Chelsea cannot afford any more errors if they are to make the top four. George Pitts looks at the betting for their trip to Everton.
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Everton v Chelsea (1630 kick-off, Sky Sports Premier League)
A Premier League Super Sunday clash between two sides under achieving in the table and it has plenty of potential.
Marco Silva's Everton (11th) surrendered a 2-0 lead at Newcastle last week to lose 3-2 and extend their run to just one win in their last six after their seventh defeat of the calendar year.
Questions have been raised over Silva's future several times in the last few months and he is one of the favourites in the 'next Premier League manager to leave' market with Sky Bet.
Another manager up there in the betting is Chelsea's Maurizio Sarri, whose position was probably eased slightly in midweek as they won 5-0 (8-0 on aggregate) at Dynamo Kiev to reach the quarter-finals of the Europa League, where they have been drawn with Slavia Prague.
Reaching this stage of the European competition, as well as the final of the Carabao Cup, is not a bad first season at a club but it has been their league form which lets them down.
The Italian started well and the Blues (6th) were tipped as title challengers but an inconsistent winter run has seen them drop down and left them fighting for a place in the top four.
They are, though, on a seven-match unbeaten run in all competitions (the Cup final defeat was on penalties) and a point behind Arsenal in fourth, so few slip-ups can be afforded in this one.
Prediction: Everton 1-2 Chelsea (Sky Bet odds: 8/1)
There was a temptation to back the Toffees to make full use of their home advantage and get a point from this. But it is crunch time, Everton are inconsistent at Goodison and Chelsea cannot afford to slip up here. They snatched a late draw at home to an organised Wolves side last week and they should just edge this one.
Best bet: Over 10.5 total corners at 7/5
Two sides with high corner counts this term, chances should be aplenty at both ends and the price on 11 or more corners makes it worth a small play. Chelsea have taken 161 corners this season (the sixth most in the league) while Everton have taken two less (the eighth-most). Everton average 12 shots a game, Chelsea 16, so expect plenty of goal mouth action and set pieces could be crucial in deciding the outcome of the game. Sarri's side had 13 corners against Wolves last weekend, so if Everton follow a similar plan and keep them out for long periods then the Londoners could keep knocking.
Goals/Stats: Ross Barkley 1+ shots on target at 11/8
Similar to our recommendation for Fulham v Liverpool, Barkley should come up against his former club and will be keen to put in a good performance. With Willian and Mateo Kovacic playing in Kiev and Barkley rested, the England man is likely to get the nod for his first appearance at Goodison Park since leaving in January 2018. The 25-year-old has been impressive at times under Sarri this term, scoring five and assisting another five in all competitions. He can be backed at 4/1 to score anytime, but the price on him to get a shot on target is more appealing considering what this game will mean to the boyhood Toffee. He has averaged nearly two shots per game in all competitions for the Blues this term and had two efforts in an eight-minute cameo as sub in the reverse fixture and will be eager to make a statement against his former employers. He is quite a temperamental player and the 5/1 on him to be carded is also worth considering, but we are going with shots.
- Everton are winless in their last six Premier League meetings with Chelsea (D3 L3), failing to score in each of the last five. They last failed to score in six consecutive league games against an opponent vs Southampton between 1972 and 1979 (a run of seven).
- Chelsea are unbeaten in two away Premier League visits to Everton (W1 D1); they haven’t managed three without defeat since a run of eight between 2001 and 2008.
- The last two Premier League meetings between Everton and Chelsea have finished 0-0. Only four fixtures in the competition’s history have finished goalless in three consecutive games (Arsenal vs QPR, Aston Villa vs Man Utd, Charlton vs Middlesbrough and Coventry vs Sheffield Wednesday).
- Everton have won just one of their last eight Premier League home games (D3 L4), while the Toffees haven’t beaten a ‘big six’ side in the league since January 2017 (4-0 v Man City), drawing seven and losing 18 since.
- Chelsea have lost three of their last seven Premier League games (W3 D1), as many as they had in their first 22 this season (W14 D5 L3).
- Everton’s last seven Premier League goals at Goodison Park have been scored by different players.
- Marco Silva has taken just three points in his last 12 Premier League games against the ‘big six’ (W0 D3 L9) since a 2-1 win with Watford against Arsenal in October 2017.
- Eden Hazard has been directly involved in 48% of Chelsea’s 50 Premier League goals this season (13 goals, 11 assists), the highest ratio in the division. The highest percentage of goals a Chelsea player has been involved in over a full Premier League season is 47%, by Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (scored or assisted 32 of Chelsea’s 68 goals).
- At no ground has Chelsea’s Eden Hazard played more Premier League games without scoring than he has at Goodison Park (6, level with Selhurst Park).
- Everton’s Theo Walcott has scored six goals in all competitions against Chelsea, netting at least once in all four grounds he’s faced them in (Prinicipality Stadium, Wembley Stadium, Emirates Stadium and Stamford Bridge). If he plays, this will be his first match against them at Goodison Park.
Odds correct as of 1430 GMT on 15/03/19