Everton v Chelsea

Right now Everton fans must believe themselves to be in the midst of a bad dream; five months ago their team finished fourth in the Premiership and qualified for the Champions League (at the expense of their arch-rivals who somehow managed to wrangle in anyway). Just eight games of a new season later and their team is out of Europe (Champions League and UEFA Cup) and struggling at the foot of the table having lost seven games.

Some would say they’re just the type of team you want to play when seeking a tenth straight Premiership victory, but not Jose Mourinho.

“Their position surprises and scares me. We have to look at them as the team they are not look at the position they are in at the moment,” he said earlier this week.

“If we remember the team they were and the good team they will be again, normally we will go there and win. If we look at them as a team with one goal and lots of defeats, then we will have a big surprise.

“I don’t forget that last season they gave us two very good games and I think their squad is better than last season.”

At the risk of making myself look a tad silly, I have to disagree with the great man on this occasion. I see the Toffees as a club in crisis; they’ve lost six consecutive games and scored one goal this season, and from what I’ve seen of them they haven’t looked like scoring more. There seems to be a general malaise running through the team.

Compare that with Chelsea’s form this season — nine games, nine wins, twenty-three goals scored (nine in the last two games) — and you couldn’t have a bigger mismatch. Of course Everton could beat us — the Premiership never fails to surprise on occasions; look at Wigan — but I just cannot see it happening today.

Team news is that Didier Drogba will be available after coming off injured at half-time against Real Betis. Arjen Robben may also be available after recovering from a tight hamstring.

Petr Cech will also return to the starting eleven after being rested against Betis.

Predicition: Everton lost the corresponding fixture last season after the over-rated James Beattie was sent off in the opening minutes for headbutting William Gallas from behind. Chelsea only managed to score one goal that day but this time around it should be different. The Toffees have lost nine of their last ten Premiership games and don’t look like scoring. They are 9/1 with the bookies to record a home victory today. The last time they beat the Blues at home was November 2000. A comfortable 0-3.

Related links:

Everton 1 – 1 Chelsea · Update

Football has a habit of making you look foolish. Everton certainly didn’t play like a bottom of the table team… Jose Mourinho’s probably correct when he says that they’ll finish mid-table this season.

Still, we didn’t lose and our unbeaten run in the Premiership now stands at 39 games.

See Lampard’s wonder strike and Drogba’s ‘offside’ goal here (downloadable zip files).

Match reports: BBC Sport; Sky Sports; ESPNSoccernet; Sporting Life; Official Chelsea FC Website; The Times; The Independent; The Guardian; Daily Telegraph.

Related links: