Pat Nevin is warning Everton they will encounter a “pretty exceptional” Chelsea team on Wednesday night – regardless of who Antonio Conte selects in his starting line-up.
Nevin spent four years with the Toffees after joining from Chelsea in 1988 and was an interested spectator when the teams clashed in the Premier League back in August.
The defending champions were in blistering form on that day and won the match 2-0, courtesy of first-half strikes from Cesc Fabregas and Alvaro Morata.
Spain forward Morata is likely to be left out of the Carabao Cup fourth-round tie by Chelsea boss Conte, with Michy Batshuayi – who scored twice in the Londoners’ 4-2 win over Watford on Saturday – tipped to start.
“Chelsea will probably not send out their regular team but it will be a heck of a good team nonetheless,” Nevin told evertonfc.com.
“Chelsea’s second-choice team is pretty exceptional at the moment and I think they will be extremely keen to do well in this competition.
“I do not expect Morata to start that game, whether he is fit or not.
“For Everton, it is probably going to be about stopping Michy Batshuayi. He is nowhere near the same player as Morata… but if you give him any space in the box, he will score against you.
“His goals-per-minutes-on-the-pitch ratio is absolutely extraordinary – so do not give him space.”
Former Scotland international winger Nevin admits he is unsurprised Everton’s clutch of summer signings have required a settling-in period at their new club.
He is nevertheless impressed by the manner in which Wayne Rooney has started the campaign following his return to Goodison Park after 13 years away with Manchester United.
Rooney’s sumptuous goal against Arsenal on Sunday was his fourth in the Premier League and fifth in all competitions this term.
“Wayne has a lot of miles on the clock but, quite simply, he is a brilliant player, a fantastic player,” said Nevin, who played for Tranmere Rovers and Scottish teams Motherwell and Kilmarnock after leaving Everton in 1992.
“The dynamism that was there when he was younger, you cannot keep that up for an entire season once you reach the latter stage of your career.
“So, the important thing is to use him the right way and make sure you get that explosiveness from him.
“Right at the start of the season, it was there. It will not be there for every single game because you cannot do that once you reach a certain age.
“But when you do use him and it works, it will be fabulous. And his attitude will be great. He loves this Club. Remember that press conference when he came back here – you just smile thinking about it. He is desperate to do it for the Club.”
David Unsworth will take charge of the Blues in the capital as Everton bid to advance to the competition’s last eight at the expense of five-times winners Chelsea.
Nevin is anticipating a crackling cup tie at Stamford Bridge and, after seeing the Blues concede twice before the break in the sides’ Premier League meeting, is stressing the need for Everton to neuter Chelsea’s attacking threat during the contests’ opening exchanges.
“I was at the league game down there and walked on the pitch beforehand,” said Nevin, who scored 16 goals in 109 league games for the Blues and played against Liverpool in the 1989 FA Cup final.
“I made a point of walking over to the Everton fans first and it was quite magical, a really great moment. The Everton and Chelsea fans were great to me.
“It was a really good game and Chelsea played incredibly well on the day.
“It is going to be tough for Everton. They just need to hang on and stay in it – then they will get their chances to win the match.”