The second of our double-header against Merseyside opposition in the Premier League awaits. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton look at the prospects for repeating Thursday’s good result at Anfield when we host the Toffees at Stamford Bridge…
On Monday, when fourth-placed Chelsea take on Everton, fifth at the start of the weekend, it will be a year ago to the day that a full Stamford Bridge cheered the hosts to a 4-0 victory in the same fixture.
The Blues have returned from the last two away trips with potentially crucial victories that would have lived long in the memory of all those present in different times. Now comes another Premier League six-pointer on home ground, still behind closed doors.
The Londoners have won 10 of the past 14 top-flight fixtures played on Mondays and so far this campaign are unbeaten in four matches played on this day of the week.
Beat the teams around you, the old adage suggests, and at Liverpool Chelsea dented the chances of a rival for a Champions League place while maintaining the club’s recent tradition of beating the defending champions at least once, starting with Leicester in 2016/17.
Stamford Bridge’s first taste of spring offers the chance to steal a march on another contender for a top-four finish ahead of a rare clear midweek.
Chelsea are hoping to extend our unbeaten home Premier League run against Everton to 26 matches.
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Chelsea team news
Thomas Tuchel says he already feels a big part of a great club and the feeling is mutual after a brilliant win on the home soil of a great rival on Thursday. The Bavarian, justly nominated for manager of the month, started by building a tighter defensive structure. Over the past eight league games only Manchester City have collected more points but even they cannot boast Chelsea’s record of just two conceded in that time.
On top of Mason Mount’s fabulous winner there were signs that the front line is starting to create good chances again too. All five of Mount’s Premier League goals this season have come away from home; three of them were in the past five matches.
Each has been meaningful: he notched the Blues’ first in the comeback at West Brom, the opener against the Sheffield United, the equaliser at Southampton and winners at Fulham and now Anfield. He also opened the scoring in the rout of the Toffees this time last season.
Luckless Timo Werner’s selfless run crucially decoyed Thiago Alcantara, who otherwise might have blocked Mount’s strike, and the Stuttgarter went agonisingly close on two or three other occasions against the Reds’ high defensive line. Carlo Ancelotti is unlikely to allow the same acreage at the Bridge, it has to be said.
There was also more of the bravery and progression in passing that the new head coach demands. Some of the Blues’ one-touch interplay through Liverpool’s pressing left the hosts chasing ghosts while Jorginho and N’Golo Kante (‘N’Golinho’ as former Blue Cesc Fabregas dubbed him on Thursday) screened the back three and initiated quick attacks whenever possible.
The whole team was focused for 90 minutes, with impressive game-management towards the close. As a result, Edouard Mendy is now the only top-flight keeper with more clean sheets in Premier League matches than not. It helps when your defence only allows one shot on target, or even none, as has been the case in five of the 10 games under Tuchel, including Thursday’s.
The Toffees offer a different set of threats and opportunities to their Mersey neighbours.
Carlo Ancelotti has overseen Everton’s best win percentage since Howard Kendall in the 1980s and nine of their 14 victories this season have come on the road.
They are aggressive and very strong on attacking set-plays and with a recent heavy workload, may have lost some of their intensity recently, with Jordan Pickford screaming for his team-mates to keep going against West Brom on Thursday, but they have still won their past three games.
During an intensive week of games, Ancelotti has tried to rest key players when he can, but he was forced to bring on the influential Gylfi Sigurdsson soon after the break at the Hawthorns. The first thing the Icelander did is produce the headed winner for Richarlison, whose current spree has produced six goals in six matches.
Everton’s aerial threat has been exceptional this season. No team has scored more from set-plays than their 12, almost one in three of their tally, and they have managed 11 headed goals. However, their impressive line-leader Dominic Calvert-Lewin is without a goal in three since coming back from injury to partner Richarlison upfront.
Other players seem to have been less vital to success recently than earlier in the campaign, with James Rodriguez for instance not in the matchday squad for two games.
