Everton have always been annoying to face, no matter whether it was home or away. Granted, Roberto Martinez's side is very different to the one David Moyes headed up, but they've still had a habit of irritating most of their opponents, have already beaten us once this year, and are probably not going to be very much fun to play against tomorrow.
That said, we're going to be even less fun to play against. The trip to Stamford Bridge is one of the most difficult fixtures in the Premier League, and I can't imagine anyone at Everton's particularly thrilled about going up against us. The Toffees have been struggling recently, too -- they have two wins, two draws and two losses in league play since the beginning of the year, including an absolute pasting by Liverpool -- so there's no reason to be afraid of this match. It's just going to be annoying.
What's new at Everton since the last time we played them? The main change is that they've acquired another hefty striker on loan, and this one can play against us. At 6'8", the Ivorian is a real handful in the air,and with the Toffee's ability to get the fullbacks forward and cross, our defenders are going to have their hands full. Traore comes to England from Monaco after a spell at Anzhi Makhachkala, where he played alongside both Willian and Samuel Eto'o; the former giving us a quick preview of what we're in store for should he start:
He's a great player, He's a very tall player who can protect the ball and knows how to score goals. We will have to be very attentive and take good notice of him because he's a dangerous player and if you give him an opportunity he will score.
So that sounds fun. Fortunately, Traore will be saying similar things about Willian, and I can only imagine Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas talking about Eden Hazard as though he's some sort of demi-god sent to Earth to make defenders cry. Chelsea should be wary, especially of Traore and Ross Barkley (whom I imagine will get a good bit of attention from Nemanja Matic), but there's no need to be scared.
At the end of the day, we're the ones at the top of the table and playing at home, and we're the ones who are going to be in the driving seat as we look for three points. I'd expect the Blues to come out swinging -- they'll want to ensure they keep hold of their number one spot after working so hard to achieve it.
Opponent: Everton (5th; 45pts from 25 games).
Venue: Stamford Bridge, London.
Date/Time: Saturday, February 21. 12:45 pm GMT (7:45 am EST, 6:15 pm IST)
Forecast: Sunny and warmish. How nice.
Everton squad news: Steven Naismith is available after being pulled off against Swansea with a concussion, while Romelu Lukaku is ineligible to play against us. Bryan Oviedo, Arouna Kone and Darron Gibson are all out injured.
How to watch: BT Sport 1 (UK). NBCSN (USA). Star Sports 4, Star Sports 2 HD (India).
Streaming: NBC Sports Live Extra (USA).