After an international break that seemed to go on forever, attention finally turns back the Premier League as Jose Mourinho takes Chelsea to Goodison Park on Saturday.
This is a tale of two new managers, with Roberto Martinez only three games into his spell as David Moyes’ successor. It’s been an understated start so far for the Toffees, with draws in each game, and no goals since the opening day 2-2 at Norwich.
In an effort to increase the goal tally Martinez has brought in Romelu Lukaku from Chelsea, though the Belgian international is ineligible to make his debut against his parent club. Gareth Barry and James McCarthy – the other deadline day signings, could well make their first appearances however.
As for The Blues both Samuel Eto’o and Willian are in contention to make their debuts, while despite picking up a knock while on duty with Belgium, Eden Hazard is expected to be fit. Mourinho will also be buoyed by the impressive defensive displays of both Ashley Cole and in particular Gary Cahill for England in Ukraine. With David Luiz fit again there is now real competition for places at the back.
Further forward the guessing game about Chelsea’s best attacking line goes on, and with no new injuries to report, Mourinho has his full selection of midfield maestros to choose from.
This has been a feisty fixture down the years, and not always the easiest place to visit for Chelsea, with just two victories in our last ten league visits to Merseyside. In the corresponding fixture last season however, a Frank Lampard double secured all three points for the visitors. Though there have been goals down the years; the epic 3-2 in 2006 immediately springs to mind, the stats suggest it might be different this time with two of the league’s meanest defences on show. Between them, the two sides have allowed just 12 opposition shots on target so far this season, and both have two clean sheets from their first three matches.
Roberto Martinez will be desperate to get his first win as Everton manager, the Spaniard is on a barren run which has seen him win just one of his last eleven matches in the Premier League.
For Mourinho and Chelsea meanwhile it is about continuing a solid start to the season that has seen the Blues win both home games and pick up a hard earned point at Old Trafford. This is the beginning of a busy month for Mourinho’s men, with the Champions League and Capital One Cup both getting underway between London derbies with Fulham and the trip to Spurs. A good platform this weekend is vital to a good month, and no doubt Mourinho and his staff will be telling the players just that. With a couple of new faces looking to impress too, and opposition yet to really find their feet, The Blues will feel this is very much a game they can win, but should be ready for a tough battle against an always competitive host, roared on by the ever-vocal Everton faithful.