Predicted Chelsea XI to face Everton: James returns, Kante decision as Potter dealt double injury blow
Graham Potter can claim a fourth win in a row when Chelsea host Everton in the Premier League.
Chelsea are on a three-game winning streak after victories over Leeds United, Borussia Dortmund and Leicester City see them on the cusp of completing a perfect March.
Six goals in three games have revitalised Chelsea following a torrid run of results since October, easing the pressure and lifting the mood inside the dressing room.
Now they welcome the Toffees, who are relegation-threatened, to Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening and Potter knows his side will have to be at their best to clinch another three points.
Chelsea vs Everton: Live stream, TV channel, kick-off time, team news and prediction
“There are three points up for grabs against a tough team, a team that has gone in the right direction with Sean (Dyche),” Potter said ahead of the game.
“They play to their strengths and that’s all we can focus on. We don’t worry about what we’re going to do in May or June. We’re going to focus on (Saturday).”
Chelsea will continue to play a three-back system after finding a change in results, something Potter assessed and believed was the right decision.
“We had a couple of injuries which can change the dynamic of our side,” added the 47-year-old.
“We looked at the performance of the team and thought we needed to adjust things. The back three felt a better way for us to go. In terms of how we attack and defend, it felt better for us.”
So how could Chelsea line-up against Everton?
Possible XI: Kepa, Cucurella, Badiashile, Fofana, Chilwell, Fernandez, Kovacic, James, Felix, Mudryk, Havertz
Edouard Mendy, Thiago Silva (knee), Cesar Azpilicueta (head) and Armando Broja (ACL) are all sidelined.
Reece James is set to return from illness and will likely replace Ruben Loftus-Cheek at right wing-back, while Wesley Fofana retains his place after his impressive return from injury.
N’Golo Kante could be the huge return for Chelsea this weekend. He has stepped up his recovery and return from a hamstring injury which has seen him sidelined since last August. Potter confirmed he is in contention to feature, but will ensure he is managed very carefully.
Potter said: “He has been a huge miss to us, that’s not to say other players haven’t given absolutely everything, they have. But N’Golo Kante is a top player.
“It’s great for us that he’s back, we need to be mindful of the fact that he’s had a long injury, we need to make the next steps to get him up to speed in the Premier League, which is what we will do. But it’s great to have him with us.”
Meanwhile, both Mason Mount and Raheem Sterling are still absent for the Blues. Potter added: “Raheem has a problem with his hamstring. It’s not too serious but he’ll miss the game at the weekend and he’ll miss the international trip.
“It’s the same for Mason. He has been struggling a little bit with his pubic bone. He wasn’t 100 percent in the last game and still isn’t quite there. So he’ll miss the England camp.”
However, the duo are hoped to be ready and available to face Aston Villa once the international break concludes.
“Yes, we’re hopeful (they will return after the break),” continued the Chelsea boss. “It’s a niggly one with Mason. He’ll have days where he feels good and then days where he has a setback, so hopefully we can manage it through this period and it’ll be okay.”
Kai Havertz and Joao Felix are expected to keep their places in the starting XI, while Mykhailo Mudryk will be keen to retain his role in the Chelsea side as they look to pick up another win in the Premier League.
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