Everton will be without James Rodriguez, the star playmaker, as Carlo Ancelotti takes on his old Chelsea club on Saturday.
In last week’s 1-1 Premier League draw at Burnley, James, 29, suffered a slight calf problem and has not practiced this week.
Everton lost their last two home games to Leeds United and Manchester United, falling to ninth in the table in the early stages of 2020-21 after leading the standings.
Since 2006 with Milan, Ancelotti has not lost three straight home league games as boss, though March 2016 was the last time it happened for Everton.
At Goodison Park, they will now aim to escape that fate against the in-form Chelsea side, who are sitting third in the table.
Ancelotti said at his pre-match news conference, “We have James out – he had a little problem in the game against Burnley,”
He was unable to practice this week and I think he’s going to start practicing next week. We don’t want to take a chance for this game.
“After the game against Burnley, he had a charge on his calf muscle. Nothing unusual, but he was not able to practice.
“We have to look at him for the game to see if he will be able to train and play against Leicester [City, on Wednesday].”
Everton manager Ancelotti, like James, ruled out captain Seamus Coleman and midfielder Fabian Delph, who had both hoped to feature, although longer-term absentees are Lucas Digne and Jean-Philippe Gbamin.
The Italian said I’m not used to complaining about players who are not available. “The players that are available are well qualified and in good shape.
We understand that not only on Saturday but at this time of December, there will be a significant moment and a test.
“So, I think we arrive at the game with confidence and motivation.”
Ancelotti is going to fight with his former player, Frank Lampard, who impressed Chelsea under his stewardship.
From 2009 to 2011, he was in charge of 76 Premier League matches with Chelsea and Lampard appeared in 60 of those, scoring 32 goals.
In the Premier League, only under Jose Mourinho did Lampard score more (49 in 140 appearances).