Both of these managers looked to be facing the chop in recent weeks, but seem to have steadied their respective ships and should, at the very least, see out the rest of the season.
While Maurizio Sarri’s authority looked flimsier than Theresa May’s after the extra-time debacle with his goalkeeper in the Carabao Cup final, the performance itself from his teams showed that the players hadn’t given up on the chain-smoking Italian. Three straight wins over Malmo, Fulham and Kiev aren’t much to shout about, but given the way things were going, the manager can at least let out a wheeze of relief.
Meanwhile, Marco Silva’s side put in a spoiler performance in the derby to help Man City climb back to the top of the league, and in truth, they weren’t hugely threatened in the course of that game. that result followed a much-needed win away at Cardiff, though they haven’t been able to build on the momentum it might have generated as the Blues threw away a two-goal lead at St James’ Park last week to lose 3-2.
Chelsea are rounding into form and will want three points to pile the pressure on Arsenal, United and Spurs in the chase for the last two Champions League spots. Everton will likely try to close down the Londoners like they did their fellow Liverpudlians a few weeks back, but Chelsea showed against Kiev, in a 5-0 rout, that they’re finding the scoring touch. I’d fancy that to make the difference.
The Blues took care of their mid-week opponents without either Gonzalo Higuain, absent due to illness, or Eden Hazard, who was an unused sub. These are their two biggest attacking threats. That’s got to be a good sign for this.
Both of these sides have shown an inconsistent streak throughout the season, suffering heavy defeat and shock losses, only to turn around the next week and dish a beating out to an unexpecting opponent. In both of these scenarios, goals have been the norm.
Over 2.5 has come in five times in the last eight league games for Chelsea, while Everton saw 3-1 and 6-2 defeats followed by a 5-1 away win at Burnley. They’ve tightened up a bit since then, but are still capable of conceding heavily, as last week’s collapse showed. If Chelsea are up for this, there should be goals.
Higuain missed the mid-week game, but Sarri is hopeful he’ll be recovered from the bug that meant he couldn’t sample the delights of Kiev during the week.
He’s not set the world alight since arriving from Milan, but that’s never really been his game. He’s a poacher, and while Giroud deputised capably for him during the week with a hat-trick, the Argentine should be straight back in the team if healthy.
He announced himself as a Chelsea player with a brace against Huddersfield but didn’t score again until the Fulham game. He may not be the ideal presence against the best teams, but solidly mid-table Everton might find him more of a handful. The preference here is for him to get the last goal because he has been seeing full 90 minutes workloads since joining the team, and is the kind of striker you’d expect to knick one in to seal a sound Chelsea 3-1 victory.
- Match Result: Chelsea @ 10/11
- Over/Under 2.5 Goals: Over @ 17/20
- Last Goalscorer: Gonzalo Higuain @ 4/1
*All odds correct at time of posting