Two streaking English Premier League powerhouses will square off Monday with a top four position in the standings at stake.
Thomas Tuchel has now gone unbeaten in his first ten Chelsea games, with seven wins and three draws in all competitions certainly steadying the ship and setting a solid platform for the Blues to try to finish the season in the top-four (and maybe challenge for a trophy or two).
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But that job is far from done, and the margins remain far from comfortable. A win on Monday would certainly help — more pertinently, a loss or even a draw on Monday would be actively damaging in those prospects. Everton, who have gone nine unbeaten away from home (dating back to the start of November), are just one point behind us right now in fifth, and with a match-in-hand. West Ham (also with a match-in-hand) and Spurs (after their win against Crystal Palace) are just two points behind.
Meanwhile, Manchester United and Leicester City both won this weekend, and we need to keep pace with them to make his a crowded fight for more than just one place, fourth.
Date / Time: Monday, March 8, 2021, 18.00 GMT; 1pm EST; 11:30pm IST
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Chris Kavanagh (on pitch); Michael Oliver (VAR)
Forecast: Chance of rain
On TV: BT Sport 1 (UK); NBCSN, Universo (USA); Star Sports Select HD1 (India); SuperSport Premier League, Canal+ Sport 3 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: BT Sport Live (UK): NBC Sports Live, Universo Now (USA); Hotstar (India); DStv Now (NGA)
Chelsea team news: The only fitness concerns for Chelsea at the moment are Thiago Silva and Tammy Abraham, neither of whom traveled with the team on Thursday. Silva’s missed an entire month now with his thigh injury, while Tammy’s been dealing with an ankle knock off and on for the last three weeks. It seemed to get better, only to now evidently flare up again.
Tuchel’s other concern is of course picking the correct lineups with so many choice at his disposal. It’s a tricky balance, and he’s thus bound to upset some regardless of what lineup and bench he names for any given match. But so far, he’s been making most of the right moves and correct calls.
Chelsea’s defensive excellence has been a welcome sight, but our lack of goals continues to be a concern. Playing for just one or two moments of quality to make the ultimate difference can be a winning strategy, but one that will always carry significant inherent risk of dropped points. (Even if a manager like Mourinho once boasted about how “easy” it is to win 1-0.)
Chelsea host Everton in a clash of top four contenders on Monday. Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea squad currently sit in fourth one point ahead of Carlo Ancelotti’s Toffess, though the Toffees have a game in hand. A Chelsea win would give the London side some breathing room in the chase for the Champions League spots while an Everton victory would leave the race for fourth wide open.
Both teams are in good form, coming off victories in their previous outings. Chelsea won a close match away to struggling Liverpool 1-0, taking their Premier League unbeaten streak under Thomas Tuchel to eight matches. Everton defeated West Bromwich Albion 1-0, their third straight victory,
In the teams’ previous meeting last December, Everton eked out a 1-0 home victory thanks to a Gylfi Sigurdsson penalty. Chelsea, however, are a very different side now than they were then having undergone a managerial change and found a run of form that will make them formidable opponents this time around. Everton meanwhile have managed their recent run of good form despite some ugly numbers. While they’ve taken nine points from their last three matches, they’ve been collectively outshot across those games 35 to 27 suggesting that without some improved performances their results will likely being to deteriorate.
Everton’s lack of punch hampers them as Chelsea’s defense carries the day, and the London squad win comfortably. Pick: Chelsea 2, Everton 0
Chelsea will host Everton at 1 p.m. ET on March 8 on NBC Sports Network, hoping to provide a little cushion in that No. 4 spot.
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Entering the weekend, Chelsea held fourth place in the Premier League with 47 points, but Everton was a step behind with 46. And Everton has played 26 matches, one fewer than Chelsea’s 27.
So it’s paramount for the Blues to hold off their visitors and extend their advantage.
Neither team is within striking distance of Premier League leaders Manchester City, who reign with 65 points, but they are jockeying for an important spot. And both Chelsea and Everton are playing relatively well as they prepare to meet.
Chelsea beat Liverpool last week and hasn’t lost since the middle of January. And Everton has captured three straight victories to vault up the standings, led by Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who has a team-high 13 goals in Premier League competition.
Meanwhile, Chelsea claims one of the league’s most balanced offenses — no player on the team has scored more than six goals but nine have found the back of the net at least twice. The Blues also have a stingy defense that has allowed 25 goals on the season, the second fewest in the Premier League.
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