With Seamus Coleman still out, John Stones could be asked to fill in at right back again
Not for the first time in his two-and-a-half-year tenure at Goodison Park, Roberto Martinez recently spoke of how he and his side were primed and looking forward to a "really strong second half of the season." By the halfway stage of 2013-14, his Everton team were in the middle of an excellent run and riding in the top four but last season, the Blues' dire straits and equally dire form made a good showing in the latter half of the campaign imperative.
Now, with just six wins from 21 games in the Premier League so far, Everton's need to finally get going in 2015-16 has become acute and there would no better time – and no better demonstration to support the manager's claim that this team is top-four quality – than to finally win a game at Stamford Bridge after 22 years of trying.
The conditions appear to be favourable in that regard. Guus Hiddink has shown signs of quickly getting Chelsea's pitching ship back on an even keel following Jose Mourinho's departure under a cloud of chaos and player disharmony with wins over Sunderland and Crystal Palace but the Londoners' home draws against Watford and West Brom – both 2-2 – show that they remain vulnerable and can be "got at". And, as Hiddink admits, despite their galaxy of stars, Chelsea are not out of the relegation woods on current form.
The Toffees, meanwhile, arrive in West London with one of the best away records in the top flight and a goals-against tally that is in stark contrast to their home record where they've shipped twice as many. It speaks to how the attacking abandon that has been a feature of Everton's play, particularly at Goodison against supposedly lesser teams, has been their undoing at times and how a more defensive-minded approach on the road has stood them in good stead.
That was abundantly apparent at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday evening where a magnificent defensive performance helped shut out the division's most prolific attack and scored a morale-boosting goalless draw with Manchester City. It came at the expense of any consistent goal threat in the second half, however, and, as Leon Osman acknowledged after that game, it's up to Everton to find the balance between defensive solidity and attacking potency moving forward. The point gleaned there was, like the 10 other draws so far, annoyingly inconsequential in the context of that push for Champions League qualification and it increases the urgency for some big performances against some big teams in the weeks to come.
As he told the media in his pre-match press conference, Martinez will have the same players available for this one as he did in midweek, with James McCarthy and Seamus Coleman definitely ruled out and Tom Cleverley again rated as 50-50 to be fit. Cleverley suffered a flare-up of a calf problem against City in the League Cup semi-final first leg 10 days ago that he picked up at the tail end of last month, handing the manager something of a selection problem in that undefined left midfield slot.
Osman deputised there on Wednesday evening competently enough but it was his first start of the season and it's unclear whether he would have the stamina for a second in the space of four days. Arouna Kone has filled the role at times this term with middling results while Kevin Mirallas, still favoured on the left by Evertonians frustrated at his contining exile from the starting XI, offers a more potent option if Cleverley can't make it.
On the other flank, with Gerard Deulofeu struggling visibly in recent games to make an impact, Martinez may elect to change things again and recall Aaron Lennon and deploy the Spaniard, who looked leggy in the second half at City before he was substituted, off the bench.
At the back, meanwhile, Coleman's injury means the right-back slot remains a problem area. The bid for Leeds United's Sam Byram is a tacit acknowledgement of the lack of cover Martinez has had in that area given Tony Hibbert's ongoing fitness issues but with that deal unlikely to be completed until next week, the manager is going to have to make do again this weekend. That means playing one of John Stones or Bryan Oviedo out of position, although the former's injury scare at the Etihad might give Martinez pause before using all three of his experienced centre-halves in the same game.
With Eden Hazard missing through injury, Pedro in poor form and his potential replacement Kenedy lacking Premier League experience, Chelsea's chief threat from wide areas is likely to be Willian on the other flank and that might tip things in Oviedo's favour. It will also sharpen the focus on containing the Brazilian – it was his crushing winner in the 89th minute that broke Everton's resistance in this fixture last February – and the likes of Diego Costa and Oscar.
Having narrowly lost at Stamford Bridge by late goals in each of the last two visits and failed to win on this ground since 1994, it's high time that Everton plucked up some adventure and ambition in this fixture to finally make a statement of intent towards bridging what remains a bridgeable gap to the top four places.
