Back in the fall, we used to joke that the next game was always going to be the biggest test for what was then a brand new and yet unproven 3-4-3 tactical system. The system has since proven its quality, perhaps never more so than in the 5-0 smashing of Everton in the reverse fixture, and so the narrative shifted slightly.
Now, with Chelsea involved in a possibly close title-race, the next game is no longer a test. It’s a challenge instead. We know that the 3-4-3 can be all-conquering, but Everton away is never an easy conquest. Are Chelsea up to the challenge? We can only hope. With Spurs playing after on Sunday in the North London Derby, Chelsea have a great chance to put the pressure on the second place team instead.
The Toffees have been solid, especially at home, and even though Steven Naismith is no longer there to turn into Scottish Messi against us, they remain a daunting three points. Lukaku is a goal-machine, Gana Gueye is a close approximation of Kanté, and their defense is 5th best in the league in terms of goals conceded.
With everyone fit, Conte should be opting to play his strongest lineup possible.
Courtois | Cahill, David Luiz, Azpilicueta | Alonso, Matić, Kanté, Moses | Hazard, Costa, Pedro
The community’s preference is to keep the Cesc at inside forward thing going, which does unbalance the formation but certainly adds a different tactical wrinkle as Cesc drops in to make it more of a 3-5-2 at times. That can be helpful in possession, but not so much out of it. I think we’ll keep Cesc as a bench option for this one, in case he’s needed to snatch or secure a point or three at the end. (Pedro finished with 43% of the vote.)
Courtois (99%) | Cahill (81%), David Luiz (98%), Azpilicueta (98%) | Alonso (98%), Matić (72%), Kanté (99%), Moses (95%) | Hazard (99%), Costa (96%), Fàbregas (55%)