Lucas Digne is fit but will have to dislodge Leighton Baines who has been impressive over the last two games
Everton are back in London to face down another away-day demon when they play Chelsea in a Sunday afternoon kick-off.
Of the unwanted barren stretches without a win on the grounds of the so-called “big six”, the Blues' record at Stamford Bridge stands as the longest at 26 years. It was 1994 when Paul Rideout struck the winner for Joe Royle's team and since then, the closest an Everton side has come to beating Chelsea on their own turf was under Roberto Martinez when a controversial stoppage-time equaliser ensured the game ended 3-3.
Carlo Ancelotti remarked before the recent visit to Arsenal's Emirates Stadium that his new club's poor sequence of results in fixtures like this was enough to make him cry. He wasn't able to secure a win in that match despite Dominic Calvert-Lewin handing him a first-minute lead but he will be hoping for better when he returns to the scene of his Premier League and FA Cup double in 2010.
The Italian says that he is excited to return to a place that gave him some “fantastic memories” but becoming the first Everton manager to taste victory in this fixture for over two and a half decades will be uppermost in his mind.
He will be without Seamus Coleman who suffered a soft-tissue injury in the first half of last weekend's controversial 1-1 draw with Manchester United but has Djibril Sidibé ready to step in as a ready-made replacement.
On the opposite side of defence, Lucas Digne is available again after missing the last two games with a minor injury but the Frenchman would do well to dislodge Leighton Baines who has been excellent as his deputy.
At centre-half, Ancelotti has another decision to make given how well Michael Keane performed alongside Mason Holgate against Man Utd but he could see fit to add Yerry Mina's height and threat from corners back into the team.
It also remains to be seen whether he persists with the three-man central midfield unit that he used last Sunday, where Tom Davies and Gylfi Sigurdsson at times looked an awkward fit. The boss as shown great faith in the latter and, with Bernard most often used at home, it could be that the Icelander continues in the starting XI.
For Chelsea, Jorginho is suspended and Frank Lampard, who will be reunited with his former manager, has Mateo Kovacic ruled out with an Achilles tendon injury, Willian also doubtful with a similar foot problem, as well as fitness concerns over Tammy Abraham, Andreas Christensen, N'Golo Kanté and Callum Hudson-Odoi.
Christian Pulisic and Ruben Loftus-Cheek could pass fitness tests but there is speculation that fullback Marcos Alonso could start in midfield, with former Blue Ross Barkley and youth sensation Billy Gilmour also in the mix for selection.
Given how well Chelsea performed at home against Spurs two weeks ago and then against a strong Liverpool line-up in the FA Cup, this looks likely to be the stern test for Everton that it usually is.
Those injuries that Lampard is having to contend with might play into Ancelotti's hands as he seeks to pick up points after taking just one from the last six in Everton's quest for European qualification.
Kick-off: 2pm, Sunday, 8 March, 2020
Referee: Kevin Friend
VAR: Martin Atkinson
Last Time: Chelsea 0-0 Everton
Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Sidibé, Mina, Holgate, Baines, Gomes, Delph, Sigurdsson, Walcott, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin
Reader Comments (77)
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1 Posted 07/03/2020 at 07:12:03
Looking forward to this one – sooner or later we are going to enjoy an away day both inside and outside the pub!
2 Posted 07/03/2020 at 08:42:01
3 Posted 07/03/2020 at 08:58:15
4 Posted 07/03/2020 at 09:06:02
5 Posted 07/03/2020 at 09:12:12
6 Posted 07/03/2020 at 09:14:43
I was there once when we won, first game of the 78-79 season. 1-0 if my memory is correct, Andy King. Spent most of the game repelling invaders of a Chelsea persuasion as they tried to pile in the open end. After the game, on the King's Road and then the tube station battle. Quite a day in London town that was.
Ancelotti's Blues to get something tomorrow. 1-1 or more preferably 2-1.
7 Posted 07/03/2020 at 09:19:33
Both teams are scoring and leaking goals, if I place a bet on the above it will be 0-0 so I'll keep my money in my pocket!
8 Posted 07/03/2020 at 09:23:20
Jeez, I wish I could have dreams like that. I have to put up with a recurring one involving Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Anniston, and neither of 'em play for us in it!
10 Posted 07/03/2020 at 09:27:09
I'd leave Holgate at centre back and pair him with, after another two seconds of thought, Mina to see if he can start getting his act together.
