PMB: Everton v Chelsea - matchday

The final part of the Pre-Match Briefing gets you ready for today's game...

• Maurizio Sarri made seven changes in Ukraine from the team that drew with Wolves. Gonzalo Higuain stayed behind to recover from illness ahead of this trip and regulars such as Eden Hazard, David Luiz, Ross Barkley and Emerson were not called upon in the brilliant 5-0 victory. The imposing and effective Ruben Loftus-Cheek played his first full 90 minutes since December and can hopefully put his back problems behind him.

• The England midfielder’s ability to break through the lines could be important on Sunday. The reverse fixture at the Bridge finished 0-0 despite four shots on target from the hosts, who dominated possession but saw promising attacks end five times through the raising of an offside flag. Everton may use the same stifling tactics on Jorginho as that day, with Gylfi Sigurdsson, Richarlison, Andre Gomes and Idrissa Gueye virtually boxing-in the Londoners’ midfield instigator.

• Chelsea have attempted the second highest number of shots in this season’s Premier League, but if you sensed a lot of them have been blocked you would be right. In fact, the Blues are on course to top 200 blocked shots for the first time since the 207 in 2009/10 – when 100 goals were racked up too. In the intervening seasons the number has varied between 149 (2014/15) and 184 (2012/13). So far in the current campaign, Eden Hazard has seen 30 strikes thwarted, Willian 18, Mateo Kovacic 13, Marcos Alonso and Ross Barkley 12, and N’Golo Kante 11.  


• Marco Silva has called for the same intensity from Everton’s players and supporters as the Merseyside derby, their last home game. He has indicated his team will defend deep and attempt to counter-attack with pace and energy. Bernard has been favoured as a starter over Richarlison, but Silva selected both wingers to supporter the willingness of Dominic Calvert-Lewin last weekend. He also has set-play specialist Gylfi Sigurdsson.

• The Toffees will be deprived of some of their aerial prowess and defensive cover as Kurt Zouma is ineligible under the regulations of his loan from Chelsea. The dynamic centre-back has been virtually ever-present this season and Yerry Mina, who made his debut in the 0-0 at the Bridge, is likely to step in today as Phil Jagielka is sidelined. Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman have both been pronounced fit.

• The Everton manager’s late tactical substitution of Richarlison for Mina (possibly mindful he will be needed this weekend) and change to a back three backfired against Newcastle. The Toffees slipped from 2-1 up to a 2-3 loss within 10 minutes of the switch, with Jordan Pickford arguably fortunate not to see red and criticised for his display.

Maurizio Sarri's pre-match quotes

‘Gonazlo Higuain had a strong stomach ache with fever during the week. It’s not a serious problem. I think he will be able to play, but I don’t know in what condition.

‘We have to play a very important match, and a very difficult match. In my opinion after the big six Everton are the best team in the league in technical quality.’

Everton boss Marco Silva's pre-match quotes

‘We have to be solid because we know against Chelsea they are really strong with that frontline and the players they have in the middle and the individual quality they have.

‘You are here playing at Goodison and if you have achieved a good result against them away, you have confidence you can achieve maybe better at home with our fans, with the atmosphere we expect at Goodison again.’

Matchday weather outlook

There could be rain and there will definitely be wind during this afternoon’s game in the North-West.


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