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Preview: Chelsea vs. Everton - prediction, team news, lineups
16/12/2021 10:45:42

Everton boss Rafael Benitez returns to Stamford Bridge on Thursday for the Toffees' Premier League encounter with Chelsea.


Thomas Tuchel's men saw off Leeds United 3-2 at the weekend, while the Merseyside outfit suffered a disappointing 3-1 defeat to Crystal Palace.


We say: Chelsea 2-0 Everton


Chelsea have not been shutting up shop in the way that Tuchel would have liked in recent weeks, but a depleted Everton attack are unlikely to experience much joy here.


The hosts will likely turn to some of their attacking options from the bench - and they have them in abundance - so we can only predict a comfortable Blues triumph.


Match preview


A third consecutive Premier League stalemate at Stamford Bridge appeared to be on the cards for Chelsea during the visit of Leeds, as Raphinha, Joe Gelhardt, Jorginho and Mason Mount all struck in a thrilling encounter in the English capital.


However, in the dying embers of the encounter, Chelsea centre-back Antonio Rudiger won his second penalty of the afternoon, which Jorginho converted to hand the Blues a dramatic 3-2 win before tensions boiled over after the final whistle.


With Liverpool and Manchester City also prevailing by one-goal margins at the weekend, the story at the top of the table is very much the same, with the third-placed Blues one point behind Jurgen Klopp's men and two adrift of the reigning champions.


Conceding twice to the Whites meant that Chelsea - who have so often prided themselves on defensive solidity under Tuchel - have now failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their last four Premier League games, which may be a slight area of concern for the Champions League-winning coach.


However, the Blues have notched up 15 goals in their last five Premier League home games - an average of three per match - and Tuchel's men are the only side in the division to have hit 20 home goals for the season so far.


Six days on from the delirium of beating a lacklustre Arsenal side, Everton were faced with a much sterner test in the form of Crystal Palace, and the Toffees were no match for this London side as they slumped to a 3-1 loss at Selhurst Park.


Conor Gallagher stole the show with two goals while James Tomkins also got in on the act, and Salomon Rondon's effort proved to be nothing more than a consolation for the Toffees as the pressure weighs heavier on Rafael Benitez's shoulders.


Everton have now lost seven of their last nine Premier League matches - including each of their last four away from home - and they continue to head in the wrong direction after slipping to 14th in the table - seven points above 18th-placed Burnley having played a game more.


The Toffees failed to prove that the win over Arsenal was not a fluke, and Benitez is no stranger to losing five league games away from home having overseen such a miserable streak during his time with Liverpool in 2006.


Everton have rather impressively managed to win each of their last three Premier League clashes with Chelsea at Goodison Park, but they have lost four of their last five at Stamford Bridge and are without a goal on the Blues' turf in the league since January 2016.


Team News


Chelsea remain without long-term injury victim Ben Chilwell and the COVID-positive Mateo Kovacic, while it remains to be seen if Trevoh Chalobah and N'Golo Kante will be fit enough to play a part.


Kante is due to rejoin team training before the game but will likely only be considered for a place on the bench, with Tuchel potentially saving the bulk of his changes for the EFL Cup clash with Brentford on December 22.


Romelu Lukaku - facing his former club - and Andreas Christensen will be eyeing first-team returns here regardless, with Thiago Silva potentially making way as Tuchel aims to avoid overloading the 37-year-old.


As for Everton, Richarlison had to be taken off in the defeat to Palace after tweaking his calf, while Allan did not take part after sustaining a minor adductor problem.


The Toffees also remain without Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Tom Davies and Yerry Mina, and Lucas Digne is also a doubt amid reports of an internal rift with Benitez.


Rondon will likely lead the line at Stamford Bridge if Richarlison is not given the green light to feature, while Anthony Gordon will hope to force his way back into the team.


Chelsea possible starting lineup:

Mendy; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Christensen; James, Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek, Alonso; Mount, Pulisic; Lukaku


Everton possible starting lineup:

Pickford; Coleman, Holgate, Keane, Godfrey; Townsend, Doucoure, Allan, Gordon; Gray; Rondon

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