A tale of two John’s dominates the build-up to the Premier League fixture between Everton and Chelsea on Saturday lunchtime.
It is a clash that pits England’s future up against England’s past, yet the two players could so easily have been lining up alongside each other in the Chelsea back four if one of the Blues’ multiple big-money bids in the past fortnight had been accepted. Everton were determined not to let their star asset go so dug their heels in, and the two centre-backs will be on opposing sides at Goodison Park.
Stones is a cultured centre-half and is comfortable bringing the ball out from the back; somewhat of a rarity amongst English defenders. His assured displays at the heart of the Everton defence since he signed from Barnsley in January 2013 mean he is now recognised as one of the most promising central defenders in the Premier League.
Chelsea were desperate to take him to Stamford Bridge in the summer, seeing him as the natural heir to John Terry – Stones even handed in a transfer request, something that Roberto Martinez later described as “a mistake” – but the Toffees refused to budge. Saturday’s game represents a perfect chance for Stones to show Chelsea what they have missed out on.
Terry, on the other hand, is coming to the end of his highly successful career at Chelsea. The 34-year old was superb in Chelsea’s title-winning campaign last term, but has endured a shaky start to the 2015/16 season. Having been withdrawn at half-time in the champions’ heavy 3-0 defeat at Manchester City, Terry was sent off a week later in the 3-2 win at West Brom for pulling back Salomon Rondon. He served his one-match ban as he sat out the 2-1 defeat at home to Crystal Palace last time out.
After a poor start, Chelsea’s skipper needs to lead from the front with the pressure on the Stamford Bridge outfit; a trip to Goodison is never easy, but it would be a huge statement of intent if the Blues got a positive result. Terry would love nothing more than to prove the critics wrong with a commanding display this weekend.