Fresh off wins in the FA Cup Semi-Finals last Saturday, Chelsea and Everton will meet Wednesday at Stamford Bridge in league competition. This will be the 2nd meeting between these two teams in the league, with the first meeting ending in a 0-0 draw at Goodison Park that saw Chelsea captain John Terry sent off for dangerous foul play.This time, the venue changes and Everton have won just once in their last 16 visits Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea’s Keys To Victory
For Chelsea to win, they must not let complacency takeover. This is an Everton squad that is a bit short on depth and they will be playing just 3 days after their emotional win over United at Wembley. While Everton won that match, they were not overly impressive in doing so, while Chelsea’s midfield trio of Ballack, Lampard, and Essien overwhelmed the Arsenal midfield en route to the result. One interesting note for Chelsea is that Alex appears to be the preferred pairing for Terry right now, instead of Ricardo Carvalho. I would think that sooner, rather than later, Carvalho would be needed, especially with the vital match with Barcelona in our sights.
Injury-wise, Deco and Bosingwa are out for Chelsea, meaning that Ivanovic will probably start on the right, with the rest of the team relatively the same. We may see Kalou start the match for Anelka, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the normal 11 out there from the start.
Key Man For Chelsea
Frank Lampard. How he was left off the PFA Player of the Year shortlist is a mystery to me. Lampard has been everything for Chelsea this season and has been the glue that held the team together during the early part of the season. If you watch the team closely, he isn’t getting the goals that he has in the past, but every attack goes through him. It was his brilliant passes that freed Malouda and Drogba for their goals on the weekend, highlighting how Super Frank has become the complete box to box midfielder.
Everton’s Keys to Victory
Hang in there and hope to nick a goal off set pieces, where Chelsea have shown a bit of weakness. Aside from that, Everton are missing a couple key players in Yakubu and Mikel Arteta to season ending injuries. That has robbed them of their most dangerous striker and most creative midfielder, respectively.
I think that Everton will have to stall out the midfield and hope to catch Chelsea out. The problem for Everton is their lack of attacking power, that showed up against United on Sunday. That match showed a team that was playing well below their best (United) and a team that didn’t have the firepower to take advantage of that (Everton). I have to think that Chelsea will field a stronger side than United’s and should be able to win.
Key Man for Everton
Tim Cahill. If Everton are to take advantage of the set piece, then their most dangerous weapon is Cahill. He has a sneaky ability to get himself into spaces to win headers and find the back of the net. Chelsea must account for him on set pieces or risk having him score.
I can’t see Everton getting a point in this one. If these last two weeks have shown anything, it’s that the belief of the squad is back. They fought back down two goals to Liverpool. They fought back down a goal to Arsenal. The squad’s mental toughness is back. Add to that the fact that Drogba is scoring for fun now and Malouda is playing like the player we thought we’d gotten when we bought him and I have the belief that we should win this comfortably.
3-1 Chelsea is my prediction.