Chelsea face Everton in a midweek fixture on Wednesday, as they look to maintain their lead at the top of the table. Chelsea are expected to have star midfielder Cesc Fabregas back for this match.
TEAM NEWS, INJURY UPDATES, AND SUSPENSIONS
Diego Costa will be serving the last of his three-match ban, and thus will be sitting out of this match, which means Loic Remy is expected to lead the attack. Jose Mourinho confirmed ahead of the match that Cesc Fabregas will be back against Everton after he recovered from a hamstring injury, which means Ramires may have to be content with a place on the bench. Filipe Luis is still out with a calf strain, so Cesar Azpilicueta will play at left-back. The hero Villa Park, Branislav Ivanovic will be at right-back while Kurt Zouma may start beside John Terry to deal with the strength of Lukaku. Mourinho may hand Juan Cuadrado a start in front of the home crowd.
Leighton Baines and Steven Naismith will undergo late fitness tests on Wednesday while Muhamed Besic and Leon Osman could miss out. Pienaar remains a long-term absentee while this match comes a bit too soon for Alan McGeady and goalkeeper Tim Howard. Robles will start between the posts while Brian Oviedo will play at left-back in place of Baines. John Stones and Phil Jagielka will play at centre-half with Seamus Coleman at right back. Former Blue Romelu Lukaku will lead the attack supported by Kevin Mirallas, with Gareth Barry and James McCarthy in midfield.
After the shocking loss at the hands of League One side Bradford City in the FA Cup, Chelsea have remained unbeaten, which included victories against Liverpool and Aston Villa and a draw against Manchester City. Chelsea have also established a 7-point lead at the top of the table over the defending champions. Although Jose Mourinho stated that the lead means nothing at this stage of the season, one can not ignore the fact that Chelsea are odds on favourites to land the Premier League title. Even without Costa and Fabregas, Chelsea have fared quite well in their last two matches, and once they are back, Chelsea will only get better.
Everton sit 12th in the league table, and Roberto Martinez’s men have not been able to reproduce the form they showed last season. Everton have drawn 3 of their last four matches including the Merseyside derby, where they were held to a goalless draw at home by Liverpool. In fact, Everton have won only one of their last eight matches. Roberto Martinez knows that failing to improve their form could draw them into an unwanted relegation battle. The last time they faced Chelsea, they were thrashed 6-3 at the Goodison Park, and Martinez would hope for a better showing from his players this time round.
Steven Naismith has scored in 3 of his last four league appearances against Chelsea. Cesc Fabregas made his Premier League debut against Everton in 2004.
REVERSE FIXTURE THIS SEASON
Everton 3-6 Chelsea 30/08/2014
LAST 5 PREMIER LEAGUE MEETINGS
Everton 3-6 Chelsea 30/08/2014
Chelsea 1-0 Everton 22/02/2014
Everton 1-0 Chelsea 14/09/2013
Chelsea 2-1 Everton 19/05/2013
Everton 1-2 Chelsea 30/12/2012
PREDICTED STARTING LINE UPS
Chelsea: Courtois (GK), Ivanovic, Zouma, Terry, Azpilicueta, Matic, Fabregas, Hazard, Oscar, Cuadrado, Remy
Everton: Robles (GK), Oviedo, Jagielka, Stones, Coleman, Barry, McCarthy, Barkley, Mirallas, Naismith, Lukaku
Chelsea 1-0 Everton
Time: 1945 GMT / 0115 IST
Venue: Stamford Bridge
Referee: Jonathan Moss
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Edited By: Vikram Vadiganeni