Chelsea v Everton
Sunday 27 August 2017
Ronald Koeman says he will give Idrissa Gana Gueye every chance to prove his fitness ahead of Sunday’s game against Chelsea.
After ensuring their place in the Europa League group stage with a 3-1 aggregate win over Hajduk Split, the Blues landed back in Liverpool on Friday afternoon with attentions quickly switching back to the Premier League and the trip to the reigning champions.
Gana travelled to Croatia but missed the second leg at the Stadion Poljud after sustaining a slight hamstring problem in training.
“I don’t know about Gana,” said Koeman. “We need to wait until tomorrow [Saturday] to make a decision on whether or not he can start.
“We have two days to prepare the team. Of course, we know it’s tough to play Monday, Thursday and Sunday, with the travel and an early kick-off time (1.30pm) as well - but it’s still the start of the season.
“We’ve been a little bit unlucky with some injuries, which makes it even more difficult, but we’ll do a session tomorrow to see which players are the most fresh to start.
“I don’t like to change a lot but maybe freshness comes into it.”
Gana’s midfield colleague Morgan Schneiderlin will definitely be unavailable as he serves a one-match suspension for the red card he received in the 1-1 draw with Manchester City on Monday.
Sandro Ramirez, who has missed the past three games owing to a heel injury, has been rated “doubtful” for the Toffees’ outing at Stamford Bridge.
Davy Klaassen [foot], James McCarthy [knee], Ross Barkley [hamstring] and long-term absentees Yannick Bolasie, Ramiro Funes Mori [both knee] and Seamus Coleman [broken leg] remain sidelined.
For the hosts, Gary Cahill is suspended after being sent off on the opening day of the season, while Eden Hazard will also be unavailable after stepping up his return from injury in Chelsea Under-23s’ 3-0 defeat to David Unsworth’s young Everton side on Friday night.
The Toffees are unbeaten so far this season, with a home win against Stoke City and away draw with Manchester City, while two home wins and a pair of away draws have seen Koeman’s side progress to the group stage of the Europa League.
Chelsea, meanwhile, began their campaign with a shock 3-2 defeat to Burnley on home soil.
Antonio Conte’s nine-man side became only the second defending Premier League champions ever to lose on the opening weekend, after Leicester City last season.
But the Londoners responded impressively last weekend, winning 2-1 against Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley.
CLASSIC MEETING: Chelsea 0-1 Everton, Saturday 26 November 1994
After masterminding a 2-0 win over Liverpool in his first match as Everton manager, Joe Royle continued the momentum with a fine victory at Stamford Bridge.
Paul Rideout netted the only goal of the game in the first half to help the Blues in their relegation battle.
The scoreline, perhaps, did not do the performance justice, with Duncan Ferguson hitting the post, Joe Parkinson hit the crossbar, Paul Rideout having a header controversially ruled out and Barry Horne missing from close range with virtually the last kick of the game.
ONE TO WATCH: ALVARO MORATA
Signed from Real Madrid this summer for a club-record fee, Morata scored on his Premier League debut but couldn’t prevent Chelsea from falling to a 3-2 defeat.
A Spain international with nine goals in 20 senior appearances for his nation to date, Morata may only be 24 but has already starred for Real Madrid and Juventus in the past.
MAN IN THE MIDDLE: JON MOSS
The Yorkshire-based official has taken charge of two Premier League games this season - Huddersfield Town’s 3-0 away win at Crystal Palace and Manchester United’s 4-0 victory at Swansea City.
He has issued six yellow cards and no red cards in those two games.
Moss took charge of three Everton games last season, two of which ended as draws and the most recent was the 3-0 home defeat against Chelsea.
As always, there will be free live audio commentary of Sunday’s contest here on evertonfc.com
to listen to broadcast duo of Graham Stuart and Darren Griffiths’ coverage of the action on matchday.
Get involved in the broadcast on Saturday by tweeting in your shout-out requests using #EvertonLive
In addition to our live commentary, look out for our live blog which will bring you updates, imagery, video and team news from Stamford Bridge. Head to the match centre, the official App or the evertonfc.com
homepage on matchday to find it.