It won't happen but I'd play both Digne and Baines, with one of them going into midfield alongside Davies and Gomes, with Delph on the bench, ready to come on.
11 Posted 07/03/2020 at 09:37:45
Sidibe is simply a fish out of water at right-back. I would play Davies there but, if Digne is fit, I would switch Baines to the right.
12 Posted 07/03/2020 at 09:44:07
13 Posted 07/03/2020 at 10:02:52
With Sigurdsson forced into the team, it is a square peg into a round hole. As a result, I think Cheslea will get too much of the ball in midfield and it will be like the first half against Man Utd last week.
I can see Carlo out-thinking Lampard for this game and we will get the win.
Prediction: Chelsea 1 Everton 3
14 Posted 07/03/2020 at 10:10:52
Ancelotti and Lampard are the Blues Brothers who bonded at Chelsea over respect, trophies and a goodbye meal after the Italian was sacked... but now their friendship is an afterthought as they go head-to-head as managersl
15 Posted 07/03/2020 at 10:11:25
16 Posted 07/03/2020 at 10:12:11
So, 26 years eh, Lyndon? That's embarrassing. That said, with a fair wind and a bit of luck, they are beatable, but we need to show desire from the "off". I would like us to go 4-4-2 with Kean up front with Calvert-Lewin but I think Carlo might go with a 4-5-1 set-up to stifle midfield.
17 Posted 07/03/2020 at 10:13:39
In Carlo's early games, we played a strange hybrid of 3-5-2 and 4-4-2 depending on whether we were in possession or not. This would suit a right side of Holgate and Sidibé together.
18 Posted 07/03/2020 at 10:41:58
It highlights just how cute and astute a manager we have in Carlo Ancelotti. He looked at what was available to him, tweaked the formation which resulted in Lampard returning his best ever goal haul – 27, for a midfielder! – and a league and cup double.
Well worth a read.
19 Posted 07/03/2020 at 10:41:59
20 Posted 07/03/2020 at 11:06:26
My starting XI and subs bench:
Sidibé Keane Holgate Digne
Davies Delph Gomes Bernard
Subs: Virginia, Mina, Baines, Sigurdsson, Iwobi, Walcott, Kean.
21 Posted 07/03/2020 at 11:34:12
However, the mental side remains an issue, hopefully eradicated over the summer; I don't see us winning tomorrow.
22 Posted 07/03/2020 at 11:49:31
23 Posted 07/03/2020 at 12:07:18
Usually in these types of away matches, we beat ourselves by throwing stupid goals away. You can't expect to win big games doing that – no matter what personnel is on the turf.
And second of all, mentally, can our players get over a hurdle of not beating Chelsea away since what seems like ancient times ago when greyhounds used to run around the Stamford Bridge pitch and Dennis Wise scuttled around in a Chelsea shirt like a petulant schoolyard wind-up merchant???
The mental hurdle of winning one of these matches is now so huge, it would take a mile-long pole vault to jump over.
24 Posted 07/03/2020 at 12:07:26
25 Posted 07/03/2020 at 12:11:13
I'm not sure over the 90 mins last week that Davies did enough to cement his place, nor Sigurdsson, and clearly Bernard is not favoured away in big matches, so I reckon he'll only make 2 or 3 changes to last week's line-up. I suspect we'll see:
Sidibé, Keane, Holgate, Digne,
Walcott, Gomes, Delph, Iwobi,
Richarlison, Calvert- Lewin.
I can't see us not conceding again so I'll go for a 1-1 scoreline and, if luck is on our side, a sneaky 1-2 win.
26 Posted 07/03/2020 at 12:18:34
27 Posted 07/03/2020 at 12:23:50
Which means I should have a bet on Chelsea.
Which means we will win
28 Posted 07/03/2020 at 13:13:39
I hope Everton hasve secured Mason Holgate on an extended contract to continue playing him in his default position: centre-back.
Yes, he has had spells at both full-back positions, a single appearance away to Man Utd as a defensive midfielder under Big Dunc due to an injury crisis, and was placed there again away to Watford for the final 20 minutes in a tactical reshuffle forced on Carlo following Delph's sending-off.
I don't understand the calls to give him a starting berth in midfield. We have players who can do that job. Play Mason in his best position.
