Saturday 5th November 17:30 GMT
Were Chelsea to win this tie, they would sit top of the league, if only for a brief period of time. Not bad for a manager and a team who, only a month ago, seemed to be all over the place with many a rumour swirling around the place that Antonio Conte might be for the sack. What a difference a few games make. Four league wins from four with no goals conceded after the switch to a three man defence speaks volumes in that regard.
Getting back on track?
Everton are another team who look like they might be turning things around. Sitting in 6th place, two spots and four points behind Chelsea suggests things have been going well of late for the Toffees but their defeat of West Ham last week was their first league win in six matches. After a blistering beginning to the season, the wheels came off in marked fashion before a turnaround in form was spotted in their 1-1 draw away to Manchester City. Granted, they were beaten by Burnley in their next game but that was a bit of a freakish result and they took three points from the aforementioned London side in the following game.
Old flame out for revenge
Everton will be looking to Romelu Lukaku for inspiration in front of goal. The old Chelsea man will be looking to put one over on his former club and if his team mates can play effectively when on the break, getting the ball into the feet of Lukaku will be a big plus. The Belgian striker scored his 100th league goal last weekend at the ripe old age of 23. Still the focus of criticism from some quarters for perceived weaknesses, a ton of BPL goals whilst hovering betwixt early and mid twenties kind of speaks for itself.
More of the goals, less of the messin’
In the home corner, Chelsea can also boast of a lethal marksman in the shape of a rejuvenated Diego Costa. He looks a changed player from this time last year when he was all sulk and cards with few goals in between. This season, he has lost the pointless aggression and needle, focusing instead on harnessing his predatory strengths in front of goal and what a bonus that has been for both him and his team as his eight goals scored will attest.
Testing yourself against the best
Being a Dutchman and having successfully played for Barcelona, it is safe to say that Ronald Koeman enjoys a tactical puzzler. Successfully working out how to beat a team with the resources at your disposal is one of the most fundamental aspects of management but the degree to which this is done varies wildly between managers. Koeman will be taking on a master in this regard in the form of Conte and will be hoping to display his own chops in this regard.
For what it’s worth, this column reckons that Chelsea look like a team who can seriously challenge for the league. The manner in which they are set up doesn’t betray any obvious signs of weakness and their manager is clearly happy with how quickly they have taken to his new direction. Injuries and loss of form to key players are always concerns but if they can keep up this form, they will be there or thereabouts come the end of the season.
This column wasn’t surprised to see the bookies making Chelsea strong favourites to win but we were slightly taken aback by the long price for an Everton win. There’s more than one outfit offering 6/1 for the Toffees to come out on top in this tie. Now, we think that Chelsea will do enough to get all three points and a price of 4/7 from BetVictor for that result is the best price to be found at the moment but if any of the words above have given you a moment’s pause, do yourself a favour and see what else is out there.