Chelsea face Everton at Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening, and after an upturn in form, and some extremely good recent performances, the spirits are high.
The win and performance away at Southampton was extremely impressive, and after early season woes defensively, the side now look well drilled and organised in the new system.
The results against Manchester United and Southampton with an unchanged side will likely mean that we see this eleven fielded from the off again, and to be fair there is no one that is droppable after those matches.
After four matches without a victory, Everton got back to winning ways last time out with a 2-0 success at home to West Ham. They are likely to line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation. After an excellent start to the season they had dropped of prior to last weekend, and will now be looking to kick on again.
Key areas tactically will be how the flanks are marshalled, and whether Everton can be drawn out. The first point here is of interest, as Oviedo, and particularly Coleman provide a key source of width going forward for Everton. In our current system, the opposition full backs will need to be tracked by our two wingers, likely to be Pedro and Hazard. Conte may well put Pedro on the right to face up to Coleman who in recent matches has ventured furthest forward of Everton’s full backs, but the point here is that either are likely to punish us if given the freedom to roam untracked. With the likelihood of a 2v3 situation in Everton’s favour in the centre of the pitch, we cannot afford to have to pull Kante or Matic into wide areas to pick up an untracked full back.
As to the second point, against both Manchester United and Southampton, we were able to counter attack with great success, especially against Southampton. This now looks like a key attribute to our forward play. The main reason this worked was that Southampton enjoyed periods of possession that we defended perfectly, forcing them wide and making them commit more players, this left the space for us to counter attack into. Everton may not be as keen to play this game as they are away from home and under less pressure to play for a win. For instance in their 1-1 draw away against Manchester City, they only had 27% off the possession and were in their own half for the majority of the match. In our win at St Mary’s, we had 45% of the possession. So it becomes a different test of our system tactically if we have to break down a side that is sitting deeper and reluctant to push up. In their draw away at the Etihad, Koeman employed slightly different tactics. Playing against a back three, Coleman and Oviedo were used less, and diagonal balls were hit out to their wingers to try and use the space wide and stretched the Manchester City central defenders, with their wing backs unable to cover them as they were further up the pitch. This may be a tactic we will have to be aware off if Everton do end up being pinned back. This is especially the case with the rapid Bolasie likely to be one of their wide players.
This will be the 17th meeting between the sides, with Chelsea on top with 68 wins. We faced each other three times last season, with Everton knocking us out of the FA Cup in the quarter finals with a 2-0 win at Goodison park, where they also turned us over 3-1 in the league. The reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge was a 3-3 draw. We do however have an excellent record against the Evertonians at Stamford Bridge, with 39 wins and only 12 defeats in the league, with 25 draws. It is also 22 years since Everton won at the Bridge, and we have a 21 match unbeaten run against them at home in the league. Everton have taken six draws out of their last ten visits though, including another 3-3 in 09/10. Prior to our draw last season, we had won the previous four meetings at home. Chelsea have also netted the most goals against Everton, so there are plenty of good omens for a home win here.