I think any selection including Bernard away is also likely to be wrong. On the Brazilian ESPN site, there was an article on the wee man in which Carlo was quoted with the following:
"I know my players very well, I know their qualities and also their defects. Perhaps because, at home, we are more able to control the ball, Bernard is really good with the ball and did his part very well against Crystal Palace when he scored the first goal.
"When we are not able to dominate the game, it is more difficult for him to prove his quality. When we have control, everything is easier for him. Maybe for that reason I play him at home, but not away.
"He doesn't have to convince me, I already know that he is a good player and important for us."
29 Posted 07/03/2020 at 13:21:44
30 Posted 07/03/2020 at 14:10:21
31 Posted 07/03/2020 at 14:16:09
Don't move Holgate.
Our deficiencies in midfield are obvious but don't move our best centre-half. All that does is weaken an already suspect part of our team even further.
Sorry for repeating what others have said but, similar to the Arsenal game a few weeks back, our biggest problem is ourselves.
We should be fresher than them tomorrow but I still don't think we'll win. Score draw for me, possibly 2-2 but I'd love to be wrong.
Onward Evertonians. Full support. 💙
32 Posted 07/03/2020 at 16:18:15
It's okay talking players up and saying "We are heading in the right direction" but it's another season of no real change so far, and I think what we as fans need, and what Ancelotti needs, is a really big result against one of the top sides.
We need to start putting some of the talk on the pitch and start producing better results. After the derby, we then face a long three week break off due to Norwich being in the FA Cup quarterfinals.
If we go into April rooted in the bottom 7, then it's not going to be very positive feeling.
33 Posted 07/03/2020 at 16:24:30
One day, we might once again be challenging at the top but we all knew before Christmas it probably wouldn't be this current season.
Life is short but it's even shorter if you dwell on what it should be, rather than what it is.
34 Posted 07/03/2020 at 16:36:12
I'm enjoying watching a similar matchup right now, Arteta vs. Moyes. These meetings of old friends are always interesting.
And a correct VAR decision probably decides the outcome. Who woulda thunk it.
35 Posted 07/03/2020 at 16:55:23
I think this season quickly needs to move from one where we are not in the running for Europe, but also completely safe. Then give game time to Gordon, Kean, more time to Iwobi, Bernard and mess about with different other midfield combinations.
All about getting a better feel for who and what for next season. But, if we beat Chelsea and Liverpool, then things might change!
36 Posted 07/03/2020 at 17:04:18
I really hope we don't lose Richarlison, either in the short term to the Olympics or the long term to a "bigger" club, and we pick up some reinforcements in midfield and defence.
I hope we win tomorrow, and we're more than capable of it based on recent displays, but I've seen enough now to get excited about next season – whatever happens during the remainder of this season.
37 Posted 07/03/2020 at 17:09:48
38 Posted 07/03/2020 at 17:13:18
We won't make top 7 and don't deserve it. 10 teams have lost fewer games than us, 8 teams have scored more, 11 teams have conceded fewer. We had a nice little boost under Dunc and Carlo has been steady but, over the course of the season, the team doesn't deserve Europe.
39 Posted 07/03/2020 at 17:14:53
I see plenty of chances, and we must stop Pedro and Ross from shooting and close the space in midfield.
For me, it's vital to win in order to have an outside chance of Europa League qualification. Considering the Arsenal and Man Utd games, both were decided on fine margins and United by rank poxy officials and VAR.
Tomorrow, Everton will get even. Chelsea, like ourselves, are predictable but now Everton have so much more about them under Carlo.
A win but I see us getting a few chances and converting so 1-3 to Everton and keep the hopes going for Liverpool next week.
40 Posted 07/03/2020 at 17:18:22
I hope I am wrong but, as soon as Europe is mentioned, this team just crumbles under the slightest pressure of expectation. I expect the same thing tomorrow – us losing many times to them in the past is no excuse. Stay tight and take your chances and bring home three points, please, Everton.
41 Posted 07/03/2020 at 17:34:50
It's in our hands tomorrow and it's in our minds.
42 Posted 07/03/2020 at 17:42:11
Surely we're due a win there. The last time was '95 with Rideout scoring. I'm also hoping Pickford redeems himself this week: no clean sheet for ages.
43 Posted 07/03/2020 at 17:46:24
44 Posted 07/03/2020 at 17:47:50
You look at teams that are limited in playing terms, like Burnley, they can regularly keep clean sheets and put all hands to the pump when they come under pressure.
