Chelsea vs. Everton
Venue: Stamford Bridge
Kick off: 3PM
Chelsea head into their Premier League encounter with Everton requiring at least a point to keep hold of fourth position in the standings.
Although the Toffees currently sit in 11th place, Carlo Ancelotti returns to Stamford Bridge knowing that victory will take his side to within five points of today’s opponents.
After being outclassed by Bayern Munich in the Champions League, Frank Lampard would have been relatively content with a comeback point being secured at Bournemouth last weekend.
Gaining a potentially-important share of the spoils on their travels gave Chelsea slight momentum heading into Tuesday’s FA Cup tie with Liverpool – a crucial match in their campaign now that they are unlikely to make any further progress in Europe.
While they rode their luck at times against the Premier League leaders, Chelsea ultimately deserved their 2-0 triumph at Stamford Bridge, seemingly laying the foundations for an improved run of form going forward.
However, although Lampard will talk up the performance of his side, the Englishman will be wary of getting too carried away with the Blues having only put together back-to-back wins on one occasion since the beginning of November.
That is a damning statistic for a team of Chelsea’s profile, but it may be that a teenager of a small stature can act as the catalyst for a stronger end to the campaign.
On just his third senior start, Billy Gilmour ran the show against Liverpool, partly due to his talent and partly because of Liverpool being unsure on how to handle the emerging prospect.
With Chelsea down to the bare bones in midfield, the 18-year-old is expected to occupy a role in front of the defence, although Lampard will err on the side of caution when it comes to expectations of the talented Scot.
Gilmour will likely be assisted by Ross Barkley, who is full of confidence ahead of the meeting with his former club after his brilliant individual strike against their Merseyside rivals in midweek.
Ancelotti will also be motivated to get one over his old club, particularly having avoided a touchline ban for a post-match rant after a controversial goal was disallowed against Manchester United last weekend.
The Italian will get a favourable reception from the Stamford Bridge crowd having previously won a league title with Chelsea, but that will be where the pleasantries end as the Toffees look to move closer to the top four.
While Ancelotti would have hoped for more than one point from games against Arsenal and United, he has been left relatively content with the performance of his team in the final third.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin has scored in five of his last six appearances, while Richarlison has been a constant menace for opposition defences as he continues to chip in with goals and assists.
From a defensive perspective, however, Everton must improve with 10 goals being shipped during their last half-a-dozen contests in the Premier League.
Trips to Tottenham Hotspur, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Sheffield United are also still to come, putting pressure on Ancelotti’s side to take their opportunities against opposition who make a habit of gifting teams a way into matches.
Chelsea possible XI: Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Zouma, Rudiger, Alonso, Gilmour, Barkley, Mount, James, Giroud, Pedro.
Everton possible XI: Pickford, Sidibe, Mina, Holgate, Baines, Walcott, Gomes, Davies, Sigurdsson, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin.