Chelsea V Everton Preview: Time to buck the trend!

Who can forget the last time we played Everton . Under much different circumstances and compared to events of the last 10 days, much happie...

Who can forget the last time we played Everton. Under much different circumstances and compared to events of the last 10 days, much happier times. Today is a chance for Chelsea to get their form back on track after a nightmare 10 days with losing on pens to Blackburn, losing away at City and then drawing at home to APOEL. As a Chelsea fan, for what we have become used to in recent years and looking at the quality of our squad, these should have been three victories we all have been watching and reading about. But, true Chelsea fans and lifelong fans know, Chelsea being Chelsea it had to happen sooner rather than later!

So with a busy Christmas period around the corner and a what looks on paper a run of games where we can stamp our authority on the Premier League once more its important that this starts today at Stamford Bridge against an Everton side who come here weakened with a whole host of injuries. Today missing from their first team will be: Tim Cahill is suspended; Joseph Yobo, Mikel Arteta, Phil Neville, Leon Osman, Phil Jagielka, James Vaughan and Victor Anichebe are injured. Sylvain Distin and Dan Gosling are doubts but former Atlético Madrid defender John Heitinga is available again.

The two biggest names missing will be Cahill and Arteta for the Toffee's and I believe David Moyes will look to do an APOEL and sit back, defend well and look to hit us on the break. But with Cahill missing it will be interesting to see if he plays Jo up front on his own or if he uses Saha or Yakubu next to him. If they go with one up front then Fellaini will more than likely be the man to get up and support the front man. But if they go with just the one up, it can also play into our hands. This will allow the already named and confirmed starters for today, Branislav Ivanovic and Ashley Cole to get forward.

But, I really think in games at the Bridge (where we haven't conceded a goal since the opening day of the season in the League) we should focus on our game today than the opposition. Ancelotti has already named eight starters to the game today with JT and Riccy lining up in front of Petr Cech and next to Ivanovic and Ashley Cole. Mikel, Ballack and Frank Lampard are confirmed with just the one other in midfield and the front two to be confirmed.

We also have our own players out or not in contention today and they are: Alex, Kalou, Sturridge, Deco, Essien and Jose Bosingwa. So it leaves Ancelotti with a choice between Joe Cole, Malouda and Kakuta for the remaining midfield place. If he plays Malouda then Lampard will push forward and to me he is better playing slightly deeper. BUT, Malouda gives us natural width and balance down the left and has become (albeit a couple of mistakes against APOEL in the second half) one of our most consistant performers. But then again you have Joe Cole who fits naturally in behind the front two. If he plays, Lampard will play square of Ballack with Joe in front, which suits Lampard more. I can't see Kakuta starting today.

Ancelotti has to go with Drogba and Anelka today. Didier was frustrated as we all could see on the pitch in the second half the other night and will look to put that right today. Anelka will be fresh after being rested the other night so it has to be those two today. Borini will more than likely be on the bench.

Before todays game Carlo Ancelotti was asked about the game midweek against APOEL and todays game and he said:

'We didn't do a good second-half and I spoke with my players about this, nothing else. I don't need with these players to use the whip, I don't like to shout because when someone shouts at me, I don't listen. I prefer to speak. I want give respect and have respect from my players. I know very well their professionalism but we have to be every game concentrated and play with intensity, also when the result is not important like against APOEL.

We need to maintain very well our identity, and that is to help each other on the pitch and work with intensity. For this I was unhappy after the game but I saw a very good reaction in these last two days training and I think tomorrow we will do a strong match for 90 minutes.'

When asked about the game today and coming up against a weakened Everton side he said:

"Everton have had a lot of problems with injuries and for this reason they haven't had a very good season to this moment, But they have very good players, also good young players and a very good coach. They will try to play counter attack but first they will defend, so we have to play quickly and have to put pressure on to win this game. It is all in our hands." (quotes taken from

You have to say first of all he is spot on about playing with itensity. In recent games how many times have we all been sitting there thinking "we haven't even got started yet?" or " we're playing in second gear, come on Chelsea step it up!" and its been frustrating. We see our level of performance against the Arsenal and how we dominated them and imposed our football on them, to watching our performance against City and APOEL and you sit and wonder why, what's happened?

We need to come out and get on the ball early doors, get them on the back foot and play our game. Ancelotti's second important point was again spot on about playing quickly. The slow continental laboured approach works in some games in the Champions League, but not in the Premier League. Keeping possession of the ball is important, but the problem we have had in recent weeks is getting to the final third of the pitch and either holding up the ball for too long or lacking that killer pass.

We need to put this right and it will be difficult against a workman like, well-organised Everton side who will look to give little away and with Hibbert playing at centre half once more who did well for the majority of the game against Spurs last week, he will look to be biting into tackles in and around the box.

I think as much as Everton will come and set up to defend and stifle our play with a five man midfield, with just one up front to start with will play into our hands and if they don't keep Ivanovic and Cole quiet down the wings it could be a long day for the Toffee's. We just need to make sure that we keep organised ourselves if they do go a goal down as Saha / Yakubu will come on to chase the game and this is where the game will become stretched and open up.

I maybe biased, but I think with all the problems Everton have with injuries, with our injuries/players missing and the quality we can bring into replace them, we will be too strong today. Right now I will take a 1-0 but if we score early then it could be 2 or 3 today.

Prediction : Chelsea 2-0 Everton (Drogba, Lampard).

(Remember you can watch the game online here and bet on the game here)


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