Ronald Koeman will be hoping that Idrissa Gueye is passed fit given Morgan Schneiderlin's suspension
Everton are in the Capital for a third successive away game, taking their five-match unbeaten run to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea in a Sunday lunchtime kickoff.
For Ronald Koeman, it's a return to the scene of his worst result as Everton manager so far, a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of a team that opened the floodgates once it had capitalised on the Dutchman's unfamiliar five-man defence.
That same formation formed the bedrock of last Monday's strong defensive performance at Manchester City, one that almost held Pep Guardiola's much-vaunted attack at bay, and it could be employed again at Stamford Bridge this weekend now that it's a more tried and trusted system.
Indeed, it would be no surprise to see Koeman try to counter Antonio Conte's three-man central defence in this way with the same back five that started at the Etihad Stadium. That could mean a return to the starting XI for Mason Holgate — that would be harsh on Cuco Martina who had a good game in Europe on Thursday — and Phil Jagielka, both of whom sat out the Europa League qualifier in Split.
It's a defensively-minded setup that, if used, will potentially offer protection in the absences of the injured Davy Klaassen and Morgan Schneiderlin who serves a one-game suspension and the latter especially will be a big miss in front of the defence.
Even bigger still given his industry and tenacity would be Idrissa Gueye who didn't travel to Croatia as a precaution over a minor hamstring complaint after the draw at City. With scans on the muscle revealing no damage, there's a good chance the Senegalese will play; if not, it leaves the manager with just Tom Davies and Muhamed Besic as fit options in the middle of the park as James McCarthy and Ross Barkley remain absentees through injuries of their own and Gareth Barry has departed for West Brom.
There is scope, of course to play Wayne Rooney or Gylfi Sigurdsson in more withdrawn roles to cover but it would deprive Koeman of the counter-attacking options he will no doubt be relying on as he plots Chelsea's downfall.
“It's tough playing Monday, Thursday, Sunday and we had to travel,” Koeman said in his pre-match press conference yesterday. “We've been a little bit unlucky with some injuries and that makes it even more difficult but we'll do a session tomorrow to see which players are the most fresh to start.
“I don't like to make changes but maybe it's about freshness for Sunday.
Regardless of freshness concerns, the likes of Rooney, Leighton Baines and Dominic Calvert-Lewin will be asked to play a third game in the space of six days. The international break will afford two of the three a two-week break but Calvert-Lewin will have to draw on youth to power him through these early weeks of the campaign given that he has been called up by England U21s.
The 20-year-old was a revelation against City and Koeman will send him out at Stamford Bridge to unsettle a Chelsea defence that will be missing Gary Cahill and is still bedding in new signing Antonio Rüdiger. And as Burnley showed on the opening day, the Londoners' defence is one that can be ruffled by energy and power in the front line.
The other weapon that Everton will be hoping can make the difference is Sigurdsson who announced himself as a Blues player in the best way possible against Hajduk Split on Thursday and whose set-piece deliveries and crosses could provide the key to the visitors' chances.
Although they will be missing Eden Hazard and top goal poacher Diego Costa is on his way out, the reigning Champions have plenty of threats all over the pitch. And while it's too early to draw conclusions, unlike the implosion in Jose Mourinho's last season at their helm, last weekend's win over Tottenham at Wembley appeared to have nipped any collapse in the bud after that shock at Burnley's hands.
As such, the obstacles in Everton's way as they bid to win on this ground for the first time since 1994 are as significant as ever but with some help on the injury front, some run of the green and a successfully implemented game plan they also stand as good a chance as they have for most of those 23 years.
Kick-off: 1.30pm, Sunday 27 August, 2017
Referee: Jonathan Moss
Last Time: Chelsea 5-0 Everton
Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Holgate, Keane, A. Williams, Jagielka, Baines, Gueye, Davies, Sigurdsson, Rooney, Calvert-Lewin
Reader Comments (60)
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1 Posted 26/08/2017 at 17:52:17
2 Posted 26/08/2017 at 18:23:22
3 Posted 26/08/2017 at 18:32:30
Keane Williams Jags
Holgate Idrissa Davies Baines
Stek, Cuco, Kenny, Besic, Lennon, Mirallas, Lookman
I'd Idrissa isn't up for a full game - then I think Besic will have to start & Idrissa can come the bench.
