While there may be a sense that our season is over, there is still something to play for. Everton visit the Bridge this Sunday hungry for a final farewell victory for David Moyes. In the aftermath of our fantastic Europa League win in Amsterdam on Wednesday, it would be easy to get complacent and lose focus, but there is still some work to do especially as the race for the top 4 finish is still very much on. Arsenal could yet still pip us to 3rd spot, and quite aside from the bragging rights, we’ve seen how draining an extra-long season like the one we’ve just had can be. Qualification games for the Champions League proper would be an unnecessary annoyance and the team must focus to avoid that eventuality.
Annoyingly, we are also in a position where a draw might not even be enough. Should we draw 0-0 with The Toffees on Sunday, and Arsenal were to win 2-1, we would end up with identical points, goals scored and goal difference. In this situation, premier league rules state that a play-off on neutral ground would be played to decide 3rd place. The absolute last thing we need at the end of such an extended and exhausting season is a play-off game against an in-form and fresh Arsenal team. We have a new manager coming in and some potential high profile targets that will need a proper pre-season to gel with the squad. The team will need as much time as possible to wind down, relax, and prepare for the coming season.
Everton have never won at Stamford Bridge under David Moyes, but while history is in our favour, he will be desperate to sign off with a win. Say what you want about Rafa Benitez but he has managed to successfully juggle a hectic schedule, keeping us competitive with most of our players fresh. It looks like both Eden Hazard and John Terry will miss out with respective injuries once again, and with Ramires suspended it’s likely Victor Moses will take his place. Demba Ba will also be eager to impress, and we may see him return to the starting line.
Everton are no pushovers, but we are European champions. As long as the team approach the game in the right mindset, I have no doubt we can secure 3rd spot and enjoy our summer holidays.