Crystal Palace vs Everton
Venue: Selhurst Park
Referee: Lee Mason
Crystal Palace will look to dampen Everton’s Europa League ambitions as the two teams clash at Selhurst Park.
Roy Hodgson’s side find themselves rooted firmly in the Premier League’s mid-table. Safe from relegation and unable to reach seventh, there is little left that the Eagles have to play for. A win over Everton, however, would drastically diminish the Toffee’s hopes of Europa League football in the upcoming campaign.
Both sides are in strong form with Palace winning three and losing two of their last five. Meanwhile, Everton have won four of their last five. Perhaps Marco Silva’s side will be the more confident of the two teams having beaten three top six teams in their good run and thrashing Manchester United 4-0.
With Everton’s defensive problems from earlier in the season seemingly fixed, Crystal Palace not only have to contain an in-form attack but they have to breakdown a solid defence. Four clean sheets in their four wins, only conceding twice in their loss to Fulham, makes the Toffees one of the strongest defences in the league this past month.
However, Hodgson’s team and their fast attack may be just what is needed to trouble Silva’s back four. Fulham caused their defence problems with strong hold-up play leading to quick counterattacks, getting in behind Everton’s high pressing full backs. With Palace having players capable of committing to that style of play, they may be able to take all three points.
Christian Benteke got his first goal in a year against Arsenal which could be what the Belgian needed to get himself back in form, but he is also a player capable of holding play up and pressuring centre backs. Along with the always threatening Wilfried Zaha’s pace and skill, the duo could also cause problems for Seamus Coleman. The Ivory Coast international has nine goals this season only scoring less than penalty maestro Lula Milivojevic and he is Palace’s biggest threat going forward.
This game could be won by Palace with quick counter-attacking football but they will have to show defensive strength and keep an attack that have beaten Chelsea, Arsenal and United at bay.
Silva’s side have excellently navigated their way through their toughest run of fixtures despite a blip at Craven Cottage and they will not want to lose focus and slip up now. With three games remaining, they need to play the same exciting football that saw them put four past United last weekend.
With goals from four different players, they will feel that they can score from any position on the pitch and last weekend’s display was their best this season. This could be a worrying time to play Everton but with their tendency to slip into inconsistency, they may put on a performance similar to the one against Fulham.
If they are to avoid a performance such as that, the attack needs to be on form from kick off. Bernard, Richarlison, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Dominic Calvert-Lewin seems to be the preferred starting four now and have proved why all providing goals or assists in their last five games. Palace’s defence could have their hands full if they do show up in their chase for seventh place.
This game is a must win. Palace this week followed by Burnley and Spurs means that Everton have no easy games, but if they are to keep pace with Wolves and Watford who are also teams in good form, they need to return to Goodison with all three points.
Both sides are unlikely to make any changes to their starting lineups as they are both coming off the back of impressive wins over top six clubs and confidence should be sky high.
Everton have to assess Digne and Richarlison but they are both expected to start and Andre Gomes remains suspended. Meanwhile, Jeffrey Schlupp, James Tomkins and Mamadou Sakho all remain out till the end of the season.
Everton have won nine times compared to Crystal Palace’s five when the two have met and five of those nine of come away from home. In fact, Palace only have one win at home against Everton which could be a bad omen for the London club.
Palace have lost three of their last five meetings against Everton drawing the other two and most recently losing in October to two late goals at Goodison Park.
Predicted Starting XIs
Crystal Palace (4-3-3): Guaita; Wan-Bissaka, Kelly, Dann, Ward; McArthur, Milivojevic, Kouyaté; Meyer, Benteke, Zaha
Everton (4-2-3-1): Pickford; Coleman, Zouma, Keane, Digne; Gueye, Schneiderlin, Richarlison, Sigurdsson, Bernard, Calvert-Lewin
Predicted Result: Everton 2 Palace 2
Everton and Palace are both in fine form, and while Everton could be slight favourites, they haven’t fared well under pressure. Therefore could concede a few against Palace but their firepower should also cause an injury-hit Eagles defence some problems.