We’re about to reach the half-way point of the 2017-18 Premier League season as Chelsea travel up to Goodison to take on suddenly not-struggling Everton on Matchday 19.
Chelsea have met the Toffees twice already this season, both times at home, both times coming out as winners (and facing a different manager each and every time, including this game). A 2-0 win in the league back in late August (Fabregas, Morata with the goals) was followed by a 2-1 win in the League Cup a couple months later (Rudiger and Willian with the goals). But that Everton is long gone, sucked into Big Sam’s Nexus of Annoying, ready to ruin everyone’s holiday season.
So this should be ... fun.
Date / Time: Saturday, December 23, 2017, 12:30 GMT; 7:30am EST; 6pm IST
Venue: Goodison Park, Liverpool, England
Referee: Bobby Madley — Madley’s back for his first Chelsea game since the Community Shield against Arsenal. Wonder who he’ll send off this time?
Forecast: Unseasonably mild, if a bit breezy
On TV: Sky Sports (UK); NBCSN (USA); Star Sports Select HD1 (India); elsewhere
Streaming online: Sky Go (UK); NBC Sports Live Extra (USA); Hotstar
Everton team news: Everton have yet to lose since Allardyce took over, winning 5 of 6 and even getting a (lucky) draw at Anfield. That’s quite the turnaround considering that they had won just 1 of their previous 12 games, though other than the Merseyside Derby, it’s been a rather kind fixture list. Chelsea should be Big Sam’s first true test as Toffees manager ... though Big Sam’s out-tack-ticking ways will probably render Goodison Chelsea’s bogey ground once again as well.
Everton remain without several big-name players, but should welcome back Yannick Bolasie after a year out with a knee injury. Ross Barkley, James McCarthy, Seamus Coleman, and Leighton Baines are in various states of injured and will be for a while longer. But with a strong midfield of Schneiderlin and Gueye in Allardyce’s ultra-defensive system, Everton will pose a tough challenge regardless of the other names on the teamsheet.
View from the enemy: Royal Blue Mersey
Chelsea team news: Alvaro Morata’s suspension for yellow card accumulation is a not-insignificant issue and will probably force Chelsea to play the small lineup version of the 3-4-3 once again. That setup has always gotten points when deployed (either by choice or by circumstance), so hopefully that will be the case once again. David Luiz is back in light training but remains out, while Charly Musonda has been nursing yet another injury as of late, too.
Chelsea have won 8 of 10 in the league and three in a row in all competitions, and will be looking to keep those good times rolling.
Previously: A well-rotated Chelsea earned a 2-1 victory in the League Cup in late October.