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Everton vs. Chelsea: Team News & Preview

With the 19th match of the 2012-13 Premier League season and the last ever in the year 2012, Chelsea visit the fortress that is Goodison Park.

It was not a good day.
It was not a good day.
Alex Livesey

I must warn you, I'm going skiing tomorrow. This may seem like a trivial thing to you, after all it is only me who thusly won't be able to watch this match on TV or the Internet and will have to instead rely on radio "commentary," but listen to me and listen to me very carefully.

Sixteen score and three days ago, yours truly woke up bright and early - well not really bright, it was still dark - and roused the troops for battle. The wife complained and the dog growled discontentedly, but plans had been made and deadlines had to be kept. The mountain was calling and the mountain was two hours away.

Hastily and sleepily, final preparations were made. Supplies loaded, foodstuffs packed and stowed, living organisms properly attired and restrained, we set out in advance of 7 A.M. Pacific Standard Time. Just as the sun started peaking over the Sierra Nevadas, the highly uninformative tones of Chelsea Radio came on the airwaves (satellite waves?). For the next two hours, just until the turn-off to our destination, our hearts and minds and ears bore witness to something. Something not of this world. Something abysmal. Something... something... Stracqualursi (Cthulhu?). Something awful. Something that was "complete and utter dross." Not my words, Graham's.

You've been warned.

Everton: Quick, name one of the two teams that lead the Premier League in fewest defeats with two and one of the two teams that have yet to lose at home this season. If you've answered Everton, you are correct. Is this amazing? I think it's fairly amazing.

Along with Stoke City, Everton have yet to lose on home soil this season (a run of 13 home matches, in fact, since last season) and have come away with zero points just twice from 19 overall (along with Manchester City, who now have played 20). Amazing. One of their losses is but of course to Reading. Also amazing.

Unfortunately for Everton, their talisman and one-man wrecking crew Tony Hibbert Marouane Fellaini remains unavailable as he serves the final match of his three-match suspension for Zidane-ing Ryan Shawcross. And so, fortunately for Chelsea, Fellaini's other Zidane-esque skills - namely his absolute ability to be a game-changer - will thus be confined to not the pitch on Sunday.

Kevin Mirallas will not be on the pitch either, so Eden Hazard should have the clear upper hand in the Belgian bragging rights. I'd have put a disclaimer here about how this is provided that Hazard plays but let's not kid ourselves, the £32-million-dollar-man has yet to miss a Chelsea contest.

But back to Everton. With the aforementioned trio of absentees, the Toffees will draw strength from the suddenly decent Darron Gibson's return - that's Darron with an 'o' because why not and that's a possible return because of a potential lingering thigh injury.

Everton are unbeaten in seven and their last thirteen matches have all ended in one of three scorelines: 1-1, 2-2, or 2-1. Mesmerizing.

Chelsea: Quick, count the number of times the Blues have defeated... umm... the other blues in the last eight matches. If you've counted to just one, you are correct. Is this amazing? You bet it is amazing. It's amazingly bad.

On the flip side, Chelsea have lost just once in seven in all competitions. Of course that one loss was to Corinthians and the rest of the wins have come against the likes of CF Monterrey and Aston Villa. Wednesday's 1-0 away win at Norwich is probably the result from which we could draw the most hope of perhaps managing to get something out of Everton.

In injury news, the Blues welcome back Ramires who was a surprise omission midweek. Apparently he had some sort of a knee injury. Also suffering from some sort of a knee injury: John Obi Mikel. And John Terry. And Oriol Romeu. And Yossi Benayoun? Knee injuries are the new Marko Marins! Ryan Bertrand has a lingering groin injury. Who does he think he is, ignoring the knee injury diktat?!

Eleven other players will get to line up in a 4-2-3-1. Radical, as usual.

Date/Time: Sunday, December 30th, 13:30 GMT; 8:30 A.M. EST; 7:00 P.M. IST

Venue: Goodison Park, Liverpool

TV Information: Sky Sports 1 (UK); Fox Soccer (USA); ESPN (India)

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