LOCATION: Stamford Bridge
KICK-OFF TIME: 17:30 BST and 01:30 PM EST
BETTING LINE : Chelsea to win at 8/15, draw at 16/5, and lose at 19/4.
PREMIER LEAGUE RECORD: 7-1-2
NEXT OPPONENT: Middlesbrough
PREMIERE LEAGUE RECORD: 5-3-2
NEXT OPPONENT: Swansea
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Armchair has put Eden Hazard in the Team of the Week for the past three weeks, and he’ll probably earn a spot there again this week. The Belgian is oozing with confidence at the moment, and you can be sure that he’ll give Everton’s back line trouble. With Stekelenburg doubtful to start between the sticks due to injury, it wouldn’t be surprising if Hazard found the back of net more than once tomorrow.
With seven goals on the season so far, Romelu Lukaku has looked very sharp. There was talk of Chelsea buying the Belgian striker last summer for a very large sum, yet the Blues apparently balked at the figure (which was probably a good thing for them). As a result of all this chatter about his future, Lukaku will have something to prove, even if Mourinho is no longer managing the team. You can bet Luiz, Cahill, and Dave will have their hands full keeping the big man quiet this game.
PREDICTED LINE UPS AND POSITION REVIEW
SWANSEA POSITION PREVIEW
Goalkeeper – Thibaut Courtois
Thanks to a watertight defense, Thibaut Courtois has barely been tested over the last few fixtures. Chelsea limited Leicester and Southampton to a combined two shots on target, both of which T-bo dealt with easily. Against that glorious United match, the Belgian was called into action more, and he certainly rose to the challenge, making several quality saves against Herrera. While many have questioned his abilities in the wake of his knee injury last season, Courtois seems to be finding his old 2014-2015 form, as does the rest of the squad as well.
Defenders – Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Cahill
Throughout all of October, Chelsea’s back three did not let a single goal in. Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz, and Gary Cahill all looked extremely strong, and it’s hard to believe that two of the three were part of the Blues’ leaky defense last season. Conte’s new back three seems to be the perfect formation for them, allowing one to push forward while the other two cover. While David Luiz has gotten lots of praise for being the ball-playing centre-back Chelsea needed him to be, Azpilicueta has been arguably better than Geezer, successfully dominating any position asked of him and almost never making mistakes. Cahill also took a lot of flak for ‘mistakes’ against Swansea and Arsenal, but he has redeemed himself and looked very strong lately. Going up against Lukaku, you can bet the Chelsea back three will have their hands full.
Midfields – Moses, Kante, Matic, Alonso
Chelsea’s midfield four have been absolutely stellar since the humiliation against Arsenal in September. Moses seems to excel at right-back, Alonso is doing better than any Blues fan thought he would, and Kante and Matic are arguably the best midfield pairing in the league. These four have been playing out of their skin for the last month, and there is no reason to expect that tomorrow’s fixture would be any different.
Forwards – Pedro, Costa, Hazard
Chelsea’s forwards have looked hungry for the last few fixtures. Pedro has looked better under Conte than he ever did Mourinho, Costa is the league’s top scorer, and Hazard will probably get Player of the Month for October. These three have been deadly this season, and a back three of Jagielka, Williams, and Mori will be able to hold them back.
LIVERPOOL POSITION PREVIEW
Goalkeeper – Stekelenburg
Maarten Stekelenburg has been one of the best keepers in the league so far this season, making some absurd saves that no keeper should. However, he may not feature between the sticks because of a recent injury. Even if he does, he’ll have quite a bit of trouble keeping Pedro, Costa, and Hazard from finding the back of the net.
Defenders – Jagielka, Williams, Mori
Everton’s back line has been solid so far this season, with the former Swansea man Ashley Williams being a fantastic addition to replace John Stones. Having allowed seven goals so far this season, the Toffee’s defense has been fairly stout – but if there’s ever an attacking trio that can put a few past the keeper, it’s Hazard, Pedro, and Costa.
Midfielders – Barry, Cleverly, Oviedo, Coleman
As midfield’s go, Everton’s has been solid so far this campaign. Barry and Coleman have stood out especially strong, but Oviedo hasn’t been weak either. Cleverley could be a weak link, and Chelsea’s midfield duo of Matic and Kante may look to exploit that.
Forwards – Bolasie, Lukaku, Deulofeu
While Bolasie has looked strong, Romelu Lukaku has been Everton’s stand-out player. The young Belgian is the Toffees’ player to watch, and he will certainly be a threat to Chelsea’s defense. The twenty-three-year-old already has seven goals so far this season, only one behind league-leader Diego Costa. Against the club that nearly bought his this past summer, you can bet he’ll have something to prove.
While the Blues are favored in this, Everton will undoubtedly put up a fight. The Toffees started the season sharp but slumped in October before rebounding against West Ham last weekend. Heading into the international break, they’ll want to give it their all and proved they’ve earned their spot at sixth in the table.
On the other hand, Chelsea have arguably been the best team in October, scoring six goals and conceding none through their four league wins. Ever since Conte shifted the squad to a 3-4-3, the difference has been night and day – and there’s no reason to think that tomorrow will be any different.
This match will come down to the midfield: both squads have looked defensively sound as of late, and their forwards are certainly in form. As a result, the center of the pitch will be crucial for both teams, with whoever can dominate it likely to be the victor. As biased as I am, it’s tough to ignore just how good Chelsea’s midfield has looked as of late. Kante and Matic are fantastic at both breaking up play and helping andvance the ball downfield. These two will certainly be instrumental in conquering Everton, and with them matched up against Cleverley and Barry, it’s not hard to imagine who will win out.
The Blues will win 2-0, keeping their impressive record at the Bridge and solidifying their place in the top four.