Agaim, Martinez speaks of his plans coalescing in the second half of campaigns and with the better defensive organisation offering hope of more balance in the Blues' approach, the hope is that we can finally kick on and put a run of wins together. As West Ham and Crystal Palace before them have shown this season, any team that can string a run of good results together can propel themselves right into the European picture. Lagging behind in 11th, Everton are running out of runway if they are to finally get what has, at times, been an oh-so-promising campaign off the ground.
Referee: Mike Jones
Predicted Line-up: Howard, Stones, Jagielka, Funes Mori, Baines, Besic, Barry, Cleverley, Lennon, Barkley, Lukaku
Reader Comments (68)
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1 Posted 15/01/2016 at 19:59:41
2 Posted 15/01/2016 at 20:00:32
3 Posted 15/01/2016 at 20:04:06
4 Posted 15/01/2016 at 20:05:37
5 Posted 15/01/2016 at 20:07:09
6 Posted 15/01/2016 at 20:07:52
7 Posted 15/01/2016 at 20:19:16
8 Posted 15/01/2016 at 20:27:21
9 Posted 15/01/2016 at 20:29:47
10 Posted 15/01/2016 at 20:43:57
11 Posted 15/01/2016 at 20:53:25
12 Posted 15/01/2016 at 20:57:19
The year of the World Cup in USA.
The year of the Great Escape "Oh Horne".
Unbelievably the year Joe Royle took charge of Everton and one of the first things he did was win at Stamford Bridge...
The very last time we won a match there!!!
Truly unbelievable really isn't it?
Limpar to Rideout and at a crumbling Stamford Bridge with not even a roof on the old Shed End.
Can't actually believe it's been so long!!
13 Posted 15/01/2016 at 21:11:21
14 Posted 15/01/2016 at 21:25:59
Oh where have we said that before, though.
I would rest Stones for this one. He wasn't the same player after that knock the other night so give Oviedo some pitch time.
Mirallas is a must on the left for me although as usual expect to see managers favourite out there.
I will be brave and say 0-2. We are due a few clean sheets now Tim is determined to stick two fingers up to the dissenters and Jags is back.
15 Posted 15/01/2016 at 21:37:20
16 Posted 15/01/2016 at 21:55:12
Funnily enough, my mate and I were only speaking earlier about how long it is since we won over THERE and I actually found myself going red on the phone. It's a total and utter embarrassment the way we've performed in these games and to think some of the so-called top 4 sides have had poor sides or been in poor form in them years and we've still failed to win. You can always rely on good old Everton to cure you of a poor run.
And while I truly believe Chelsea are distinctly average, watch them win at a canter tomorrow; we defended brilliantly at Man City on Wednesday. But did anyone think we would actually win? No, I thought not.
As Ernie said, if you were tipping any of our games now, you'd say a draw. Tomorrow... not for me; I think we'll lose. Please just for once prove this pessimist wrong.
17 Posted 15/01/2016 at 22:06:07
Barkley needs telling that he must start be bolder and more assertive if he's going to become the real deal, he's got to start doing it in these kind of matches.
I'd not start with Deulofeu tomorrow just to see him fade badly again in the second half, I'd get Lennon to put a shift in, as its highly unlikely Mirallas will be given the nod. Get Deulofeu on in the last half-hour to run at a tired team.
It was a great result at The Etihad but I just feel it's high time we started making our presence felt in matches of this ilk, and of course, it's just 6 wins all season and since the end of September we have only won 3 matches, putting that into context it's pretty grim reading.
18 Posted 15/01/2016 at 22:21:48
I don't see where we create chances otherwise, now that Coleman is unfit and our left-hand side remains something of a vacuum.
19 Posted 15/01/2016 at 22:50:35
Howard (I would prefer Robles but it wont happen)
To answer the probable questions: Why no Barkley? Personally I think he has been awful for a few weeks and needs a rain check; bring him back down to earth and get him set for the next few weeks. I think we could score a few if we play well on the counter-attack. Deulofeu in a free role would get the ball back to front a lot quicker than Ross in my opinion.
Score 3-1 Everton; Lukaku (2), Barry.
20 Posted 15/01/2016 at 23:02:25
I don't think Deulofeu likes playing in 'monsoon' conditions and have noticed his frustration when he can't control the ball properly in the wet and deliver his crosses accurately. I reckon Mirallas could roast Ivanovich if given a long overdue start tomorrow.