Centre-back Yerry Mina’s recent absence has encouraged Ancelotti to combine Ben Godfrey, Michael Keane and Mason Holgate as a back three, and it will be interesting to see if his preferred right wing-back Seamus Coleman is fit again. Lucas Digne has set-up six goals from the other flank.
The Italian coach is a pragmatist and will devise methods to handle the Blues’ danger men. The Toffees’ historic victory at Anfield was achieved with player redeployments designed to snuff out the likes of Mane and Robertson. Goalie Pickford is very comfortable playing the ball long to beat pressure from opposition forwards, and Allan has returned to add aggression to their midfield.
How to watch Chelsea-Everton
This match will be covered live by BT Sport in the UK. To find the relevant broadcaster where you are, see the Premier League’s broadcast schedule pages.
Chelsea TV’s global available matchday shows – including early team news, exclusive interviews and analysis – are on the 5th Stand app, Facebook Live and the official YouTube channel.
Best runs at the Bridge
Upcoming visitors Everton, Sheffield United, West Bromwich, Brighton and Fulham have five of the six longest winless streaks at Stamford Bridge in the league.
The Toffees’ run is enough to make their hearts go ohhh. They have come unstuck at the Bridge 25 times since a Paul Rideout winner in November 1994, the day the new North Stand (now Matthew Harding Stand) was unveiled.
It is Chelsea’s longest unbeaten run of top-flight home matches against any opponent except Tottenham, who endured 27 winless visits between 1990 and 2016.
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No joy for returning bosses
Thomas Tuchel is one of just four managers in Chelsea history to remain unbeaten over their opening 10 matches (the others being Jose Mourinho, Luiz Felipe Scolari and Guus Hiddink).
Neither of the two former Chelsea coaches currently plying their trade in the Premier League, Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti, has won a league game as a visitor to Stamford Bridge after six attempts.
The Portuguese has played five, drawn two and lost three with Spurs and Man United, while 2009/10 double-winner Ancelotti was beaten 4-0 at the Bridge last season.
Lockdown end in sight?
A year ago to the day, 40,694 spectators packed into Stamford Bridge to watch Chelsea win this fixture 4-0, with Billy Gilmour in a starring role on his league debut and Armando Broja making his bow as a late substitute.
In the stands there was already talk of a lockdown, but few anticipated the length and repetition of the closures that followed. Let us hope the roadmap holds firm and we can fill the Bridge safely again in due course.
History made on Merseyside
Liverpool’s first-ever fifth successive defeat was not only the only addition to the record books after Chelsea’s victory on Thursday. The result condemned the Reds to becoming the first reigning league champions to lose five in a row on home soil (the Blues have never lost five in a row).
Their eighth defeat in 33 games put Liverpool’s defence of the title in the Premier League era behind Leeds in 1992/93 (who had won the old Division One) and Leicester 2016/17 in terms of points won at this juncture. Chelsea in 2015/16 accrued two points more than the Merseysiders’ tally at the same stage.
On Wednesday 10 March it will be 116 years since the news went out that London had a brand new professional football club called Chelsea. The ambition and good judgment shown by Fred Parker, Gus Mears and others to start from scratch and make the Pensioners the best supported team in the country within three seasons should never cease to inspire us, even today.
The latest matchday programme
While the lockdown remains in place, the only way to have your usual fix with a physical copy of the matchday programme is to buy it online for £3.50 plus postage.
Premier League results and fixtures
Burnley 1 Arsenal 1
Sheffield Utd 0 Southampton 2
Aston Villa 0 Wolves 0
Brighton 1 Leicester 2
West Brom v Newcastle 12pm (Amazon Prime Video)
Liverpool v Fulham 2pm (Sky Sports)
Man City v Man Utd 4.30pm (Sky Sports)
Tottenham v Crystal Palace 7.15pm (Sky Sports)
Chelsea v Everton 6pm (BT Sport)
West Ham v Leeds 8pm (Sky Sports)
Man City v Southampton 6pm (Sky Sports)