Everton or Chelsea’s B-Team in EFL Cup Clash?

Photo credit: Chelsea Debbs (Wikimedia) CC License

Chelsea (-220) vs Everton (+750), Draw (+425)

Chelsea are back in the top four after a 4-2 win against Watford over the weekend. They’ll face Bournemouth for a league match this Saturday, followed by a Champions League fixture against Roma a couple of days later. But before all that, they’ll take on Everton on Wednesday, October 25th, at Stamford Bridge in the fourth round of the EFL Cup.

It’s a heavy workload for Chelsea at the wrong time. The squad is stretched thin and riddled with high-profile injuries. The Blues are still waiting on N’Golo Kanté, Victor Moses, and Danny Drinkwater to return, and Conte is unlikely to clear any of them for the Everton clash. The Chelsea manager has been upfront about his priorities, and the League Cup sits at the bottom of the totem pole.

Instead of rushing his battle-worn stars back to the field, Conte will grant some of his lesser-known players a chance to shine. He plans to give up-and-comers like Charly Musonda and Robert Kenedy, both 21 years old, some much-needed game time. Both have yet to play a single EPL game this season; Wednesday’s game will be a chance for them to make a case for more playing time in more important fixtures. 

By taking a chance on fringe players and academy kids, Conte leaves the door open for an upset. Everton, however, aren’t currently in the business of exceeding expectations. They’re winless in their last five games across all competitions and most recently lost 5-2 to Arsenal. Manager Ronald Koeman is at serious risk of losing his job and could well be out by the time Wednesday rolls around. [UPDATE: he was sacked minutes after this was written.]

Unlike Chelsea, Everton can’t afford to give anything less than 100% in the League Cup as it’s their only realistic chance to claim any silverware this season.

For Koeman, personally, another embarrassing loss could (and should) be the final straw.

While Everton don’t have the same injury concerns as Chelsea, they will be fielding an uninspiring 11 because they don’t have the personnel to do otherwise. Following the loss of top goalscorer Romelu Lukaku last offseason, the Toffees signed three attacking playmakers — Wayne Rooney, Gylfi Sigurdsson, and Davy Klaassen. But none are a suitable replacement for Lukaku.

Even with a smattering of inexperienced and subpar players taking to the field, expect Chelsea to get the job done. They already beat Everton handily this season, and Wednesday’s game should end in a similar fashion.

Pick: Chelsea (-220)