We wait until well into November for a home Saturday 3pm Kick Off, and then just like buses…
Everton are the guests this time as Ancelotti hopes to see out the weekend with us maintaining our top of the table status.
Our home league form can’t be faltered, seven wins in a row, netting four past Wolves, five past Blackburn and sandwiched between them was a win over Man United. It’s been over ten hours of football now since the solitary goal against us at home in the league, against Hull on the opening day.
Our last league match was a 2-1 defeat away to Man City, our third loss of the season, a match in which we created few chances and except a Lampard penalty never looked likely to grab an equaliser.
Jose Bosingwa and Alex are both doubts, Kalou should be out still, Essien has a torn hamstring and is expected to be out of action until after the Cup of Nations.
Who will get the nod at the apex of the diamond is anyones guess, Ancelotti kept faith in Deco for the full 90 minutes against Man City, and has preferred him to Joey Cole recently. Ballack and Lampard are likely to start in the middle of the diamond and with Essien injured Mikel should be playing the holding role.
Everton lie in a lowly 15th, and their away form can’t fill them with confidence, they’ve so far had seven away matches, losing five of them. Their only win at Stamford Bridge in the Premiership came over a decade ago, in SW6 our last three PL matches against each other have ended in a stalemate.
The Toffee’s squad is severely depleted for tomorrows encounter, Tim Cahill is suspended for picking up five bookings, captain Phil Neville is out, as are central defensive pairing Yobo and Distin, in midfield Arteta, Osman, Vaughan and alleged Chelsea target Gosling are missing. As is Anichebe and long term absentee Phil Jagilka won’t be back until after Christmas.
Set pieces have been our Achilles Heel so far, and with Fellaini comes height, although regular corner taker Arteta isn’t there to provide the assists. Russian Bilyaletdnov, Rodwell and Peinaar are expected to make up their midfield, with Jo playing just behind Saha. Tony Hibbert got moved into the centre of defence last weekend and is expected to be there again, alongside Lucas Neill, Jonny Heitinga will likely be their right back with Baines at left back.
Last seasons matches against each other both ended in goalless draws. The encounter at Goodison Park was reffed by tomorrow’s official Phil Dowd, the match was just before Christmas, John Terry was sent off for a lunge on Leon Osman.
The match at Stamford Bridge was the last time we dropped points in the league at home, Guus Hiddink’s Chelsea outfit probably turned in their worst home display under him, a midweek match in which Jo, Pienaar and Cahill all had chances to win it for the visitors.
There’s also the small matter of last seasons F.A Cup final that both sides contested, a half clearance by Alex resulted in Louis Saha beating Robbie Di Matteo’s record for the quickest goal in an F.A Cup final, before a Drogba header levelled in the first half. Frank Lampard created space for himself, turned onto his weaker left foot and scored a beauty of a curling shot to win it for us.
In his 13 PL games officiated this season, Phil Dowd has made four sendings off and booked 44 players. One of those red cards being Petr Cech away to Wigan back in September, a game in which he gave four bookings.
Predicted Team: Cech, A. Cole, Terry, Carvalho, Ivanovic, Mikel, Lampard, Ballack, Deco, Drogba, Anelka.
Predicted Score: It’s normally close against them, but with their injury problems I’m going for a 2-0 win.