With both teams unbeaten, Everton and Chelsea's early season encounter should fill any fans' appetite after the international break.
Everton's three deadline day signings have added strength in depth, which has been Everton's biggest problem in the last few years. Their match day squad is as good as anyones on their day, but towards the end of the season they tend to run out of steam.
With Barkley finally getting the chance to establish himself in the first team in addition to their midfield reinforcements of Gareth Barry and the always improving James McCarthy, their midfield looks in good shape.
Everton's other problem in recent seasons have been goals. They've been overly reliant on a sole striker, whether it was Beattie, Saha, Beckford, or Jelavic, they never have an adequate replacement when he goes on a bit of a dry spell. The depressing statistic that Fellaini was Everton's top league goal scorer last year with 12 goals says it all.
If they wanted to break into the top 4 this season, they needed alternatives up front and they had to sign this summer. They did. What will please Everton fans the most is how diverse their strike force is. From the monstrous Lukaku, to the speed of Kone, with the goal poacher Jelavic, accompanied by the flair of young Deulofeu, Everton fans have plenty to be excited about.
Chelsea, on the other hand did their business early. Their best signing this summer was undoubtedly getting the Special One to finally seal his return to the Bridge. Chelsea look like a team who have a point to prove this season.
Winning the Europa League somewhat papered over the cracks that they finished 3rd in the table, and 14 points behind United. It wasn't good enough for a club like Chelsea, and from the way they started the season, they mean business. This includes the professional performance they displayed at Old Trafford.
In the first half, they were full of creativity without making many clear cut chances, but once they realised a win was a far-fetched result the players reacted to a change of tactics. Perhaps under any other manager they would've been naive to try to go for the win, but Mourinho knew a point could be the difference between the two clubs or even with Manchester City at the end of the season.
The Mourinho effect seems to be working so far, but only time will tell if this second marriage will be a success. The players seem to be more then willing to play for him, and with his loyal servants in the dressing room of Terry and Lampard, all seems well at the Bridge. Jamie Carragher said at the beginning of the season, that Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement is a massive loss to United because he was worth at least 10 points a season.
The same could be said about Mourinho to Chelsea. Last season, when they went through a tough spell, as every team does, they couldn't grind results out. They couldn't win the odd 1-0 and in the end it cost them. This was a highlight of Mourinho's first reign when they won the league title twice. They got the own goals, the last minute goals, the deflections. It all went their way, and that is what Chelsea desperately missed last year.
In the last 10 meetings, the two clubs have drawn 4 times, and won 3 matches each. With Martinez's expansive style of football, and Chelsea's typical counter-attacking style, the match should be the spectacle of the weekend. Kone will be very important for Everton as he will be expected to stretch the Chelsea defence, which will open up space for midfielders like Osman and Barkley to get into.
Equally for Chelsea, the pressure will be on the midfield maestros of Oscar, Mata, and Hazard to cut open the Everton defence as goals have dried up from their strikers. Eto'o might just win them the game depending on how match fit he is and if he can create an instant link with his new teammates.
With Martinez still not tallying a win yet in his first 3 games, he'll be anxious as ever to get that first win. Chelsea on the other hand, cannot depend on their midfielders to bail them out every time their strikers can't put the ball in the back of the net. In addition to an intimidating atmosphere at Goodison Park, Martinez's men might just have too much for the Chelsea side which is full of internationals.
Fatigue will play a big part as players such as Mata and Oscar have racked up the air miles. With players such as Willian and Eto'o not yet properly acquainted with their new teammates, I have a feeling that Chelsea will come up short and Martinez's first special win will be against the Special One.
My prediction: Everton 2-1 Chelsea
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