Chelsea will look to continue their unbeaten start to the season in all competitions when they host Everton today.
Less than 72 hours after a tricky Europa League game in Belarus, where they were unconvincing in a 1-0 win over BATE, the Blues return to league action as the only unbeaten team in Europe’s ‘Top Five’ leagues.
Chelsea have impressed this season after a disappointing 2017/18, with new boss Maurizio Sarri keeping them within touching distance of leaders Manchester City. He has also been credited with the impressive start to the season for midfielder Ross Barkley, who will come up against his old side for the first time, if selected.
“I don’t think it (the reception) will be the best,” Barkley said ahead of the game. “I’m not nervous, I’m excited to play against my former club and team-mates – I understand how some of them play, so that could be an advantage for me.
“On the day I might get a few nerves as it will feel a bit strange. I’m looking forward to catching up with some of the staff there who I used to get on really well with.”
Despite Everton’s bright start, questions have still been raised over the Toffees’ away form, having registered only one win on their travels to date.
But manager Marco Silva pointed to the circumstances surrounding the side which had affected their early season on the road, and is confident they will pick up points away from Goodison Park.
He said: “I don’t have doubts that we will improve to the end of the season. The first two away we played with 10 players and almost won.
“After we played Arsenal and Manchester United. They were more effective than us. We had a very good win against Leicester and we were competitive in all of them. I am sure we will improve this form. I don’t have doubts about that.”
Alvaro Morata, Marcos Alonso, David Luiz, Antonio Rudiger and N’Golo Kante are expected to start for Chelsea in today’s game.
Morata, Alonso, Luiz and Rudiger were rested from the trip to Belarus, staying in London, while Kante was an unused substitute after receiving a late call-up due to Cesc Fabregas’ illness.
Fabregas is a doubt for the Toffees game, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek may not feature after a back complaint which boss Sarri described as minor
Everton forward Richarlison is a doubt for their trip to Stamford Bridge. The Brazil international, who rolled his ankle early in last weekend’s 3-1 win over Brighton but played the full duration and scored twice, will be assessed ahead of the match.
With on-loan defender Kurt Zouma ineligible against his parent club, there could be a first Toffees start for fellow summer signing Yerry Mina. Phil Jagielka and James McCarthy are available, while Jonjoe Kenny is another doubt.
Chelsea are unbeaten in 23 home Premier League games against Everton (W13 D10) since losing 0-1 in November 1994.
In all competitions, Everton have won none of their last 28 visits to Stamford Bridge against Chelsea (D11 L17).
Only one team has ever had a longer winless away run against an opponent in Premier League history than Everton’s current 23 against Chelsea – Spurs went 25 away games without a win at Stamford Bridge between 1993 and 2016.
Chelsea are looking to remain unbeaten in their opening 12 games to a top-flight season for only the second time, also doing so in 2014-15 (unbeaten in first 14).
If Chelsea avoid defeat here, Maurizio Sarri will set a new record for longest unbeaten start in the competition by a manager (12 games), overtaking Frank Clark’s 11 games in 1994.
Coming into this matchday, no player has been involved in more Premier League goals this season than Chelsea’s Eden Hazard (11 – 7 goals, 4 assists).
Everton manager Marco Silva has lost all six of his away Premier League matches in London – no manager has a worse 100 per cent losing rate in London than Silva, with Nigel Pearson also losing six out of six in the capital; only one manager has lost his first seven Premier League away games in London (Mick McCarthy, who lost his first eight).