Everton welcome Chelsea to Goodison Park for the 38th and final game of the 2010/11 Premier League season, knowing that a point would secure 7th position.
Usual protocol then for these match previews is to evaluate our recent record against the opposition – and to be fair, our recent record against the rent boys isn’t bad. We’re unbeaten in the last five encounters, winning 2 and drawing 3, scoring 8 and conceding 7 in the process.
From the five, the most recent encounter between the sides in February in the FA Cup fourth-round replay was without doubt the most dramatic. Frank Lampard got his customary goal to give Chelsea the lead with a low strike in the first half of extra time but Everton stunned Stamford Bridge by equalising at the death through a curling Leighton Baines free-kick. In the penalty shoot-out that followed, both sides missed once before Johnny Heitinga told Ashley Cole to fire over and Phil Neville sealed a 4-3 triumph – arguably the highlight of a frustrating 2010/11 season.
Louis Saha struck twice in the corresponding fixture last season at Goodison in February 2010. Florent Malouda´s strike put Chelsea ahead but Saha headed Everton level after his clever run lost the adulterous John Terry. Saha then saw a poor penalty saved by Petr Cech after Ricardo Carvalho had brought down Landon Donovan but the Everton striker made amends when he smashed his second with a crisp finish after Terry failed to clear.
Turning our attention back to the present day and both clubs come into the fixture on the back of disappointing results. Chelsea surrendered a lead at home by conceding in the dying seconds to draw 2-2 with Newcastle and we of course, lost 1-0 at West Brom. The cynics will say both clubs desire to make amends will likely be shrouded by little being at stake and the players planned exotic holidays but nevertheless, the Everton lads should be eager to make the end of season lap of honour a little more…. well… honourable.
To do that they’ll have to overcome a Chelsea side with obvious quality throughout. He’s no Anichebe but Drogba isn’t a bad player, is he? Malouda is fairly decent and Torres would probably get a place in the Everton starting eleven. Frank Lampard in particular relishes playing at Goodison Park, a stadium he once described as the most atmospheric in the country, so whoever has the task of keeping tabs on him will have to be on their game.
Introducing the Everton Mishmash!
Tim Cahill is likely to sit this one out because of a foot injury, with Marouane Fellaini and Louis Saha (both ankle) are ruled out.
GrandOldTeam’s prediction: Everton 1-1 Chelsea – a repeat score line of the last three encounters in 90 minutes between the two sides, available at 11/2. With little at stake, and exotic holidays for the players on the horizon – we reckon this one will fizzle out. We’re going for Lampard to score first, with Beckford to equalise, as he did at Stamford Bridge in December to enter double figures for the season.
Our prediction of 1-1 with Lampard to score first is available at 33/1. If you follow our link, sign up and stick a tenner on it, you’ll also get an instant free £20 bet and you’ll also be doing a good deed by helping GrandOldTeam by supporting our sponsor!