I wouldn't mind seeing Niasse on the bench... although, I doubt that will ever happen.
4 Posted 26/08/2017 at 18:42:39
5 Posted 26/08/2017 at 18:45:13
The idea of Besic on the pitch with Chelsea's midfield gives me chills, and not in a good way.
Off-topic, hope everybody enjoyed watching Rom miss a pen just now!
6 Posted 26/08/2017 at 18:45:38
7 Posted 26/08/2017 at 19:00:02
8 Posted 26/08/2017 at 19:06:39
9 Posted 26/08/2017 at 19:07:34
10 Posted 26/08/2017 at 19:13:43
11 Posted 26/08/2017 at 19:17:42
But alongside Keane?
12 Posted 26/08/2017 at 19:18:01
One game at a time, build up a head of steam.
13 Posted 26/08/2017 at 19:20:36
I repeat, he's pretty good... but we got a much superior player in Keane.
14 Posted 26/08/2017 at 19:22:39
15 Posted 26/08/2017 at 19:27:07
I like him to do what he's very good at Mike. Pure defending.
Problems start when he does the step overs and dummies. My type of player though.
16 Posted 26/08/2017 at 19:27:08
17 Posted 26/08/2017 at 19:29:00
18 Posted 26/08/2017 at 19:31:08
19 Posted 26/08/2017 at 19:55:12
20 Posted 26/08/2017 at 20:03:43
Also off topic - just watching the Women's Rugby WCF...Jeez those girls make most prem footballers look like a bunch of Nancys. Hard as fkn nails.
I've predicted a goalfest (by our standards) tomorrow. Another point in the bag at 2-2.
And Besic will be ok against these. Won't be phas
22 Posted 26/08/2017 at 20:19:31
I remember the game when he did a man-marking job on Messi in the World Cup and he stood out. This will be the Mo Besic we will see if he stays injury-free imo.
23 Posted 26/08/2017 at 20:27:57
24 Posted 26/08/2017 at 20:43:45
25 Posted 26/08/2017 at 21:00:03
If Schneiderlin was playing alongside Gueye, I'd be quietly confident going into this one but, as soon as he is not in the middle pulling the strings and protecting the defence, we look average at best. I'm fearful for tomorrow they have the speed and the power to hurt us all over the pitch. I'd take a draw right now!
28 Posted 26/08/2017 at 21:00:51
Everton do need to show quality tomorrow even if they do eventually get beat. This is a good time to play young Walsh from the Under-23s. He did get the better of Hazard who played for Chelsea Under-23s, as Everton won 3-0.
29 Posted 26/08/2017 at 21:16:16
30 Posted 26/08/2017 at 21:20:44
31 Posted 26/08/2017 at 21:23:16
32 Posted 26/08/2017 at 22:03:12
33 Posted 26/08/2017 at 22:08:34
Rooney in midfield tomorrow if Gana not fit?
34 Posted 26/08/2017 at 22:17:05
36 Posted 26/08/2017 at 23:27:14
Only one thing to do go for all out attack with Mirallas and Lennon on the wings, DCL in the middle and Rooney just behind..
I hope we don't go for another deep defensive occasion and we really take it to Chelsea who are without a number of their first choice players themselves.
38 Posted 26/08/2017 at 23:38:54
40 Posted 26/08/2017 at 23:47:29
Perhaps more importantly - will Jordan keep em out?
43 Posted 27/08/2017 at 08:44:18
44 Posted 27/08/2017 at 08:52:10
Apparently, the deal will be sorted today and Costa might be coming the other way on loan until January although there are rumours about a £30m plus permanent deal.
I, tbh, would prefer Batsuyahi (on a permanent deal) for Ross. I know we are being linked with a massive bid for Vardy but I think, long term, Batsuyahi makes more sense as he's going to be the next Lukaku..
C'mon editors, we're in the last few days of the window and it's going to get mental and we need to be informed. Get a transfer rumour thread going like in the olden days,
45 Posted 27/08/2017 at 08:58:23
The other one is Deeney!
Costa on loan and either Batsuyahi or Vardy would do me nicely thank you very much.
