themselves in the drop zone after the efforts of Koeman and caretaker manager David Unsworth, the turnaround since Allardyce arrived has been clear, and he’ll be aiming to continue that progress over Christmas.
With five wins and a draw from their last six matches, it’s hard to argue with the hosts’ momentum heading into this clash. However, they may have some concerns over their record against the Blues, which is an area that certainly needs work. That’s not a one off, with the Toffees being winless against any of the eight sides above them – a run which has seen three home defeats.
Everton v Chelsea Head to Head
Chelsea have established some dominance over Everton of late, after struggling against them during the doomed 2015/16 campaign. Since Conte took charge, the Blues have managed four wins against the Toffees – two of which have already come this season. A League Cup win in October followed an early season league win, can Chelsea record a third victory over Everton within four months this season?
- Chelsea 2-1 Everton, Oct 2017
- Chelsea 2-0 Everton, Aug 2017
- Everton 0-3 Chelsea, Apr 2017
- Chelsea 5-0 Everton, Nov 2016
- Everton 2-0 Chelsea, Mar 2016
- Both teams to score – evens with Betfred
- Rooney to score any time – 13/5 with BetVictor
Chelsea may be facing an in-form Everton side, but it’s hard to tell that from the pre-match betting. The Blues are priced up at 8/13 with Coral to take the points, while the hosts are 9/2 with Betfair for another victory under Big Sam. Meanwhile, you can get 11/4 with Ladbrokes on the draw, so the bookies are leaving us in little doubt over who they are backing. While we fancy an away win, we aren’t exactly rushing out to back it at that price. Instead, we have a couple of other bets lined up for this clash as Conte’s men look for another victory on their travels.
Everton have improved going forwards under Sam Allardyce, and they’re managing to convert chances, unlike under Koeman. While they’re getting fewer touches in the box, Everton are doing well in attack, which makes us think that they’ll score here. After all, they have Wayne Rooney up front who can’t seem to stop scoring under Allardyce, and he’s got to be one to keep an eye on. Having struck nine career goals against Chelsea ahead of this clash, we’re backing him to score against the Blues on Saturday, adding to the six goals he’s scored in just five matches since Allardyce arrived on Merseyside.
Everton should be carrying enough threat up front to get a goal, and we can’t see the Blues heading back without finding the net. They’ve averaged two goals per away game this season, while Everton have conceded 1.67 goals per match in the Premier League. Not only have they scored 12 times against Everton under Conte, but they’ve found the net in 89% of their away games so far. That has us backing both teams to score in this clash at evens with Betfred.