As the Premier League enters the business stage of the season, Chelsea is in a wonderful position to see through their dominance at the summit and win the title in May. Jose Mourinho has undoubtedly delivered on his promise that Chelsea would be serious contenders in his second season in the hot seat since returning a successful stint at Real Madrid, with his tactical masterclass and shrewdness in the transfer market reaping instant dividends.
Juan Cuadrado’s arrival during the January transfer window will add even more quality and pace to Chelsea’s attacking play, and with the defence and midfield areas also looking strong, there is little to suggest that anyone can stop them running away with the title. The 2-1 victory against Aston Villa extended Chelsea’s lead at the summit to seven points, and with Manchester City continuing to wobble, it may be the perfect opportunity for the Blues to ram home their advantage. Everton may be struggling to rediscover their best form this season, but they will arrive at Stamford Bridge with a point to prove, making them dangerous opponents. It may take a similar performance to the one that Chelsea put in at Liberty Stadium in their 5-0 rout against Swansea, and if they play like this again, it would be difficult to see Roberto Martinez’s side avoiding the same fate.
The Premier League’s leading scorers continue to find the back of the net with unerring ease, with their attacking football this season being a joy to behold. Chelsea’s superb home record – winning ten and drawing one – will make them strong favourites to record yet another three points in front of the fans, but they will have to put in another excellent performance to get past Everton. Aston Villa proved that even teams who are struggling in the Premier League can, on their day, cause problems; Everton are certainly not the sort of team to under-estimate, particularly with former Blues player Romelu Lukaku returning in the hope of proving his critics wrong. It will therefore require a strong performance from not only the attacking players, but also the defence and holding midfield players who will be expected to keep things tight at the back. Games against the Toffees are always a tight affair, and if Eden Hazard, Oscar and Diego Costa can continue their wonderful form, they could be the all-important difference between the two sides.
Toffees come unstuck
Despite being unbeaten in their last four Premier League fixtures, Everton are still not playing to their true potential and are falling short of the standards set last season. Martinez is undoubtedly one of the most talented managers in the game, but fans have already begun to voice concerns that the team increasingly resemble his former side Wigan who, despite winning admirers for their style of play, eventually dropped back down to the Championship. Winning just six of their twenty-four fixtures has not helped matters, but Everton are always a dangerous team to come up against and should not be under-estimated. However, they could be missing up to seven players for the trip to Stamford Bridge, with Steven Naismith and Muhamed Besic joining the likes of Leighton Baines, Tim Howard and Steven Pienaar on the side-lines after picking up knocks in the Merseyside derby.