Chelsea-Everton Preview

The Associated Press

Chelsea return from a long layoff looking even stronger than before, particularly in the offensive end.

With new additions Samuel Eto'o and Willian expected to be available for selection by manager Jose Mourinho, the fortified Blues look to return to the Premier League in impressive fashion and defeat Everton for the fifth time in six tries Saturday.

Chelsea (2-1-0) had already entered this season as one of the major favourites to win the league, but their chances may have improved further with the additions of Eto'o and Willian from Russia's FC Anzhi before the close of the transfer window on Sept. 2.

Eto'o's acquisition reunites him with Mourinho after the pair spent two seasons with Internazionale from 2009-10, winning four titles, most notably the 2010 Champions League.

"It wasn't a hard decision," Eto'o told the team's website of moving to London. "I saw the qualities Chelsea have, and I was very happy with Jose Mourinho before, so when the opportunity came, I was very happy to take it.

"To win is the biggest reason for getting up tomorrow morning. I want to win and win."

First, the Cameroonian will have to win a spot on the pitch, and he's joining a star-studded group of forwards that includes Demba Ba, Fernando Torres and Andre Schurrle.

Willian will be trying to do the same in a crowded midfield that's already having difficulty finding room for Juan Mata. However, the Brazilian's 32-million pound transfer fee may be reason enough for him to be on the team sheet sooner than later.

Eto'o certainly vouches for Willian's quality.

"I think Willian he is one of the best players in modern football," Eto'o said.

The addition of Willian may only further drop Mata down the pecking order, but the club's reigning player of the year isn't discouraged.

"It's been a very, very good two seasons for me here, maybe the best of my career, and what I want this season is the same," Mata said. "I'm looking forward to achieving as many trophies as we have done in the last two seasons and hopefully this is going to be a good season for us again."

Mourinho has denied there's any friction between the two, despite Mata playing only 65 minutes through three league matches. He remained on the bench for the scoreless draw with Manchester United on Aug. 26, and again four days later in the UEFA Super Cup that ended with Chelsea falling to Bayern Munich 5-4 on penalties.

"Everything is clear between me and the player. We have no problems," Mourinho said. "I think he's a very important player for us. He wants to be a very important player for us. There is no story."

The story Saturday won't involve Romelu Lukaku, who was loaned to Everton (0-3-0) from Chelsea and cannot play for the Toffees against his parent club.

The 20-year-old Belgium international appeared three times as a substitute this season before the move, but was crowded out of the roster due to Eto'o's arrival.

This is Lukaku's second loan in as many seasons, and he scored 17 goals in 35 games for West Brom in 2012-13.

"The important thing, at 20, is to be playing, and while West Brom was an option, Everton was a better one," Lukaku told the team's official website. "Everton's footballing approach and possession play can be perfect for me."

The Toffees could use some production from Lukaku after settling for scoreless draws in each of the past two games, including one at promoted Cardiff City on Aug. 31. The only goals they've managed to score came in a 2-2 draw at Norwich City to open the season Aug. 17.

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