Chelsea-Everton Preview


It is said those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it.

Which is why Everton are hoping the championship pedigree of new signing Samuel Eto'o ahead of their highly anticipated clash with Chelsea on Saturday night at Goodison Park will help reap their long-sought Champions League berth by the season's end.

The Toffees (0-2-0) have opened the season with 2-2 draws against both Leicester City and Arsenal, with late slack defending the culprit - three of their four goals conceded have come in the 83rd minute and later. The Gunners escaped Goodison Park with a point by scoring both their goals in the final seven minutes, leaving Everton to lament lost points similar to their stretch run last season - when three losses in their final five matches allowed Arsenal to pip them for the last Champions League spot and condemn them to fifth place and the Europa League.

Feeling the need to bolster their strike force, manager Roberto Martinez added the 33-year-old Eto'o, one of the best African players of his generation, to a two-year deal on Tuesday. He scored 12 goals for Chelsea last season to help them to a third-place finish domestically and a semifinal spot in Champions League, and Martinez is counting on the veteran to bring guile into the penalty area to complement the power and pace of Romelu Lukaku.

''I have been very impressed by the style of play Everton adopt,'' said Eto'o, a two-time Champions League winner with Barcelona who may be available for this match. ''I could see straight away that at this club I will have the opportunity to play football.''

While Eto'o - who also announced his retirement from international play with Cameroon - likely will be a match-time decision, Martinez has ruled out Steven Pienaar due to a groin injury and said Darron Gibson is available.

Chelsea (2-0-0) will take a step up in competition after dispatching of newly promoted teams to claim their six points. The Blues followed up their 3-1 victory at Burnley with a 2-0 triumph over Leicester City on Saturday as Diego Costa and Eden Hazard scored second-half goals after goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois made a momentum-changing save to preserve the scoreless deadlock.

With goals in each match, Costa has already proven to be a key missing ingredient manager Jose Mourinho lacked in last season's title push, and the gaffer has been pleased with the striker's seamless transition to the Blues.

"I got the feeling in pre-season his adaptation wouldn't be a big deal," Mourinho noted. "He's a happy guy, not speaking good English but always communicating. His style of play is adapted to our needs."

These were the kind of victories against lesser squads Chelsea failed to garner down the stretch last season - 1-0 losses at Aston Villa and Crystal Palace and the shocking 2-1 home defeat to Sunderland immediately spring to mind - so taking care of business early has the Blues in the right frame of mind.

"We have a good team and we need to play very well," Oscar said. "Six points is a good start for us but we know the Premier League has only just begun.

"There is a long way to go."

The teams traded 1-0 victories last season, with the home team winning each time. Steven Naismith scored in last season's corresponding fixture for Everton, who have four wins and one draw in their last six matches versus Chelsea at Goodison Park.