After a disappointing home loss to Sheffield United The Eagles pay a visit to Everton this weekend.
Last week certainly did not provide the result many fans were hoping for as another tame attacking display at home left Palace with no goals and no points. The Eagles have lost their last two matches and have not won since the turn of the calendar year. The loss saw Palace slip all the way to fourteenth in the table, but still within a wins reach of the top half of the table. The last time the two teams played was a 0-0 draw at Selhurst in August that Everton finished with ten men. Hope could be slim of salvaging some form this weekend though as Palace have not beaten Everton since the fall of 2014.
Everton are still searching for the opportunity to break into the top six of the Premier League, and seem to have squandered it this season with Arsenal and Manchester United underperforming. Instead a terrible start to the season saw the removal of Marco Silva and the eventual appointment of Carlo Ancelotti. The Toffees have shown great improvement since the Italian’s arrival and have only lost one game since Silva’s firing. This climb has put Everton in ninth and looking up the table, instead of down.
Last week saw Roy Hodgson make some surprise line-up choices with Joel Ward, Patrick van Aanholt, Christian Benteke, and Luka Milivojevíc all made their first starts in some time. While Martin Kelly and Jariö Riedewald may be unhappy what many would view as an unfair benching, their chances look slim of returning to the starting line-up this week. One player who may be under threat is Christian Benteke. If Hodgson opts to start Cheikhou Kouyaté or Andros Townsend in the midfield it could push Jordan Ayew to the forward spot, and the Belgian to the bench. Whoever starts in the attacking positions will want to be on top of their game to ensure they are not displaced by on-loan Cenk Tosun when he returns next week after being forced to sit this match out against his parent club.
One of the disadvantages of having three different coaches in a season is a lack of stability in the starting line-up. Only three players have started more than twenty of Everton’s twenty-five matches, with England number one Jordan Pickford being the only ever-present. Since the appointment of Ancelotti, Mason Holgate has been a changed player and emerged as a reliable partner to Yerry Mina in central defense. The midfield has been even more unsettled, and will be without Fabian Delph who is currently suspended due to a red card last week. This will likely see the restoration of Morgan Schneiderlin to the starting line-up. Upfront, Brazilian forward Richarlison continues to rival Wilfried Zaha as one of the best attacking players outside the Big Six clubs.
Despite not having kept a shutout since early December, Palace still have one of the best defensive records in the league. The back line will have to travel to Goodison Park with top form to shutout, not only Richarlison, but breakout forward Dominic Calvert-Lewin. The young Englishman has solidified a spot in the starting line-up this season and has already well surpassed last season’s goal total, with ten goals in twenty-two games. Gylfi Siguròsson remains a dangerous playmaker from the midfield, capable of creating his own shot or setting up one for his teammates. These attacking threats will make the defensive work of the Palace midfield even more important to limit forward passing lanes and prevent The Toffees from breaking down Palace.
Both of these teams appear to be headed in opposite directions. Palace come into this game likely low on confidence, especially after seeing one of this season’s top performers, Vicente Guaita, score a howler of an own goal last week. The teams have drawn frequently in recent years and Palace’s away form could give them hope of salvaging a draw in this match. Any fans traveling North this weekend should expect a tough trip home.