Premier League Preview: Chelsea vs. Everton

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  • Chelsea have scored more goals against Everton than any other team in their history: 261
  • Mourinho’s side have earned a league-high 14 points from losing positions
  • Everton haven’t won any of their last 4 away games, not scoring in their last two

With Chelsea top of the Premier League and Everton pushing for the top four, this game should be a real cracker on Saturday (Watch live on NBCSN, 7:45am ET and online via Live Extra) at Stamford Bridge.

Jose Mourinho’s side lost 1-0 to Roberto Martinez’s Everton team back in September, as the Portuguese boss suffered his first defeat in charge of Chelsea in his second spell. Chelsea are top of the standings and have the chance to extend their lead to four points if they beat the Toffees at home this weekend.

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Chelsea are still unbeaten at home in the league under Mourinho, with that streak now extended to 73 games. Against Everton on Saturday they will come up against a talented side that will cause them plenty of problems with their fluid attacking play under young Spanish coach Martinez. But Everton have not beaten Chelsea away in the league for 20 years, so Chelsea must fancy their chances. But will Mourinho’s men have one eye on their UEFA Champions League last 16 clash against Galatasaray on Wednesday? Time will tell, but this match should be one to savor.

In teams news Chelsea will welcome back captain John Terry after injury, but David Luiz is ruled out with a hip injury. Everton forward Romelu Lukaku is fit but unable to face his parent club Chelsea.

What they’re saying

Jose Mourinho on facing Everton: “They are a very good team, they’re playing well and getting good results. They are in a position in the table that reflects the quality of their team and obviously it will be a very difficult match for us. They defend well and are dangerous on the counter attack. They have a very experienced midfield with players like Barry and Osman who give them stability to their game. They are a team with good balance and they are a difficult opponent.”

Roberto Martinez on the challenges vs. Chelsea: “Stamford Bridge is one of the hardest places to go and get three points, and I think it’s going to be a terrific measurement for ourselves after the disappointment that we had at White Hart Lane. It’s something we need to correct, to use that experience that when you are the better side, you need to win the football game. Chelsea have got terrific home form with this manager, and not just this season. It’s an incredible challenge but probably internally we need that.”

Predictions

With Chelsea’s incredible home record under Mourinho still intact, it’s games like these that seem very dangerous. Chelsea are top of the league, but lost 2-0 to Manchester City last weekend in the fifth round of the FA Cup and the Blues also have the distraction of a Champions League knockout game coming up. Everton narrowly lost 1-0 away at Tottenham in their last trip to London, but played well and they can definitely cause Chelsea issues. If I was a betting man, I’d go for the draw. But something tells me Chelsea will grind this one out.

Former Czech Republic defender Rajtoral kills himself

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PRAGUE (AP) Former Czech Republic defender Frantisek Rajtoral, who won the domestic league title four times before joining Turkish club Gaziantepspor, died on Sunday. He was 31.

[ MORE: Bayern scouted Kyle Walker, Alex Sanchez this weekend ]

The Czech football federation said in a statement that Rajtoral had “committed suicide in Turkey.”

His agent Pavel Zika confirmed the player’s death, describing it as a “huge tragedy.”

Gaziantepspor announced Rajtoral’s death in a brief statement on its website.

Rajtoral played 14 international matches for the Czech Republic.

In the top Czech league, he won four titles with Viktoria Plzen and played in the group stage of the Champions League twice for the club. He moved to Hannover in the Bundesliga in 2014 for half of the season, on loan.

He left Viktoria Plzen last year to move to Turkey.

Bellerin wants to represent Spain U21s despite Wenger’s wishes

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Arsene Wenger has made it clear about Hector Bellerin representing Spain this summer but the Arsenal defender is prepared to go against his manager’s wishes if he is selected.

[ MORE: Bayern scouted Kyle Walker, Alexis Sanchez over the weekend ]

The 22-year-old has said he hopes to play for Spain’s Under-21 side this summer during the 2017 European U-21 Championship but Wenger has been weary of Bellerin’s injury status and wants his fullback to maintain a clean bill of health throughout the offseason.

“I really want to play,” Bellerin told IBTimes. “Representing Spain is very important. If [Albert] Celades gives me the chance I’ll be there.

“Those are opinions of the managers. I have to keep working. The truth is that I had a difficult injury but I think that I am at 100% now and I’ll try to prove it when I get the chance.”

Bellerin signed a six-and-a-half year deal with the Gunners in November, where he has resided since coming up in the club’s academy. He has made 102 appearances for Wenger’s team in that span over all competitions.

Roma boosts bid for 2nd in Serie A by beating Pescara 4-1

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PESCARA, Italy (AP) Roma boosted its bid for second place in Serie A and automatic entry into the Champions League with a 4-1 win at Pescara, which was mathematically relegated on Monday.

[ MORE: Newcastle joins Brighton in promotion to Premier League ]

Roma moved four points clear of third-placed Napoli, which drew against Sassuolo 2-2 on Sunday. Third place in Serie A receives a Champions League playoff.

Pescara remained 15 points behind Empoli. There are only five matches left and Empoli has the better head-to-head record, which is the deciding factor if two teams finish level on points.

There were 48 goals in total in the 33rd round, matching the record set in October 1992.

Roma took control shortly before halftime, with Kevin Strootman breaking the deadlock after Stephan El Shaarawy unselfishly rolled the ball across the area.

Radja Nainggolan, who earlier hit the bar, doubled Roma’s lead two minutes later.

Mohamed Salah extended Roma’s advantage three minutes after the break and the winger doubled his tally on the hour following a swift counterattack.

Ahmad Benali got a consolation for Pescara and a Cristiano Biraghi free kick also hit the post for the home side.

Frank Yallop resigns as Phoenix Rising coach shortly after Drogba arrival

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The timing is a bit sudden and certainly leaves many questions up in the air, but Phoenix Rising will have to look for a new manager.

[ MORE: Chicharito talks heating up with LA FC ]

On Monday, head coach Frank Yallop resigned from his position with the United Soccer League (USL) club less than one day after former Chelsea legend Didier Drogba joined the organization as a player-owner.

With Phoenix seen as one of several lower-level clubs with ambitions of making the leap to MLS over the coming seasons, Yallop’s departure is surely a shock to many.

According to ESPN FC, Rising lead owner Berke Bakay was quite surprised by Yallop’s decision to step down, as was Drogba.

“Didier was as surprised and disappointed as we were that Frank is unable to continue coaching our Club,” Bakay told ESPN FC. “But, we all respect his decision to put his family first.

“Didier’s focus will remain on improving our team as a player and assisting our MLS expansion team ownership group as a co-owner. Frank will be helping with our international search for a new head coach.”

Rick Schantz, the current Rising assistant coach, will head the team’s managerial duties for the interim while the club completes a full search for a new manager.