Chelsea will return their attentions to the Premier League as they welcome Everton to Stamford Bridge for the early kick-off on Saturday. The Blues have had a week to regroup after their disappointing defeat to Manchester City in the FA Cup, and Jose Mourinho has had time to reflect on what went wrong. He told the official Chelsea website on Monday:
We didn't defend with the same concentration and the same balance. Our defensive line was too far back, too deep, and we want to press as it is what we do very well, pressing the opponent in the opponent's half. We never did that on Saturday and defensive freshness was also clear. You could feel the Man City players without playing midweek were stronger and faster than some of my players.
With that in mind, Mourinho is likely to make several changes for Everton’s visit.
John Terry has missed the last two fixtures due to a problem with his gluteus muscle, but he should be available to face the Toffees. He will most likely partner with Gary Cahill at centre-half, with Cesar Azpilicueta and Branislav Ivanovic at left-back and right-back, respectively.
Mourinho’s point about the lack of pressing from his defenders could easily be extended to include his holding midfielders. Terry’s injury saw David Luiz recalled to his natural position at centre-half, but he should start further forward on Saturday.
Nemanja Matic has been a revelation since rejoining the Blues and will likely continue his role in the starting XI. This leaves both Frank Lampard and Ramires on the bench, where they will be able to make an impact as substitutes if the game requires.
Eden Hazard has been Chelsea’s star player this season, but he had some harsh words for himself after the FA Cup defeat last weekend, per the official Chelsea website: "Collectively we were worse because individually we were not good. I didn't play as well and we didn't play as well. That can happen. I would like to play like I did (in the league game) every match, every weekend, but it's not always possible."
Still, Hazard is virtually guaranteed a spot in the starting XI on Saturday.
Oscar came off the bench for the final 20 minutes against City but was unable to make the crucial difference Chelsea needed. With a week of rest and training behind him, he is likely to return in the No. 10 role against Everton. Willian’s exceptional work rate should see him complete the attacking trio.
Fernando Torres returned from injury for the last half-hour against City but was unable to complete his last-minute heroics from the league game at Stamford Bridge. Samuel Eto’o is in need of a rest, leaving Torres and Demba Ba to battle it out to start as striker on Saturday.
According to the Premier League website, Everton’s away form has been poor recently, with just one win in six matches. Mourinho bemoaned Chelsea’s finishing in the reverse fixture, which saw the Toffees win 1-0 courtesy of a first-half header from Steven Naismith. There has been a steady improvement in front of goal since then, and this starting XI should see the Blues secure their position at the Premier League summit with three points.
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