It will be the biggest test of Chelsea‘s Premier League title credentials so far when they take on Everton at Goodison Park this weekend. Traveling to play Everton is one of the more difficult away games outside of the very top teams in the league, and Chelsea will need to be at their best to come away from the game with all three points.
One area of the game in particular that will be vital to both teams will be the wide areas. Players like Eden Hazard, Andre Schurrle, Leighton Baines, Seamus Coleman and Kevin Mirallas will all frequent the wings throughout the game and it will be vital how each team manages that area for the 90 minutes.
A big part of Everton’s offense comes through Baines and Coleman, from the full back positions, who like to adventure forward whenever they can. They will continue to do so even against Chelsea and it will be important whether the wide attackers of Chelsea are reliable enough to track the Everton full backs when they do venture forward.
If they don’t, it could spell trouble for Chelsea. They would be giving time and space to Everton’s biggest creative supply lines within their team. It would also create two-on-one opportunities for Coleman and Baines with their wing partners, Mirallas and, potentially, Steven Pienaar. Chelsea are going to have to work hard to earn a positive result and particularly so on the flanks.
It will obviously not all be one way traffic, though, as the threat of Hazard and Schurrle will be substantial for Chelsea. If Everton are careless with possession, with both Coleman and Baines in attacking areas, then Hazard and Schurrle will expose the Everton defense. Both teams have dangerous strikers in Diego Costa — who may or may not play due to a hamstring injury — for Chelsea and Romelu Lukaku for Everton, and if given enough opportunities, then they will score the goals to win their team the game.
It will be a battle for both teams over the 90 minutes, balancing attack and making the opposite wide players work with testing their defensive ability. They will also need to make sure not to be too adventurous and get caught in the opposition themselves. It will be an intriguing game with many quality players on the pitch and the wide areas in particular will be as interesting to watch as they will be vital to the outcome.