Manager David Moyes is looking forward to renewing his rivalry with former Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez.Benitez, now interim manager at Chelsea, is set to receive a hostile reception at Goodison Park on Sunday from fans who will not have forgotten one infamous taunt in 2007.The Spaniard referred to Everton as one of the Premier League’s “smaller teams” after they held Liverpool to a frustrating goalless draw at Anfield.Overall, Moyes clashed 14 times with Benitez during the latter’s six-year spell with the Reds. Everton only managed to win three of those games, all at Goodison.
“It was always tough because Liverpool had a great team,” Moyes said.
“It was always hard to get the better of them. They had a tremendous team, and still have.
“I think he (Benitez) always wanted to be in the Premier League. I think he enjoyed his stint here.
“I think, like a lot of people who come to this country, he enjoyed the honesty and the way the Premier League is played.
“I think he has bided his time to get another job.”
Everton go into the match hoping to continue their good home form as they have drawn Liverpool, beaten Tottenham and United at home this season. Their recent win against Wigan was a bit scrappy as Moyes admitted, but believes it won’t be a problem against high-flying Chelsea. Everton currently sit 5 and are 2 points behind Chelsea (who have a game in hand), but a win at Goodison could put Everton in a Champions League place with half of the season already behind them.
Chelsea will no doubt look to keep up their goal scoring form and defensive solidness as they have recorded 17 goals scored and 2 conceded in their last 4 English matches. Rafa Benitez remained confident and is looking forward to his next few months as Chelsea manager and his “rivalry” with David Moyes.
Benitez, meanwhile, has refused to rule out a second coming at Liverpool ahead of his first match on Merseyside as Chelsea boss.
Interim Blues manager Benitez has been linked previously with a return to Anfield and will be a free agent again at the end of the season.
And asked if he could see himself returning to manage his former club one day, he said: “At the moment, I’m really pleased here.
“I want to keep winning and you never know what can happen in football.”
“I have a very good relationship with the fans and the city but I’m a good professional and that means I will give 100% for this club.”
John Obi Mikel is an injury doubt for Chelsea.Midfielder Mikel will have a fitness test on a knee injury along with left-back Ryan Bertrand (groin).Ramires is expected to return from a knee knock but Sunday’s game is set to come too soon for John Terry (knee), while Daniel Sturridge could be omitted from the squad again ahead of his proposed move to Liverpool.
Projected Lineups :
Neville, Jagielka, Distin, Baines
Osman, Hitzlsperger, Gibson, Pienaar
Azpilicueta, Cahill, Ivanovic, Cole
Hazard, Mata, Moses
Key Stats :
- Everton have netted in their last 16 league matches, the longest run of all top-flight teams this season.
- The Toffees have only ever beaten their current total of 33 Premier League points after 19 games once – the 2004-05 season.
- The west Londoners have scored 13 goals in the last three league games.
- Chelsea have had 44 shots in their last two league matches.
- Blues interim boss Rafa Benitez has not lost in the last six times he has come across the Toffees, winning five and drawing one.
- Juan Mata has finished or assisted 14 goals from 16 league appearances this campaign.
Given Everton’s fine form at home and Benitez’s recent success as manager and his general success v Everton, it will certainly be a cracking match as both teams have managed to score in recent times and Everton’s defense remains prone as Chelsea’s defense remains as stable as ever. With all that in consideration, this match is either ending in a draw or a slim victory to Chelsea. I’ll leave it at 2-0 to Chelsea or 1-1.