Predicted Chelsea XI against Everton
Chelsea will be looking to strengthen their grip on the Premier League as they prepare to welcome Everton to Stamford Bridge. After opening up a seven-point gap at the top with second place Manchester City during the weekend, the Blues will be eager to push on with the advantage.
The two teams played out a goal fest earlier this season with Chelsea coming out on top 3-6 at Goodison Park. Everton will be heading to West London after failing to convert draws into wins in three of their last four matches, including the Merseyside derby.
Chelsea will be missing star striker Diego Costa, who will be serving the last game of his three-match ban after receiving a red card against Liverpool for a stomp on Emre Can. Cesc Fabregas is set to return to the first eleven after recovering from a niggling hamstring injury which kept the Spaniard out for the last two games. Filipe Luis is in contention after nursing his calf injury. John Obi Mikel remains the only one out with injury.
Goalkeeper: Thibaut Courtois is expected to keep his position between the sticks. The Belgian has been the undisputed number one despite Petr Cech’s availability on the bench.
Defence: Ivanovic is the first choice right-back for the leaders and is expected to keep his place. John Terry is the team’s captain and will be partnered at centre back by Gary Cahill, who is fit to play after recovering from a knock to his knees. Cesar Azpilicueta is set to start as left back despite Filipe Luis’ possible fitness.
Central Midfield: Nemanja Matic must be the first name in Mourinho’s team sheet this season and should start. Cesc Fabregas has excelled at his deep playmaking role at Chelsea and Mourinho more or less confirmed the Spaniard will get a start. Fabregas coming back will mean Ramires will miss out.
Attacking Midfield: Mourinho might be tempted to start new signing Juan Cuadrado in place of Willian, but the Brazilian’s high work rate and experience of the English game might be preferred to curb the threat from Leighton Baines (if he is available). Eden Hazard has been Chelsea’s main attacking threat this season and with Costa out, Mourinho will not risk leaving the Belgian on the bench. Oscar has been in brilliant form off late and deserves a place just behind the striker.
Striker: With Drogba struggling against Aston Villa, the Chelsea boss will most possibly choose to start Loic Remy as the lone striker. Remy’s pace should be more effective against the Everton defence.