We can get a win if we put a 90-minute shift in.
21 Posted 15/01/2016 at 23:02:38
If we tighten it up, à la Man City, we can't create anything. So at best a draw again or a marginal one-goal loss: 1-0 or 2-1 against us.
22 Posted 15/01/2016 at 23:18:53
I don't know what the problem is with Deulofeu. Is he battling a cold or something? For a professional footballer, this late into the season, to be that tired after 70 minutes, just isn't right. Lennon is the right call.
I see we're about re-up the Oviedo's contract. This is good thing. I've always liked the way he plays. Back before the broken leg, I seem to remember him playing on the left wing at times. Why couldn't he play there again? It just might get Bainsey involved in the offensive side of things again.
23 Posted 15/01/2016 at 23:20:10
24 Posted 15/01/2016 at 23:59:25
26 Posted 16/01/2016 at 01:33:51
27 Posted 16/01/2016 at 02:23:38
The over reliance on Lukaku, who will be closely marked tomorrow, means we shall have few chances to complete the double but a point looks a likely return.
Strong individual performances from Barry and Besic have been a highlight of the recent Manc matches and the Jagielka - Funes Mori axis seems to have bolted the back door. So I'll be having some of that 5-1 methinks!
28 Posted 16/01/2016 at 02:32:38
Contain and gain confidence before introducing Deulofeu when we rip that poor back line apart. Tomorrow, we make a statement! We are the Blues.
29 Posted 16/01/2016 at 03:03:29
Maybe this is a chance for Naismith, the Chelsea killer, to put a final page in his resume for any potential suitors. Either him, or Besic, or Barry certainly will get stuck into Costa at some point and I will take any of those three to finish anything that gets started.
30 Posted 16/01/2016 at 05:00:33
Costa is not only a disgrace but is a coward. He's quite happy kicking, slapping, pulling and talking shit to opposition players but as soon as he's touched or not he's bitching to the ref, ably assisted by that shit Terry.
We might start with 11 on the pitch but unless the ref stays strong we won't finish with 11. Barry and Besic beware
31 Posted 16/01/2016 at 07:20:27
32 Posted 16/01/2016 at 08:36:52
Play like we did against City and we won't score a goal. Not much Lukaku can do with three men on his back. It will take a Martinez masterplan and I have no idea of what that might be, except Barkley will need to move the ball on quickly and get himself into the box. According to Hiddink, all 10 of his outfield players are doing the dirty work these days, which is about 3 more than us and the shambles we beat at Goodison is long gone. Not a clue how it will go but hoping for the best.
33 Posted 16/01/2016 at 09:13:28
In the Man City cup tie all 3 played, but Kev came on for Delboy. Let's see all three playing together with Rom. Please Bobby....
34 Posted 16/01/2016 at 09:47:20
I do not understand why Lennon hasn't been used more, he puts a full game in and is not without skill to go with his endeavour; he can make and score a goal as well.
36 Posted 16/01/2016 at 09:50:15
With Lennon on the right and Oviedo on the left. Barkley would be the man to make way, and Del would also be on the bench, with Mirallas to cause problems in the second half. If Stones is fit, I would continue with him in the right back slot.
We have to watch Willian but Chelsea are vulnerable. Cahill turns like the QEII and if Terry plays, we have to expose his lack of pace.
Keep it tight, and with 30 mins to go, put on Del and Kevin and tear them apart.
Everton to win by two.
37 Posted 16/01/2016 at 10:01:02
If he hasn't played since the last time we faced Chelsea he certainly won't be playing today.
38 Posted 16/01/2016 at 10:07:06
39 Posted 16/01/2016 at 10:18:05
40 Posted 16/01/2016 at 10:21:14
There have been a few calling for Stones in midfield - perhaps this is the game to give it a go.
I hope Cleverley is available because I think we need to go a genuine 4-4-2 to have any chance against Hiddink's Chelsea.
This would be my team.
Oviedo, Jagielka, Funes Mori, Baines
Cleverley, Stones, Barry, Besic
Now that I know what it means (thanks Phil Walling) I would go KITANO.
