Thomas Tuchel has now gone unbeaten in his first ten Chelsea games, with seven wins and three draws in all competitions certainly steadying the ship and setting a solid platform for the Blues to try to finish the season in the top-four (and maybe challenge for a trophy or two).
But that job is far from done, and the margins remain far from comfortable. A win on Monday would certainly help — more pertinently, a loss or even a draw on Monday would be actively damaging in those prospects. Everton, who have gone nine unbeaten away from home (dating back to the start of November), are just one point behind us right now in fifth, and with a match-in-hand. West Ham (also with a match-in-hand) and Spurs (after their win against Crystal Palace) are just two points behind.
Meanwhile, Manchester United and Leicester City both won this weekend, and we need to keep pace with them to make his a crowded fight for more than just one place, fourth.
Date / Time: Monday, March 8, 2021, 18.00 GMT; 1pm EST; 11:30pm IST
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Chris Kavanagh (on pitch); Michael Oliver (VAR)
Forecast: Chance of rain
On TV: BT Sport 1 (UK); NBCSN, Universo (USA); Star Sports Select HD1 (India); SuperSport Premier League, Canal+ Sport 3 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: BT Sport Live (UK): NBC Sports Live, Universo Now (USA); Hotstar (India); DStv Now (NGA)
Chelsea team news: The only fitness concerns for Chelsea at the moment are Thiago Silva and Tammy Abraham, neither of whom traveled with the team on Thursday. Silva’s missed an entire month now with his thigh injury, while Tammy’s been dealing with an ankle knock off and on for the last three weeks. It seemed to get better, only to now evidently flare up again.
Tuchel’s other concern is of course picking the correct lineups with so many choice at his disposal. It’s a tricky balance, and he’s thus bound to upset some regardless of what lineup and bench he names for any given match. But so far, he’s been making most of the right moves and correct calls.
Chelsea’s defensive excellence has been a welcome sight, but our lack of goals continues to be a concern. Playing for just one or two moments of quality to make the ultimate difference can be a winning strategy, but one that will always carry significant inherent risk of dropped points. (Even if a manager like Mourinho once boasted about how “easy” it is to win 1-0.)
Everton team news: It’s been a bit of a roller-coaster second season for Ancelotti, trading hot streaks for bad moments and vice-versa. Last time we played them, our match was a turning point, from bad to good. Now they arrive in a good moment; can we make this another turning point for them, from good to bad this time?
Everton will be without Yerry Mina, Jean-Philippe Gbamin, and Fabian Delph, while the likes of Seamus Coleman, Tom Davies, and James Rodriguez are dealing with various minor knocks — but which are not really expected to keep any of them out.
Richarlison has scored four of Everton’s last five goals and is the clear and present danger once again. He’s only lost two of his seven games against Chelsea in his young career. Meanwhile, Dominic Calvert-Lewin may have cooled off a bit, with just two Premier League goals in the last three months, but he has two goals and an assist in his last three games against us.
View from the enemy: Royal Blue Mersey
Previously: Everton have not won at the Bridge since 1994 outside of a penalty shootout in the 2011 FA Cup fourth round (incidentally, with Ancelotti as Chelsea boss), and their last visit was the last game before the pandemic shutdown. A Billy Gilmour-inspired Chelsea ran out 4-0 winners that day.