Samuel Eto’o is likely to make his debut for Chelsea at Everton on Saturday, according to manager Jose Mourinho. The Cameroonian striker arrived from Anzhi Makhachkala late in the transfer window but Mourinho, who previously worked with him at Inter Milan, believes that Eto’o can make an immediate impact.
“I think he is adapted to the style of play we want in our team, which is a bit contradictory to the general style and philosophy in the Premier League,” he explained, according to Chelsea’s official website. “We are not a physical, direct team. We want to use the qualities of our attacking players in a different way and Samuel is adapted to it. Technically he is very good, his movement is very intelligent, he knows exactly the kind of movement he has to do to give continuity to the attacking game, and he has this natural appetite for goals.”
Eto’o’s arrival, as well of that of his former Anzhi teammate Willian, was followed by the deadline-departure of Romelu Lukaku on a season-long loan to Saturday’s opponents. Mourinho, though, believes that the Belgian, who will be ineligible to make his debut for Everton against his parent club, still has a big future at Stamford Bridge.
“It was something he was very keen to do,” he said. “The kid wants to play every weekend. I don't know if Roberto [Martinez] promised him that, but the kid is more keen on that than competing every week against other big players for a position.
“He's a great kid and that's why we don't want to sell him. We didn't sell him when we had good proposals to do it. We all believe he is a player for many years at Chelsea.”
Chelsea will be playing their first match in the Premier League in close to three weeks, with their schedule interrupted by their UEFA Super Cup defeat on penalties to Bayern Munich and then the subsequent international break. Thankfully for Mourinho, his multinational collection of players has returned unscathed and he’ll have a full squad to choose from as he looks to build on seven points from his first three league games back in charge.
While Everton will be without Lukaku, they could hand debuts to their other two deadline-day recruits James McCarthy and Gareth Barry. Former Wigan midfielder McCarthy is a doubt for the match, however, as he and his Republic of Ireland teammate Seamus Coleman returned from international duty with slight knocks. Darron Gibson and Antolin Alcaraz remain absentees, although Martinez hopes to have the pair available by the end of the month.
D: Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Baines
M: Mirallas, McCarthy, Barry, Pienaar
D: Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Cole
M: Ramires, Lampard
De Bruyne, Oscar, Hazard
Prediction: Martinez is in need of kick-starting his first season in charge of Everton. One of the major problems, as it was for much of his predecessor’s reign has been a lack of goals. The absence of Lukaku, therefore, is a significant blow. Still, Everton should be able to recover from the sale of Marouane Fellaini with McCarthy and Barry providing accomplished options that are arguably more suited to Martinez’s style of play.
Chelsea, meanwhile, also find their main issues in attack. Eto’o should provide a valuable option, but he is likely to need some time to adjust to the Premier League. It remains, meanwhile, to be seen just how Willian will fit into Chelsea’s already packed array of attacking midfielders. At Goodison Park, Everton should be able to match Chelsea and secure a fourth successive draw.
Everton 1-1 Chelsea
Where to watch: The Barclays Premier League match will kick-off at 12.30 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by NBC, with a live stream available on NBC Sports Live Extra.