Graham Potter and Chelsea have been much happier hunting in the month of March. The Blues have started a run of three straight victories in all competitions after winning just one game out of eleven in all competitions in January and February. A home victory over Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League was wedged between league victories over Crystal Palace and Leeds.
But perhaps a flexible schedule has just aided them. After all, Crystal Palace has gone the longest in the division without a victory, while Leeds are presently 19th. This season, Chelsea has excelled at defeating the teams they “should” defeat while humbling themselves against superior competition. This season, Potter’s team has gone winless against any of the league’s top 10 teams (P11 D5 L6), but they have triumphed in 10 of their 15 encounters with the league’s bottom half.
Hence, it is nice that they will be hosting Everton at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. Not only that, but the Toffees are in desperate need of a win since they are in 15th position. Since suffering a 1-0 setback in November 1994, Chelsea has gone undefeated in 27 home Premier League meetings against Everton (W15 D12). Throughout their history of the Premier League, they have never had a longer undefeated streak against a team at Stamford Bridge.
Everton haven’t been very adept at playing away from home. They have scored 68% of their points at Goodison Park this year, including a crucial three against Brentford in their most recent league contest.
They’ve been indigent while travelling for some time. Only two of Sean Dyche’s team’s previous 30 away Premier League games have ended in a victory (D8 L20), and only two clean sheets have been recorded during this stretch. The Toffees have gained less road victories (three) and road points (18) since the start of the previous campaign than any of the other 17 ever-present teams.
On the first day of the 2022–23 season, these two teams faced off in reverse. In football, seven months is a long period. Both clubs had different managers in the dugouts, with Thomas Tuchel in control of Chelsea and Frank Lampard in command of Everton.
Kepa Arrizabalaga was remained on the bench, perhaps indefinitely, and Édouard Mendy was still the preferred goalkeeper. Even Jorginho, the goal scorer for Chelsea that day who went to Arsenal, has since departed the team. 15 shots were made by Tuchel’s team in this game. Only four times this season have they recorded more than that in a single game. If Chelsea wins this match, it will be the first time since 2016–17 that they have defeated Everton twice in league play.
WHEN & WHERE?
Where: Stamford bridge, London.
When: Saturday 18th March 2023.
Time: 05:30 PM GMT.
Referee: Darren England.
Assistants: Dan Cook and Dan Robathan
Fourth official: Craig Pawson.
VAR: Chris Kavanagh
Assistant VAR: Stuart Burt.
Wesley Fofana’s apparent injury late in the game against his previous team Leicester left jaws open, but the center-back was spotted enjoying the festivities and seemed to have escaped a severe issue, which is more than can be said for many of Potter’s other first-team regulars.
Yet, there is optimism for everyone, including Armando Broja and Thiago Silva, as well as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Cesar Azpilicueta, Mason Mount, Raheem Sterling, Edouard Mendy, Reece James, and N’Golo Kante, who may eventually be selected for a matchday squad for the first time since August.
However, only James may have a chance to make the starting Lineup from the questionable list, while Joao Felix should keep his position despite being substituted at halftime at the King Power Stadium due to a tactical change.
With regard to Everton, Dyche had no new injuries to report following the victory against Brentford and may be able to welcome Dominic Calvert-Lewin back from his most recent thigh injury, but the injury-prone striker won’t be considered for the starting lineup just yet.
Just Andros Townsend may be watching this game for the visitors if Nathan Patterson recovers from a knee injury, but they should field a recognisable starting lineup since there is no reason to change what is working.
With the same starting lineup, Ben Godfrey would continue to contain Vitaly Mykolenko on the left, but Conor Coady would be ready to step in should Dyche choose a defense-heavy formation.
Chelsea: Kai Havertz
For the second time in his career, Kai Havertz is attempting to score in three straight games for Chelsea in all competitions. He previously accomplished this feat in March 2022. This season, the German is the Blues’ leading scorer across all competitions (8). A definite indication of his increasing confidence was his amazing volleyed lob for Chelsea’s second goal against Leicester following Enzo Fernandez’s scooped through pass.
Everton: James Tarkowski
James Tarkowski, Dyche’s dependable center-back, will once more be the key if Everton is to have any chance of rescuing a result from this match. Against Brentford, the Englishman was outstanding, finishing all three of his tackles, making seven clearances, and taking nine out of his 13 duels. On either team, no player generated more than he did in any of those areas.
Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Kepa; Fofana, Koulibaly, Cucurella; James, Kovacic, Fernandez, Chilwell; Mudryk, Havertz, Felix
Everton possible starting lineup:
Pickford; Coleman, Tarkowski, Keane, Godfrey; Iwobi, Onana, Gueye, Doucoure, McNeil; Gray