After enduring a nightmare Christmas period, Roberto Martinez’s Everton finally look to be getting back on track. After four straight Premier League losses in late December and early January the Toffees were starting to look over their shoulders at the tight relegation battle that was brewing beneath them. But, after a run of six games unbeaten (including two FA Cup third round meetings with West Ham), they are now beginning to look a little more settled. This revival will be sorely tested on Wednesday night, however, when they travel to Chelsea for the toughest away fixture in the calendar.
Manner of Recovery
Everton fans would gladly have taken any upturn in fortunes after Christmas but the manner of some of the Toffees’ recent performances will not have dispelled their fears entirely. The only win in the last six games came at Crystal Palace when Martinez’s men held out for 88 minutes following an early Romelu Lukaku strike.
The main positive that Everton fans will take from the last few weeks will be the improvement in the team’s defence. After starting the season disappointingly, including conceding six at home to Chelsea in August, the likes of John Stones have really stepped up in recent weeks and made the team hard to beat. The three clean sheets that they have kept in their last three games is testament to Everton’s improvement at the back.
Lukaku in the Mood?
Everton’s biggest problem on Wednesday night will come at the other end of the field. Chelsea are a difficult team to break down at the best of times, but when you are low on confidence and struggling to get service to your front men they can be a nightmare to come up against. Everton’s main hope is that Lukaku is in the mood to prove to Jose Mourinho just what he is capable of. Wednesday will be a major test of Everton’s mettle. If they can come away from Stamford Bridge with their recovery intact, then they will well and truly have put their festive woes behind them.