Match Preview; Chelsea (H)
For Sunday’s game against Chelsea, David Pasztor, blog manager at WAGNH (We ain’t got no history), Chelsea’s SBNATION affiliate, was kind enough to provide us the opposition viewpoint by answering a series of questions, providing an excellent insight to the mind of Chelsea fans coming to Goodison Park on Sunday.
Jacob: Coming into Sunday’s game, who is Chelsea’s player to watch, who do you believe will make the biggest impact?
David:The obvious answer here, just as it has been since 2012, is Eden Hazard. When he’s on form, he’s unplayable. When he’s disinterested, he can still dazzle. And since there is a very real chance that he has less than 10 Premier League games remaining in his career, we should probably appreciate him as long as we can before he jogs off to Madrid to play for Zinedine Zidane. It will also be interesting to see how Ross Barkley handles the situation since he’s likely to start in front of a hostile crowd, while a couple young English players could make a late impact off the bench, in Ruben Loftus-Cheek (rarely seen combination of size and skill) and Callum Hudson-Odoi (teenage sensation).
Jacob: As a squad, what is this Chelsea side’s greatest strength? Weakness?
David: Since conceding four (4!) to Bournemouth and six (6!) to Manchester City in the Premier League, Chelsea have noticeably improved in defensive focus and have kept 5 clean sheets in the last 7, including 120 minutes against Manchester City in the League Cup final. It’s a rather ironic situation, since Sarri promised “fun” football, but lately it’s the defensive focus that is providing the baseline from which we can look to build, while creating and converting chances remains the side’s greatest weakness. That latter part does mean that there is little or no margin for error, and any small mistakes can prove costly, such as Wolves taking a point from Stamford Bridge last weekend with just one chance.
Jacob: How will Chelsea look to play against Everton?
David:After staunchly refusing to tweak his tactics for the first two-thirds of the season, Sarri has shown some willingness to switch things up lately, dropping the defensive line deeper and not pressing as high up against opponents like City or Spurs, and even unveiling a 4-2-3-1 look against Wolves last weekend to get the late equalizer. That said, we should be expecting the standard “Sarri-ball” 4-3-3, with Jorginho at the base of midfield and two runners on either side of him with Barkley and Kanté. Chelsea will look to dominate possession, though our tactical execution tends to fall apart a bit after that initial aim.
Match prediction: David predicts, “massive disappointment, while hoping for a pleasant surprise.” He points out that dropping points at this stage in the season would be devastating for Chelsea’s top 4 hopes, making tomorrow’s game a big one. Everton, over the last many years, have given fans very little to hope for when playing against the big 6, home or away. A rejuvenated Goodison atmosphere however is the Xfactor when big teams come to town, such as when Liverpool visited just 2 weekends ago. After a collapse at Newcastle, Everton will be looking to rebound amidst a season that has brought yet more despair and underachievment upon Merseyside. This movie has been played a million times, and because of that, I know what to expect.
Everton 0-0 Chelsea
(As an aside, I would like to thank David and @WAGNH for collaborating with the site for this piece!)