EPL Match Preview: Everton vs Chelsea

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Everton vs Chelsea
Everton vs Chelsea

One of the most intriguing fixtures on the opening weekend of the 2022-23 Premier League campaign will take place at Goodison Park on Saturday, as Everton welcome Chelsea in the late start.

The Toffees finished down in 16th position last season, only narrowly avoiding relegation to the Championship, while Chelsea were third, five points clear of fifth-place Arsenal in the battle for the Champions League spots.

Everton narrowly escaped relegation last term, earning themselves a season-opener against Chelsea on Saturday evening.

The Toffees, spearheaded by Chelsea’s all-time leading scorer Frank Lampard, collected a crucial three points in this fixture last May. Thomas Tuchel’s Blues waded through plumes of smoke that day at Goodison Park and spent much of the campaign’s conclusion stumbling through the fog of uncertainty sparked by the club’s high-profile sale.

After neither side quite enjoyed the summer reset they both envisaged, here’s everything you need to know about their bout this weekend.

Everton team news

Dominic Calvert-Lewin assumed even greater importance following the summer departure of Richarlison – the match winner against Chelsea last season. However, Everton’s number nine has been ruled out of the first game with a ‘freak injury’. Lampard was deliberately vague as provided no further time scale.

Alongside Calvert-Lewin, Salomon Rondon is Everton’s only other senior striker but the Venezuelan is still suspended following a reckless red card against Brentford in May.

Seamus Coleman has been recovering from a groin injury throughout the summer, opening a spot in defence for Nathan Patterson. Yerry Mina and Tom Davies are also doubts while nursing knocks.

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Back-up goalkeeper Asmir Begovic twisted his wrist during training and is set to be on the sidelines with Andros Townsend, whose knee injury may keep him out for as long as eight months.

Chelsea team news

The Chelsea hierarchy may not have stocked Tuchel with all the recruits he desires quite yet, but the vast majority of the players at his disposal are expected to be fit for the trip to Merseyside.

Armando Broja emerged from an awkward fall during training unscathed. Ross Barkley may well be available against his former side after Tuchel described his hamstring problem as “more of a discomfort than an injury.”

However, Timo Werner is a doubt with a more serious hamstring issue.

As for Chelsea, there is likely to be a debut at the back for Koulibaly, while Sterling could play in a front three with England teammate Mason Mount and Kai Havertz

What the mangers said

Everton manager Frank Lampard: “It’s nice to have a relative clean slate at the start of the season – I never felt that we had that in my period at the Club. That is important, because it should hopefully give us a fresh idea and feeling of confidence.

“There are still things I want us to do going forward to try to make us play more the way I want us to play – to be more consistent in what we can deliver. That will be a mixture of work [on the training pitch] and the players we can hopefully strengthen the squad with.

We are working on and off the pitch and trying to improve the Club in any way possible. There are a lot of good people at the Club that are really working in a good direction. We have to get the culture right and move forward. We have to keep this unified feeling we have.

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“I was proud to be part of it in the last weeks of last season – when Everton was a club from top to bottom [that was together], starting with every fan who stood outside the ground to welcome the team two hours before our games. That [unity] is such an important part.

“We must work on every side of our game to be sure that we are not in a situation like we were in last season

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel:

““We are some steps further. It was absolutely necessary. Maybe it was also necessary to lose that game like we lost it against Arsenal, against a big rival in the league who is trying to take our place. Maybe it was a wake-up call for everybody. Since then we have stepped up.

As always, the last week before the season is always where you feel a new focus, new excitement, new level of focus in training. Legs are fresh now, fresher than when we trained in Florida. Still, we are not where we can be but let’s see, we feel ready and competitive for tomorrow.

“A very good training week so far, the atmosphere is back to where it was before the Arsenal game like in the first weeks of preseason. Then we lost the energy towards the Arsenal game. After that we needed to digest but last week is good, we feel ready for tomorrow. This is very important to not lose focus and take the first week step by step. We took the possibility to prepare the whole week for Saturday, nothing else. This is where we are.”

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Key stats
Everton have won each of their previous four Premier League home games against Chelsea. It is their best run in this league fixture since winning seven on the bounce between 1923 and 1935.

Chelsea have won only three of their last 14 Premier League visits to Goodison Park (D2, L9).

Everton are unbeaten in their opening Premier League match in the last 10 seasons (W4, D6), the longest ongoing run in the top flight.

Chelsea conceded 11 Premier League away goals last season, a joint-league low alongside Manchester City.

Chelsea were top of the Premier League table after 14 matches of last season, one point ahead of Manchester City and two points clear of Liverpool. The Blues went on to finish third, 19 points behind the Citizens and 18 points adrift of the Reds

Predicted lineups

Everton predicted lineup (3-4-3):

Pickford; Godfrey, Tarkowski, Keane; Patterson, Doucoure, Iwobi, Mykolenko; Gordon, Gray, McNeil

 

Chelsea predicted Lineup (3-4-2-1):

Mendy; Azpilicueta, Silva, Koulibaly; James, Kante, Kovacic, Chilwell; Mount, Sterling; Havertz

By: Salisu C. Zuberu

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