Event: English Premier League
Date: Sunday, 30th April 2017
Kick Off: 2:05pm (Nigerian time)
Venue: Goodison Park, Merseyside, England
Today is a very crucial day in the title race. Here, Antonio Conte’s troops who are four points clear face what appears to be arguably their toughest game of the run-in at Goodison Park and Conte is not underestimating the threat the Toffees pose. The Blues play the first installment of Super Sunday before Premier League title rivals Tottenham take on north London rivals Arsenal at White Hart Lane.
Everton may be quite mediocre on the road but they revel in the comforts of home, winning their last eight, with Romelu Lukaku scoring 14 goals in his last nine Goodison appearances. Chelsea’s title rivals, Tottenham, will definitely crave a ninth straight win for Ronald Koeman’s team ahead of the north London derby (against Arsenal) which comes moments after this one. But another wild Conte celebration would be more than justified should Chelsea prevail. Everton have Enner Valencia available after the striker was ineligible to face parent club West Ham last week.
Aside the following injuries and fitness doubts, the rest of the Everton squad are fit and ready to go:
Injuries: McCarthy (hamstring, 13 May), Funes Mori (knee, Aug), Bolasie (knee, Nov), Coleman (broken leg, unknown)
Doubtful: Besic (knee), Lennon (knock)
On Chelsea’s part, Conte has a full squad to pick from for the trip to the Super Sunday clash. He is expected to continue with his tried and tested regulars as his side edge ever close to the Premier League title, and that means Hazard and Costa look set to start.
KEY STATISTICS TO BEAR IN MIND AS THE COUNTDOWN TICKS AWAY
-Everton have won five of their last seven Premier League games against Chelsea at Goodison Park (L2), two more than they recorded in their previous 17 in the competition.
-Only against Tottenham (92) have Chelsea scored more Premier League goals than versus Everton (80).
-Diego Costa has been directly involved in six goals in four Premier League appearances against Everton (four goals, two assists).
-Following his midweek brace against Southampton, Diego Costa now has 19 Premier League goals in 2016-17. Without these goals, Chelsea would be 15 points worse off than they are and no player has seen their goals win more points for their side than Costa this season.
-Cesc Fabregas has had a hand in eight goals in his last seven games against the Toffees in the top-flight (four goals, four assists).
-Romelu Lukaku has failed to score in all five of his previous outings against his former club Chelsea in the Premier League, attempting 12 shots (incl. blocks) in the process.
-Overall during his Premier League career, Romelu Lukaku has scored against 23 of the 29 different teams he’s faced in the competition. This season alone he’s scored against 13 different teams in the Premier League.
-Lukaku has scored in all nine of Everton’s competitive home matches in 2017 so far (14 goals). The only player to go on a longer streak of scoring in consecutive home matches for Everton is Dixie Dean; who scored in 12 successive home games for the Toffees between October 1930 and February 1931.
-Everton are currently enjoying an eight-game winning run at home – their longest such streak in the Premier League. They last had a longer run in the top flight between December 1986 and April 1987 (10 wins).
-Chelsea have won 78 points from their 33 Premier League games so far. This is the eighth occasion that a side has won 78+ points from 33 games in the competition and half of those have been by Chelsea (Chelsea – four times, Manchester United – three times, Arsenal – once).
-Should Chelsea win their remaining five Premier League matches of the season, they will finish the campaign on 93 points. This would be the second-best points tally by a side in a Premier League season, after Chelsea in 2004-05 (95).
Antonio Conte (Chelsea): “Everton are a really good team, a strong team with great players in their squad, good quality. A physical team also.
“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.”
Ronald Koeman (Everton): “Maybe we need to change our mentality a bit because I felt a bit less intensity in the game last week, maybe a bit less motivation.
“It is always difficult if you have already the seventh position in the pocket and maybe they get a little bit more holiday or end-of-season feeling.
“That is what I don’t like. We like to keep momentum at home, we are strong at home and we know what we need (to do) to face the best team of the Premier League.”
FORM GUIDE (all competitions, most recent first)
VERDICT: As usual, it is always a feisty engagement between both sides and this is not gonna be an exception. Everton have been imperious at home in recent times while Chelsea, are desperate to cling on to the top of the table and I guess they want this more than the Toffees. Won’t be surprised if they leave here with all three points. However, I see goals in this and Chelsea not losing at the same time.
RECOMMENDED BETS: GG & 2.5 or GG & X2 or X2