Club Focus – Chelsea – Foundations need rebuilding at broken Bridge

Chelsea welcome 16th-placed Everton to Stamford Bridge this weekend and will be looking to start a new winning streak at home after their disasterous previous showing in front of their fans. Last time out in front of the Blues supporters Carlo Ancelotti’s side endured their biggest home defeat since April 2002 as they were soundly beaten 3-0 by a rampant Sunderland side. It was not only the most emphatic reverse the Blues had received at home since Manchester United were victorious by the same scoreline more than eight years ago, but it also broke Chelsea’s nine-game winning streak at Stamford Bridge without conceding.

Since the shock result against the Black Cats on November 14, the rot has continued for Chelsea with just one point picked up from consecutive away games; a 1-0 loss despite dominating against Birmingham City, and last weekend’s 1-1 draw at St James’ Park, in which Salomon Kalou’s equaliser spared his side a fourth defeat in five Premier League games after a calamitous mix-up between Petr Cech and Alex in the Chelsea defence gifted Newcastle an opening goal. With that result, the reigning Premier League champions hold on top spot of the table was relinquished for the first time this season, as they fell below new leaders Manchester United. With Sir Alex Ferguson’s side travelling to Blackpool in Saturday’s late kick off, the Blues could temporarily top the table again with victory in the afternoon over Everton.

Fortunately for the Blues, it seems that captain John Terry, missing due to a well-documented nerve problem over the unsuccessful last three games, looks set to return to the centre of defence for Saturday’s clash with the Merseysiders. Also boosted by the return of Michael Essien’s strength to a much maligned midfield who have collectively struggled to impose themselves on games in recent weeks, the Blues will be hoping to finally reignite their dwindling title challenge this weekend.

David Moyes’ visiting Everton side have struggled to find consistency this season, a factor that sees them sit just two points outside the relegation zone coming into the game. Just three wins in 15 games in this season’s ultra-competitive Premier League has brought about the Toffees’ slide into the bottom half, after last season’s impressive 8th place finish. In their last match, at home to West Brom, they were stunned into a 4-1 submission and their recent form has been as patchy as their weekend hosts’, without a win in five matches. Ever-presents since its 1992 inception, Everton have travelled to Stamford Bridge 18 times in the Premier League and returned to Merseyside victorious just once, 1-0 winners back in November 1994. Since then they have journeyed to West London on 15 occasions and been beaten in seven of those outings. However, they have not lost at Stamford Bridge in their last four visits, holding out to take home a point, including last seasons’ memorable 3-3 tie as they exposed some terrible set-piece defending by Chelsea to come from behind twice.

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