Frank Lampard's Chelsea will be hoping to extend our 17-game unbeaten run in all competitions on Saturday when we face Everton, who have suffered a dip in form after a high-flying start to the season.
That doesn't make Carlo Ancelotti's team any less of a challenge to overcome, especially at Goodison Park, especially given their dangerous and rejuvenated attack led by James Rodriguez and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, and especially given Chelsea’s own injury troubles in attack.
"We’re the same as we were in midweek. Hakim Ziyech and Callum [Hudson-Odoi] we know are out for around a couple of weeks.
"Christian Pulisic had a tiny bit of awareness off the back of the Leeds game with one of his hamstrings but he’s training normally so we should be as we were. Christian is still a work in progress. I don’t want to call this an injury in midweek because if it had been a different type of game then I might have used him.
"We know his abilities and he showed them when he came on against Leeds last week. I just have to find the right way to get the best out of him quickly and consistently."
Chelsea are third on the points in the Premier League table but are second in goals scored and second in goals conceded as well. The underlying stats have shown tremendous improvement from last season, which have pushed some to label Chelsea as one of the title-contenders this season.
As always, Lampard has cooled such talks just yet, and has again urged consistency from the team. Chelsea are interested in being Champions in May, not mid-December, after all.
‘It was really hard to have clear expectations because of the variables at the start of the season — the Covid times, pre-season, new signings, some injuries, and I didn’t know how that would pan out. The start of the season was slightly false in terms of some of the performances and results, and at the moment we’re getting very good performances and results.
"The reality is we’re probably somewhere in the middle of that. We need to make sure that consistency is something we find going forward. I’m not sure where we are compared to expectations but I always want more.
"For us at Chelsea, it’s about how much we keep working and understand that consistency over a season is what wins titles, not matches up to the middle of December."
Winning matches up to December is important as well of course, including to allow the team to rest some players like we did in the midweek draw against Krasnodar. That game didn’t matter at all in terms of the Champions League group, since Chelsea were one of the few teams to secure a spot in the knockout rounds with two games to spare.
With a relentless Premier League schedule coming up over the festive period, the energy conserved should come in handy as we enter a period that could in fact strengthen our position as real challengers for the title, rather than just on paper pretenders.
“That’s why it was very important for us to win our group, get a real confidence boost from that and then put it away until the new year. We can now focus on what is a busy schedule and if you look at our next four games – Everton, Wolves, West Ham and then Arsenal on Boxing Day – you see exactly how challenging that is in a short space of time.
“It’s important to focus and it’s important for the squad to understand that this Premier League is so tough and unforgiving that if we drop our standards, we won’t be where we want to be.”
- Frank Lampard; source: Chelsea FC
Let's kick off the sweet festive madness with a win at the Toffees!