Preview: Everton v Chelsea

Everton Chelsea

Everton will be the latest team attempting to stop Chelsea’s march to the Premier League title when they lock horns at Goodison Park on Sunday.

Premier League
30 April 2017
Kickoff: 15:05
Venue: Goodison Park

Referee: J. Moss
Assistants: E. Smart, A. Halliday
Fourth official: M. Atkinson

Head-to-head summary:

Everton 175 54 52 69
Chelsea 175 69 52 54

Previous encounter:

Chelsea 5-0 Everton (05/11/2016) Premier League

Chelsea goalscorers: E. Hazard (19′, 56′), M. Alonso (20′), D. Costa (42′), Pedro (65′)

Players to watch:

The Toffees’ European challenge has been spearheaded by Romelu Lukaku, who leads the Premier League scoring charts with 24 goals – four more than Tottenham striker Harry Kane in second place. The Belgium international is in a rich vein of form having scored eight goals in his last 10 games, with braces against Hull and Leicester.

Ross Barkley is another player with match-winning ability, but the midfielder can be equally frustrating when he doesn’t deliver on his huge potential. The 23-year-old has contributed four league goals for Ronald Koeman’s side and provided eight assists.

Smiles, shooting and scoring. Pre-@chelseafc training. #EFC #EvertonFC #COYB #Blues

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The Blues’ bid for a second league title in three years is largely down to the efforts Diego Costa and Eden Hazard, who between them have combined for 34 goals in the top flight this term. Costa is third in the scoring charts with 19 goals, while Hazard sits eighth with 15.

Spain international Costa ended a five-match goal drought in midweek with a brace to help Antonio Conte’s league leaders to a 4-2 win over Southampton, as well as recording his sixth assist for the campaign.

Team form and manager quotes:

The Merseysiders enter Sunday’s clash on the back of a four-game unbeaten run in the league, although they have been inconsistent over the last three months after failing to win more than two games on the trot.

A goalless draw at West Ham last weekend left the Toffees sitting comfortably in seventh spot, 14 points clear of West Brom in eighth and six adrift of the top five and European football.

Koeman has vowed there would be no repeat of the result in the reverse fixture when his team suffered their heaviest defeat of the season at Stamford Bridge, as they chase a ninth straight victory at home.

Commenting on the drubbing in November, the Dutchman said: “That was maybe one of Chelsea’s strongest performances and we were poor in all the aspects of football.

“But that’s football and of course it will be different this Sunday. We’d like to win for ourselves, and for the fans. If that means the title race is more wide open, then that’s nice for the Premier League but that is not the reason why we would like to beat Chelsea.

“We’d like to beat them to show that we are strong – and strong at a home – and maybe if we get the three points on Sunday that will give us a chance to get sixth or maybe even fifth position in the table.”

Chelsea, meanwhile, got their title charge back on track in midweek with a good win over the Saints, having lost 2-0 to Manchester United prior to that which let Tottenham back in the race for league honours – two top two are separated by four points with five matches remaining.

Everton pose the biggest threat to the west Londoners in the run-in, and Conte is preparing his players for a tough test on Merseyside.

“Everton are a really good team, a strong team with great players in their squad, good quality. A physical team also,” the Italian told the press.

“They have a good manager and play exciting football. For sure it will be a really tough game for us but at the end of the season, I think every game becomes tough for many different reasons.

“When they play at home they are strong. For us it is very important to look at ourselves, to prepare very well for this type of game.”

Team news:

The hosts welcome back on-loan Hammers striker Enner Valencia, who was ineligible to face his parent club last time out.

But they remain without a host of key players through injury, including Yannick Bolasie, Seamus Coleman, James McCarthy and Muhamed Besic.

Visiting boss Conte has a fully-fit squad to choose from.