This looks to be the pick of the 6th Round ties as these teams meet for a third time this season. Everton won the first of those before throwing away a two-goal lead to draw 3-3 when they met not long ago at Stamford Bridge, although John Terry was a long way offside when he scored the last gasp equaliser.
Predicting these two this season has been particularly difficult and a look at their team sheets would suggest two sides that should be considerably higher than 12th and 10th in the league. However, a first trophy in over 20 years would certainly rescue an Everton season that otherwise looks like petering out despite several impressive performances. This is their fourth appearance at this stage in the past five seasons and while they’ve reached the semis in just one of the past four attempts they will feel they have every chance here.
Chelsea have stormed past MK Dons and Man City in the past two rounds with a pair of 5-1 wins but the City side was a virtual youth team and the Dons are hardly world beaters. The Blues have undoubtedly improved under Guus Hiddink but a home draw against Stoke followed by a second defeat by PSG highlights that there’s still a long way to go to recapture last season’s glories.
John Terry is close to a return but this will probably come too soon and so they will continue without both first choice centre-backs as Kurt Zouma has a long-term injury. With both teams scoring in their last eight games that defensive weakness is clear to see and while the attack has bailed them out they are expected to also be missing Diego Costa after the striker limped off against PSG. No one has improved as much as Costa under Hiddink and Chelsea have drawn all three of their away games this season when the striker’s been out of the starting XI.
While Chelsea have problems at both ends heading into this game Everton’s are largely defensive. Only five teams have conceded more goals in the Premier League this season – though they are level with Chelsea in that respect – and they’ve kept just three clean sheets at home in their last 20 games across all competitions – against Newcastle, Dagenham &Redbridge and Aston Villa respectively. On the flipside the only teams to stop them scoring at Goodison this season are the two Manchester sides and West Brom, and against a weakened defence we certainly expect them to get some joy in the attacking third.
Despite their relatively poor home record this year the team news definitely pushes this tie in Everton’s favour, but both teams to score looks the banker bet, at 1.72, given we’ve got two struggling defences and two good attacks even if Costa misses out. However, for punters looking for a long shot we like the 4.5 on Everton to Win and Both Teams to Score – it should have happened in both meetings this season and the Toffees will be keen for revenge after being robbed here two months ago.
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