Some of the best football we’ve ever seen at Stamford Bridge came under the stewardship of a certain Carlo Ancelotti. Not-coincidentally, it also encompassed Frank Lampard’s career-best scoring season, when Chelsea’s all-time leading goalscorer notched 22 in the league and 27 in all competitions as Carlo’s Chelsea dazzled their way to a famous Double.
The football that’s set to be on offer this weekend as those two protagonists face each other for the first time ever, is a far cry from what that 2009-10 Chelsea side produced. It’s perhaps not such a far cry from the 2010-11 edition however, when Lampard’s one and only major injury of his career — the abductor that he’s been using as an example to explain Christian Pulisic’s situation — contributed massively to Ancelotti’s bad moment and Chelsea running out of steam in the winter, and the manager’s eventual sacking.
But all that is literally history and matters not for the matter at hand. What matters now is Chelsea looking to find some consistency and Everton looking to find some relevance. It’s yet another must-win for either, but especially Chelsea.
Date / Time: Sunday, March 8, 2020, 14.00 GMT; 10am EDT; 7:30pm IST
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Kevin Friend (on pitch); Martin Atkinson (VAR)
Forecast: Partly sunny, but breezy and wet, possible showers
On TV: Sky Sports Main Event (UK); NBCSN (USA); ??? (India); Canal+ Sport 2, SuperSport 3 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: Sky Go (UK); NBC Sports Live, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo (USA); Hotstar? (India); DStv Now (NGA)
Chelsea team news: Despite all the injuries, Chelsea have notched a couple excellent wins in recent weeks, beating Spurs and Liverpool in the league and the FA Cup, respectively. Perhaps even more impressively, we’ve done so at home! Have we finally turned that corner at least — then again, our next three after this are all away, in three different competitions.
But back to those injuries. Mateo Kovačić is the newest name on the list, and that’s a big problem since he’s been our most consistently excellent player all season. Young Billy Gilmour impressed on Tuesday, and he’ll probably have to do so again with Jorginho also out due to suspension. Same goes for Ross Barkley and Pedro as well, with the likes of Christian Pulisic, Callum Hudson-Odoi, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek all varying degrees of injured still. RLC is probably closest and should be on the bench. N’Golo Kanté and Tammy Abraham also remain out while Willian is likely to be a game-time decision due to the knock he picked up on Tuesday.
All that leaves Lampard with fewer options in attack, though he has a lot of defenders to choose from, which could see a return to the 3-4-3 once again. Lampard does have options in goal as wel, with Kepa giving him lots to think about with Tuesday’s clean sheet.
With Manchester United lucky to escape with a draw against Everton last weekend, they remain three points behind the Blues in fifth. But with just five points separating 4th through 8th, there’s plenty of twists and turns left in the last ten matches of this slow boat race for top-four/-five.
Everton team news: Ancelotti will be without newly injured Seamus Coleman and Morgan Schneiderlin, both expected to miss weeks if not months. Big summer signing Jean-Philippe Gbamin has been injured practically all season. In better news for the Toffees, left back Lucas Digne should be fit.
Emerging stars Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Mason Holgate have signed new deals this week, underlining the promise of Ancelotti’s appointment and future ambitions. We know Uncle Carlo’s a winner and he’s surely intent on making his (surprising) Everton appointment a success as well ... eventually, though he’s already making visible progress.
Ancelotti has lost just 2 games in the league since his appointment, to Manchester City and Arsenal and they were very unlucky to not beat Manchester United last weekend — referee Chris Kavanagh was pretty lucky to not get beaten personally as well. (Carlo escaped with a fine rather than a touchline ban.) The only real blip on his Merseyside record so far is losing to Liverpool B in the FA Cup with a full-strength team.
View from the enemy: Royal Blue Mersey
Previously: Chelsea’s first game against Everton this season was a bit of a disaster, so let’s watch some training instead.