Every team will come under some pressure during a match; it's how you deal with it, and Everton for far too long have been a real soft touch defensively. (I speak defensively but that's as a whole team when possession is relinquished.)
This will be a big task for Carlo Ancelotti over the coming months because you've almost got to go back to the Moyes era of Distin and Jagielka when this club had the art of defending.
45 Posted 07/03/2020 at 17:54:26
What I would like to ask is what has Leighton Baines done wrong in the two games he has played, to warrant Digne a sure starter at left-back?
Take away his penalty miss in the cup game and I would say, on the games this season, Baines has been the better left-back.
We know Digne on his day is quality... but, for me, I would certainly give Baines another run out; I think the guy has earned it.
46 Posted 07/03/2020 at 18:07:53
It really is pitiful that Sheffield United, who were a Championship team last season, have a well better defence – with the same players from the Championship.
47 Posted 07/03/2020 at 18:17:23
48 Posted 07/03/2020 at 18:32:11
49 Posted 07/03/2020 at 18:35:16
I was just talking about Ancelotti's comments about Europe. With the comment "we don't deserve it", if we finish in the top 7, then we deserve it. What we don't deserve is some of the referees' decisions and VAR that as lost us games and points.
The Premier League is so unpredictable that 3 wins may get you to 5th, or 3 losses may put you back into relegation. My opinion is we will finish 8th to 10th but I will be a lot happier if we finish 7th to 5th.
50 Posted 07/03/2020 at 18:51:06
Players like Schneiderlin, Sigurdsson, Walcott, Keane, Pickford, Coleman, Baines (although I've liked These full backs), Niasse, Bolasie and Sandro have never had what it takes to win big. That's most of our senior players.
The young guys have won at junior level, with Everton and some with England. However, I worry that the senior players' loser mentality will invade the youngsters' minds...
In my opinion, it's a problem starting with Moyes's plucky Blues, which was actively encouraged by the Bestest Evertonian ever!
Solution? I don't think we buy ‘winners' on a downward trajectory. We buy up-and-coming, hungry-as-fuck players and we offer them a platform to play with our other quality young players.
We have the winner as a manager but, until he can escape the senior serial losers in the squad, we'll always get to the cusp of doing something then fall on our own swords.
51 Posted 07/03/2020 at 19:12:33
In another few seasons, we will have lost the lot: Coleman, Baines and Jagielka. Three players who have given everything they had for the club.
Sadly time caught up with Coleman through a horrible injury, and Jagielka; Baines for me still has a season or so left in the tank. So, although I get where you are coming from, Winston, I could not include those three players as bottlers.
52 Posted 07/03/2020 at 19:17:11
However, the main reason I included them is they are from the Moyes era, and in the recent past, when we've needed to win and haven't, they were there.
I agree, they gave it everything, it's just never been enough... when it mattered.
53 Posted 07/03/2020 at 19:23:43
The quality of the Championship is not significantly below that of the Premier League below the rich 4 or 5. Sheffield Utd are doing well because they play a limited but well-organised game with all players knowing their roles and they're well coached to do this.
Chances are they'll go down in a couple of years because they don't have the resources to maintain and improve on this. Our aims are massively above theirs; they will fail if they get relegated again, we'll fail if we don't get into the Champions League positions.
Brian @46, He's done nothing but good and is one of the best servants the club has ever had. We're not weakened by his presence but, out of respect to him, Digne must take the load off him now and let him have his wonderful cameos only when needed.
54 Posted 07/03/2020 at 19:45:44
I'm a fan of the Championship. It's just that all our defenders are internationals and we've got England's Number 1 and sometimes the lapses in concentration and stupid mistakes we make are unbelievable.
Sheffield Utd are well drilled and used to playing with each other. I just find it hard to believe that thier defending puts ours to shame.
55 Posted 07/03/2020 at 19:51:57
2-1 Blues. Race for 4th-5th-6th will need a shoehorn.
56 Posted 07/03/2020 at 20:10:35
57 Posted 07/03/2020 at 20:25:20
Right, hear me out: I do not hold Carlo in any way responsible, because there is no-one in the first team squad that he has been signed by him. Basically he has inherited a squad, some bad, some good, and some downright ugly!
With all due deference to Carlo, he recognises (I think and hope so anyway) that there is a nucleus of decent players, but because of previous incumbents, he is also lumbered with much deadwood.
