February 09, 2015

Chelsea might be undefeated since parting ways with manager Jose Mourinho last month, but need to start stringing together more victories if they're to make a serious run at a top-four finish in the Premier League.

Looking to avenge an earlier road defeat to Everton, the Blues try to continue their undefeated home run against the Toffees with a fifth straight series win Saturday at Stamford Bridge.

Including a FA Cup victory over Scunthorpe United last weekend, Chelsea (6-6-9) are 3-3-0 since Mourinho exited the southwest London club Dec. 17. The Blues appeared in line for three points Wednesday at The Bridge before James McClean's equaliser in the 86th minute enabled West Bromwich Albion to salvage a 2-all finish.

''The result is the result," interim manager Guus Hiddink said.

"We're into the next round of the FA Cup and we have the Everton game on Saturday. It would have been the perfect week if we could have won all three, that was the target."

Entering this weekend 14th in the Premier League table, Chelsea are 12 points out of fourth place - the coveted final qualifying spot for next season's Champions League. Though closer to the relegation zone than the top four, the defending league champs won't give up hope of turning around an extremely disappointing season.

''As long as it's possible mathematically to get fourth position we will go for it,'' Hiddink said. ''We have to win all our games, at home at least. We need an average of 2.8 points which is difficult.''

The Dutchman, however, also conceded the other extreme: Chelsea are, in fact, in a relegation battle.

"It's (a) reality," he said before pointing out the position in which he took over the club compared to their current six-point lead over Sunderland and Newcastle United.

"We were one point off the line, relegation line, and now we have (a) little bit more" breathing space.

The Blues have yielded just five goals in the six overall fixtures under Hiddink and recorded three straight clean sheets prior to facing West Brom.

Offensively, Diego Costa's run of four goals in three straight games ended Wednesday. He didn't score in a 3-1 loss to Everton (6-10-5) on Sept. 12.

Steven Naismith recorded a hat trick against Costa and the Blues in that match, but has failed to score in the seven games he's played over all competitions since. A popular subject of transfer rumours, Naismith has apparently fallen out of favor with manager Roberto Martinez and sat while Everton's gone 2-2-0 overall since he last played in a 4-3 loss to Stoke City on Dec. 28.

It's uncertain if he'll see time Saturday when the Toffees try to halt an 0-10-12 stretch over all competitions at Chelsea. Everton, whose only league victory at Stamford Bridge came Nov. 26, 1994, have totaled 16 goals during their winless spell.

"I think when you are a player and on the inside of things, you don't really take too much notice of what's being said about a club," Everton keeper Tim Howard told his side's official website. "When you look at Chelsea's squad list, the names just show you how much quality they have.

"Whether they have come together and gelled as a cohesive unit, on the day that is not something that you concern yourself with."

The Toffees earned a first-leg League Cup win over Manchester City on Jan. 6 and a FA Cup triumph against Dagenham & Redbridge last Saturday, but are winless in three straight top-division matches and 1-5-2 in the league since Nov. 28.

"The games keep coming wave after wave," Howard said.

Everton's run of 15 straight overall matches with a goal ended in Wednesday's scoreless league draw at Manchester City.

Second in the Premier League with 15 goals, Romelu Lukaku has failed to score in three of the last four top-division fixtures after recording at least one in seven straight. The ex-Chelsea striker does not have a goal in three matches against his former side.

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