THE Premier League returns on Saturday lunchtime as Everton welcome Chelsea to Goodison Park. Ben Levene (@BenLevene96) shares his best bets.
Everton v Chelsea | Saturday 23rd December 2017, 12:30 | Sky Sports
Saturday’s early kick-off sees Antonio Conte’s Chelsea travel to Goodison Park. They face Sam Allardyce’s Everton side who are now four matches unbeaten since he took charge, winning two on the bounce.
Chelsea themselves bounced back from a defeat at West Ham earlier this month, with three consecutive wins over the past week.
Two organised outfits
Both sides have been pretty efficient at restricting opposition chances. Since Allardyce’s reign began, Everton have conceded 13 shots on-target across four league games. He has his team organised and they are infamously tough to beat.
In one-off games against the big sides, Allardyce’s teams tend to be especially robust and pragmatic. During the Merseyside derby, the Toffees did ride their luck at times, but they allowed little space for the likes of Mane and Salah to run into.
We can also look back to last season where Allardyce’s Crystal Palace outfit beat Chelsea 2-1 at Stamford Bridge, ending their unbeaten run. On that occasion, Palace played with split-strikers and looked to exploit Chelsea’s back-three by hitting the channels in behind.
Attacking reshuffle for Blues
Chelsea beat Bournemouth 2-1 late-on in Wednesday’s League Cup quarter-final. Alvaro Morata picked up a booking when celebrating his winner, so is unavailable this Saturday through suspension.
That’s likely to mean Conte has to shuffle his pack ahead of Saturday. In recent times he’s played Edin Hazard off Morata, but given the lack of trust he’s shown in Michy Batshuayi, he may revert to the 3-4-2-1 he favoured last season, with Hazard and Willian playing behind Pedro in a fluent front-line.
Willian and Pedro both played 60 minutes during the week, whilst Hazard got 30 minutes. In contrast, the likes of Andreas Christensen, Cesar Azpilicueta, Victor Moses, Marcos Alonso and N'Golo Kante all sat out the midweek game. So if tiredness does come into play, it is likely to be in the attacking rather than defensive third.
Goals can be opposed
Chelsea have conceded more than the single goal in just one of their nine away games this season. More generally they haven’t done so in the league since the 21st October since they beat Watford 4-2 at home, which is also a run of nine games.
The Blues have allowed just 13 shots on-target across their last five away matches in the league.
So if Everton can keep things tight like we’ve come to expect with Allardyce, then we could be in for a cagey affair. Add in Morata’s absence and the festive fixture congestion, then we have a nice angle to oppose goals.
Under 2.5 Goals is 9/10 with Marathon. It’s landed in three of Everton’s four games under Allardyce. Under 2.75 Asian Goals is 4/6 and it could be worth taking the reduced odds to remove some risk as this sees half our stake void if exactly three goals are scored.
Everton to collect the most Christmas cards
Everton have seen two or more cards in each of Allardyce’s four league games in charge. On the other hand, Chelsea have had the most cards in just one of their nine away games.
Given Morata’s absence, it’s likely that rather than having an out-and-out front man to mark, Conte will operate with the busy trio of Hazard, Pedro and Willian. This would allow more scope for Everton fouls and cards.
Everton are a tempting evens to receive the most cards.
Everton v Chelsea – Under 2.75 Asian Goals (4/6 Bet Victor)
Everton v Chelsea – Everton to receive the most cards (1/1 Bet365)