The battle for the Premier league title is getting tougher as the league progresses. One of the favorites for the trophy, Chelsea will battle it out with Everton at Stamford Bridge this weekend.
The two sides are meeting for the second time this season; the first encounter saw Everton pip Chelsea 1-0 at Goodison Park.
Roberto Martinez’s men put in a superb defensive display to overcome Jose Mourinho’s side the last time, with the visitors missing a host of gilt-edged chances throughout. A rare Steven Naismith goal gave Everton that victory.
The 1-0 loss marked Jose Mourinho’s first defeat on his return as Chelsea manager.
Martinez receives a boost as his top striker Romelu Lukaku returned to training at Everton. Lukaku returned to training just three weeks after being taken off on a stretcher during Everton’s defeat by Liverpool last month.
The Belgian is ineligible to face his parent club in Everton’s next match on Saturday, but is aiming for a return to action the following weekend when they play West Ham at Goodison Park.
The Merseyside club slipping off the pace at the top; five points behind Tottenham in fifth and eight away from Liverpool in fourth, albeit with a game in a hand. But Martinez is aiming for the top four slot and seeking to maintain the Europa spot.
Everton go into the match against Chelsea psychologically motivated having progressed to FA Cup quarter-finals in last weekend following a superb 3-1 win over a Swansea City.
Everton have been in fine form since hiring Roberto Martinez as manager following the departure of David Moyes to Manchester United.
The Spaniard added quality and compactness to his team by signing young and talented players like Lukaku from Chelsea, Gareth Barry from Manchester City, Gerard Deulofeu from Barcelona and Lacina Traoré from Monaco.
Martinez also brought on £13million signing from Wigan, James McCarthy, to shore up and create a balance in the midfield.
Chelsea have put behind them their 2-0 FA Cup defeat to Man City at the weekend and focusing on the next challenge ahead.
Mourinho will be seeking to avoid another trophy-less season. As the Blues prepare for the visit from Everton on Saturday the message from the manager to the squad will be clear.
‘I don’t like to lose but when I lose, instead of big crying I want the next match to come, I want to play, I want to try to have again the taste of the victory.
I am never down with a defeat and I want to start working towards the next match, and hopefully I can pass to them this kind of spirit, this kind of message,’ Mourinho said.
The visit of Everton on Saturday is an opportunity for the Blues to maintain their top lead at the Premier League table and perhaps claim the trophy having lost out in the Capital One Cup and FA Cup respectively.
Senegalese born Chelsea attacker Demba Ba is also optimistic of his team defeating the Martinez-tutored side.
Ba and the other members of the squad are playing their part in this, and there is also a job to be done by the team on the pitch this weekend when they kick off against the side currently sixth in the league table.
‘We lost the last game in the FA Cup and we don’t want to lose two in a row. That would be bad,’ says Ba, who despite limited playing time of late is keeping himself strong physically and mentally to be ready if called upon.
‘We are just going to do everything on Saturday because it’s important to get back to winning ways, it’s important for the title race and it’s important for our confidence,’ Ba added.
Everton biggest worry is their poor away records having lost three matches, draw six and won just four in thirteen away matches. Compared to a Chelsea side that is yet to lose a match at Stamford Bridge. The Blues have won eleven and draw only one in twelve home fixtures. They will be avoiding a back to back lose.
Mourinho side stands the better chance to get a positive result against The Toffees.
By: Anthony Nlebem