As they say, "Rome wasn't built in a day", but we are led to believe these sayings were built on true accounts!
58 Posted 07/03/2020 at 22:32:24
Carlo knows the score and will have a plan to take Chelsea out. We can't afford a defeat, simple as, but we deserve and have earned some luck the past few weeks, with the rank officials and our own rank basic mistakes.
Tomorrow, it's got to be ruthless and clinical, and it can be done. But no fuck-ups self-inflicted by the team.
59 Posted 07/03/2020 at 23:40:32
I am with Dave Abrahams, given the paucity of our midfield options I would consider putting Bainesy in there.
The rest of the team picks itself except I would leave Keane (lack of concentration) on the bench and play Mina alongside Holgate.
It will be a tough game but we are due some luck and they are not in great shape at the moment.
60 Posted 08/03/2020 at 01:02:43
61 Posted 08/03/2020 at 01:09:18
62 Posted 08/03/2020 at 04:10:58
We win, we're on 40 points.
We win, we're only 5 points back from 4th place.
Tomorrow defines whether we can indeed go to Europe, or if another year of a Floridian not being able to play hooky from work mid-week afternoons is the norm.
If we win, it's on. We lose, it's next season.
63 Posted 08/03/2020 at 07:19:06
For me, Sigurdsson has to bow out. I like Sigi, I don't want to keep knocking him, but he has been so poor this season, he has to go in the summer (Brands's most difficult task) but we simply can't pick him anymore.
My team: Pickford, Sidibé, Mina, Holgate, Digne, Walcott, Davies, Gomes, Bernard, Calvert-Lewi, Richarlison.
64 Posted 08/03/2020 at 07:50:32
Stay in the game, slowly win the battle, and then go for the jugular, against the most hot-&-cold team in the league, who are down to the bare bones, which surely means we couldn't have picked a better time to play them.
Posting this now, I am gutted I'm not going, but hope that everyone who does go, gets one of those special days on the road and the train. Go and fight, Everton, go and win the game!
65 Posted 08/03/2020 at 07:58:03
Or possibly even Schneiderlin in there along with Davies and Gomes and move to something closer to a 4-3-3?
Hopefully midfield won't be such a dreary prospect next season.
66 Posted 08/03/2020 at 08:19:45
Bernard has certainly been patchy away from home but I think he has been a real bright spark for us generally lately, even some of his substitute appearances in away matches.
Schneiderlin is out for 2 months isn't he? I agree, though, our midfield selection doesn't draw inspiration really, does it? I have long felt this season that our defence's woes are actually midfield woes and a couple of quality additions will solve both areas next season. COYB.
67 Posted 08/03/2020 at 08:37:27
Great game coming up again and these days the difference is we can compete, that is gold dust compared to recent times. I think we will all be frustrated again with Chelsea just having too much for us at Stampford Bridge.
68 Posted 08/03/2020 at 08:45:41
69 Posted 08/03/2020 at 08:47:59
70 Posted 08/03/2020 at 09:07:49
Thank you for the Ancelotti incite on Bernard, explains a lot.
71 Posted 08/03/2020 at 09:14:16
Let's hope he manages to 'incite' the whole team – not just Bernard, eh!
73 Posted 08/03/2020 at 09:46:37
74 Posted 08/03/2020 at 10:18:31
Thanks for the definition of incite, I thought it had something to do with inner thoughts and behind the scenes. Can it be used as a noun or verb? Everton are going to need your 'incite' today.
75 Posted 08/03/2020 at 11:00:29
76 Posted 08/03/2020 at 11:04:20
Sidibé Keane Holgate Baines
Gomes Davies Delph
Walcott Calvert-Lewin Richarlison
Playing as 4-5-1 initially and morphing into 4-3-3 once the game has settled down.
I would like to see Baningime play in centre-midfield but can't see it happening.
What has happened to Gordon? He seems to have fallen off the face of the earth?
77 Posted 08/03/2020 at 11:18:14
78 Posted 08/03/2020 at 11:20:14
I'll leave team selection to Carlo, but I would like to see Tom Davies get a run of games alongside Gomes to give him the chance to prove he can be an important player for us in the same way Holgate has. If he doesn't seize the opportunity, then at least we know where we stand. Odd appearances every few weeks don't help him or the team.
79 Posted 08/03/2020 at 13:05:54
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