Still got the jitters I always feel like that when I think we have a chance. It's strange but I have been feeling like that quite often recently.
Up the Blues.
41 Posted 16/01/2016 at 10:44:00
42 Posted 16/01/2016 at 10:48:53
I live in SW London and it's amazing how many Chavs have appeared in Chelsea tops since Abramovic opened his wallet. I hope Garbutt helps gets Fulham back up as that's a proper club to go and visit!
43 Posted 16/01/2016 at 11:00:18
Naismith has scored at least 5 goals against them, and since we played Chelsea he has actually appeared in 5 league, and 2 cup games for us.
44 Posted 16/01/2016 at 11:02:35
45 Posted 16/01/2016 at 11:08:50
Ivanovic is a clumsy sod and will be knocking Pienaar over all day, chance for Baines to convert a few free kicks... penalty maybe. We've got every chance of winning this. They're there for the taking and with Hazard out they are not such a fearsome force.
46 Posted 16/01/2016 at 11:10:52
Howard (Nothing will change this)
Stones, Jagielka, Funes Mori, Baines
Deulofeu, Barkley, Mirallas
47 Posted 16/01/2016 at 11:27:05
Either Oviedo or Pienaar in his place.
Lennon and Mirallas should be utilized from the bench.
Kone should be left home.
48 Posted 16/01/2016 at 11:45:36
Can't say I'm too happy about Stones at RB and would prefer Oviedo despite he's on his wrong peg. I've put us down for a 2-0 win on my Super 6, so no chance of that scoreline then, but I'd take the spawniest, poxyist, dirty lucky scouse bastards type of win today-in fact any day.
By the way, gents, you do realise that Yarmolenko is an anagram of Riquelme.
49 Posted 16/01/2016 at 11:51:07
50 Posted 16/01/2016 at 11:52:46
I'd love him to score the winner!
51 Posted 16/01/2016 at 12:03:20
52 Posted 16/01/2016 at 12:20:27
Keep Naismith as I can see nobody of value at present who would do better.
We should be beating the likes of Chelsea. 1-3 to the Mighty Blues.
53 Posted 16/01/2016 at 12:21:10
54 Posted 16/01/2016 at 12:39:14
Kone nailed on, a Martinez fave... as is Howard.
55 Posted 16/01/2016 at 12:47:54
London pressmen insist Chelsea are in a false position but you can claim that about any team. Unless Everton' s season is to be written off as yet another one in transition, we must beat these faded champions today, come what may!
56 Posted 16/01/2016 at 12:50:09
Bright sunny day here, although it's pretty cold too. No idea what to expect so will plump for another draw 1-1.
57 Posted 16/01/2016 at 13:02:36
58 Posted 16/01/2016 at 13:08:28
I've said it before, Lukaku gets injured or starts losing form again, we are stuck with Kone and a couple of untried kids.
It's okay people talking about Embolo, why would he join Everton when he's going to have other suitors?
Austin was a real steal at that price but hey, we are stuck with Arouna "cold legs" Kone as back up!
59 Posted 16/01/2016 at 13:10:53
60 Posted 16/01/2016 at 13:14:54
61 Posted 16/01/2016 at 13:17:42
He gets you goals mate, what is not to be convinced by?
In this day and age, £4 million, he's 26, it's a true bargain. Martinez paid £6 million for a 30-year-old Arouna Kone.
63 Posted 16/01/2016 at 13:20:45
That's a steal in modern day football.
64 Posted 16/01/2016 at 13:40:31
65 Posted 16/01/2016 at 13:54:38
66 Posted 16/01/2016 at 13:56:39
68 Posted 16/01/2016 at 14:02:12
69 Posted 16/01/2016 at 14:06:54
If the 1st half Norwich and the 2nd half Citteh side show up we should do them. 2-0 for us.
71 Posted 16/01/2016 at 14:09:40
72 Posted 16/01/2016 at 14:38:33
If anyone has read my occasional pre-match comment, you can be sure Kone will score our late winner now.
73 Posted 16/01/2016 at 14:47:35
I'd have dropped Stones for this game and tell him he has stop his ridiculous going-to-ground lunging tackles in the box if he wants his place back.
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