Chelsea face the second of two decisive fixtures in four days when they head to Goodison Park on Saturday. This FA Cup quarter final is a massive test for Guus Hiddink, a man who has made no secret of his desire to win the FA Cup again. Roberto Martinez also has history in this competition, and his Everton side need a win here just as badly as the Blues.
Of all the possible draws, this is one of the toughest on paper. Goodison Park is a difficult place to go, and it’s a ground that the Blues lost 3-1 at earlier this season. But, that win is one of just four that Everton have recorded at home in the league, so maybe this fixture isn’t the worst draw that the champions could have been handed.
Chelsea expect Diego Costa to be fit again for this tie, while John Terry is a doubt. He’s confirmed to miss the match with PSG and it remains to be seen if he can recover in time here.
Hiddink’s men will certainly need to be at their best, as this Everton side contains plenty of quality players. Romelu Lukaku and John Stones are known well by most at the club, one a former Chelsea target, the other a former Blues prospect. Both are looking like top players, although they’ve drifted in and out of form in Everton’s patchy season.
To be honest, with Everton sitting 11th in the table, Martinez should be thankful of the disaster that Chelsea have had this term. If they were in the title fight or even close to the top four from the start, then there would have been a lot more focus on the Toffees’ troubles. They have a squad packed with players who are worth £30million plus, but they still can’t contend with the likes of Leicester and Southampton at the top.
A lot of that would be forgotten with a cup victory, which makes this tie huge for Martinez. Having seen his side crash out of the League Cup, they’ll need to do better here, as they look to book a trip to Wembley for the semi finals.
Chelsea aren’t in a completely different boat, they too need success to keep their top players, and to attract new ones. This squad needs improving before next term, but why would a top player come to a side mid-table, out of the Champions League and trophyless? A cup win would show that this season was just a blip, and that they’re still contenders for silverware, even at their weakest point.
It would also give the top stars a reason to stay, with Eden Hazard among those who have been linked with a move away. Willian could be as well, and you couldn’t blame him if his head was turned, given how much he’s contributed compared to his teammates. After the season he has had, the Brazilian deserves to be playing at the highest level.
Of course, when it’s make or break for both sides, someone is going home disappointed. Hopefully the experience in the Blues side will give them the edge in this one and given Everton’s defensive problems we fancy Chelsea to get the job done.
LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-1