Everton could really do with a morale-boosting victory when they host top-four hopefuls Chelsea at Goodison Park in the Premier League soccer on Sunday (11:30am ET).
After a promising start to the season under Marco Silva, Everton have actually been one of the worst three teams in the Premier League since the start of December, picking up just 15 points in 17 matches from a record of four wins, three draws and 10 defeats.
After strong investment over the last two years, albeit spent in a manner that has left an unbalanced squad, Everton came into this campaign with their sights firmly set on bettering their eighth-place finish in 2017-18. That was a campaign that began with just two wins in nine under Ronald Koeman before being steered to a solid top-half finish by Sam Allardyce.
At the end of November, they looked solidly placed to do so. They sat sixth in the table, with a points accumulation rate that would have yielded their best points tally in five seasons had it been maintained over the full course of the campaign. Things have gone downhill since. Everton haven’t won consecutive matches thereafter and come into Sunday’s fixture on the back of just one win in their last six at all venues and one in their last eight at Goodison Park.
The result is that Everton now find themselves down in 11th, seven points shy of Wolverhampton Wanderers in seventh and six behind Watford in eighth. Neither do their underlying numbers provide much hope of a turnaround between now and the end of the campaign, not least because four of their remaining eight matches are against members of the top six. They now look unlikely to better last season’s points haul.
Supporter discontent is increasing, particularly after last weekend’s 3-2 loss to Newcastle in which Everton surrendered a two-goal half-time lead. Pressure is growing on Silva, a man who since his first job at Estoril has not lasted, for one reason or another, more than a single season at the helm of a club. Indeed, the latest American bookmakers’ odds have him pegged as the second favorite to be the next Premier League coach to leave his post.
The man at the top of those rankings will be sitting in the opposition dugout on Sunday. A credible showing in their Carabao Cup final defeat to Manchester City, league wins over Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham and a decent draw with Wolves have eased some of the immediate pressure on Maurizio Sarri. The Chelsea coach nevertheless remains favorite to be the next coach out of a job.
Much will likely depend on whether Sarri can secure sufficiently strong results across his side’s remaining nine league matches to yield a top-four finish or failing that, lead Chelsea to success in the Europa League. They progressed to the last eight of that competition with a 5-0 win away to Dynamo Kiev on Thursday that saw them to an 8-0 aggregate victory.
If he can achieve either of those goals he should be safe. He might even prove to be anyway given that Chelsea are likely to find it hard to attract a top-level replacement this summer in the wake of FIFA banning them from transfer activity for two windows due to irregularities in their youth recruitment.
Sarri has significantly altered Chelsea’s style of play to a much more possession-orientated one. While that has resulted in similar top-line results and underlying statistics to those they had during last season’s fifth-place finish under Antonio Conte, he could certainly argue that it is an approach that is likely to benefit from further time and development.
He is, though, only likely to get that time if results in the remainder of this season are good enough to earn it. The trip to Everton will act as Chelsea’s catch-up match on the three teams above them in the table, and a victory would see them leapfrog Manchester United, draw level on points with Arsenal in fourth and move to within a point of Spurs in third.
Our Preview’s Everton vs. Chelsea Predictions & Picks Verdict
Sarri’s side have looked a bit more convincing in recent weeks but frailties still exist. At the betting odds, the value looks to be with the home team. Our Everton vs Chelsea prediction is:
- Bet on Everton to win @ best odds of +305 (over 3/1) with Bovada.