46 Posted 27/08/2017 at 09:05:05
47 Posted 27/08/2017 at 09:09:18
Not with you on Deeney and the baggage?
48 Posted 27/08/2017 at 09:38:17
At this rate Niasse will be on the bench
49 Posted 27/08/2017 at 09:42:19
We used to point to Hibbert v Ronaldo, but at least in that game, Ronaldo never got past Hibbo once and changed wings to have a go down our left instead.
As for today. It's the team that has to be picked. I think it'll be a 343, 523 or 541 depending on how you read it:
Keane Williams jagielka
Holgate Gueye Davies Baines
Sigurdsson Rooney Calvert-Lewin
50 Posted 27/08/2017 at 09:44:35
Whether Leicester would do business is another thing altogether as it looks like Chelsea will sign vardy.
I like Deeney , but he hasn't go the quality. Origi not good enough for Liverpool.Raul Jimenez is an expensive risk.
Of all,the names bandied about Batsuyahi is one that may develop into a top player. Costa on loan would be good fun! , and may set us up for the run in.
Wilfred Bony doesn't get a mention , but fit and fired up could come good. Swansea want him so we need to move fast if we're interested. Llorente is 32 but top class , may get a season out of him , but seems a hit injury prone , not a good thing at his age.
Oh dear , I'm rambling on...but so is this striker saga
51 Posted 27/08/2017 at 09:53:45
52 Posted 27/08/2017 at 09:56:28
Half decent strikers who might be available and willing to be let go by their present clubs (on sale or loan):
Otherwise, Koeman has to swallow his pride and give some decent playing time to Niasse.
53 Posted 27/08/2017 at 10:01:40
Costa, is a beast, and would be ideal for us, can't see them going for Vardy as well, don't think Troy Deeney is good enough for us, but he certainly scores goals.
54 Posted 27/08/2017 at 10:05:49
55 Posted 27/08/2017 at 10:08:38
56 Posted 27/08/2017 at 10:20:18
Deeney doesn't set my old heart racing sadly. Didn't he have a bit of a chequered record with misdemeanours as a young man, a bit like Vardy I guess? Nothing detrimental about him reported in recent times that I've seen, the opposite if anything .
57 Posted 27/08/2017 at 10:27:32
As ever, the problem being his sheer inconsistency, which has dogged almost the whole of his Everton career. Probably a parting of the ways is inevitable.
Rumours in the press of a loan deal with Olympiakos.
58 Posted 27/08/2017 at 10:31:30
59 Posted 27/08/2017 at 10:38:03
I understand what you mean though, a class player, and brilliant reader of the game, RK couldn't have predicted so many players out of frame so early.
60 Posted 27/08/2017 at 10:45:08
61 Posted 27/08/2017 at 11:29:15
Someone wrote on here that Besic played well on Thursday and his long range passing was good.
Besic was constantly out of position, ran around like a headless chicken, went clean through and when all he needed to do was run forward he attempted a back heel and actually managed to trip himself up without touching the ball, his decision making is woeful and he has no discipline both in tackling and positional sense.
People talk about three things when it comes to Besic, one game in a World Cup three years ago, a game against city 2 years ago and how passionate he is. So two good games in three years and people mistaking him being an imbecile for passion, do me a favour! Sorry but Besic simply isn't good enough for us, he even moved up a place when Barry left because I guarantee if Barry was still at the club on Thursday Besic would not have started.
62 Posted 27/08/2017 at 11:39:56
Personally out of the two Slimani would be the forward I would go after anyway. He's younger than Vardy and would be cheaper. If I remember rightly before he moved to the foxes a lot of people on this forum were keen for Everton to sign him.
63 Posted 27/08/2017 at 11:40:41
64 Posted 27/08/2017 at 11:47:47
At the beginning of the season, I was beginning to wonder whether we had too many midfielders to fit into the team. Going into only our 3rd Premier League game, and with so many of our midfielders missing, really goes to show the importance of having not only quality players but also the depth.
65 Posted 27/08/2017 at 12:02:18
66 Posted 27/08/2017 at 12:10:45
67 Posted 27/08/2017 at 12:17:47
68 Posted 27/08/2017 at 13:59:09
The most negative manager in the league, even more so than Pulis!
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