Everton will travel to London on Saturday with mixed emotions. Whilst a draw against a talented Tottenham side last Sunday is not to be sniffed at, there will certainly be a sense that three points could have been gained to go second in the table. Following a poor first half where the visitors dominated, a spirited second half performance was deserving of more than the point that was eventually achieved.
Crystal Palace meanwhile are still under the stewardship of caretaker manager Keith Millen following Ian Holloway's departure last month. Currently sitting 20th in the table, with only one win to their name, a goal difference of minus fifteen and on a losing streak of seven games coming into this fixture, their confidence is low. They will also not be boosted by the fact they are the joint lowest scorers in the league and were easily beaten by West Brom last Saturday.
Everton are still without Arouna Koné, who has a knee injury and looks set to miss the majority of the season. Antonlin Alcaraz, who has a groin/pelvis injury, is expected to return later in the month. Johnny Heitinga and Tony Hibbert are both lacking match fitness but could feature on the bench. Darron Gibson is of course absent, whilst there is also a doubt over Romelu Lukaku after his collision with Hugo Lloris, though it is unlikely he will miss out.There is also some concern over James McCarthy. The midfielder is currently one yellow card away from missing the derby next weekend, so this could have an impact upon Martinez's selection.
Crystal Palace are still without last season's top goal scorer Glenn Murray with his knee injury. Adléne Guédioura was forced off against West Brom last weekend and scans have revealed he broke two ribs and punctured his lung so will be missing for six weeks minimum. Patrick McCarthy is unfit whilst Jonathan Williams and Jack Hunt are both out long term.
Keys to the Match
If Everton play the type of fast possession football we have seen in the wins over Newcastle and Aston Villa, there is every chance they could run away with this game. Romelu Lukaku will not be up against the same standard of defenders as Tottenham's and could use his strength to bully the Crystal Palace back line. Everton must however avoid using long balls to the Belgian too often, as they did against Spurs, and try to vary their play. Everton's attacking midfield trio of Osman, Pienaar and Mirallas were poor on Sunday, but will be afforded more time and space on the ball at Selhurst Park as the hosts are likely to sit deep and play on the counter. Gerard Deulofeu looked lively when he came on last weekend and could replace either Mirallas or Pienaar if needed.
As mentioned earlier, Palace are likely to sit deep and try to hit Everton with counter attacks. There is the chance they can exploit Everton from the full back positions with Baines and Coleman likely to be pushing forward at every given opportunity. Coleman will be seen as something of a liability after conceding penalties against Aston Villa and Manchester City, and luckily getting away with doing the same against Tottenham. Against Arsenal two weeks ago Crystal Palace played on the counter often, with one such occurrence leading to Mikel Arteta's sending off, and were unlucky to lose to the Gunners after a spirited display.
On paper, this should be a comfortable win for Everton against a side who are struggling in the Premier League. The visitors will hope to have more time on the ball to play the style of football their manager likes, and avoid the use of long ball football that they were too often reliant on against Spurs. Arguably Everton's back line should not be troubled by Palace's attacking players, namely Marouane Chamakh, but will need to be wary all the same. In the past, this was too often the type of game Everton had the potential to lose and although there are no easy games in the Premier League, if Everton hope to achieve their Champions League ambitions this season then these are the type of games that they need to be winning.
- There have only been 37 meetings between these two clubs, with Everton winning sixteen of them. They last met eight years ago on 10th April 2005.
- The last time these two teams met, a certain James Vaughan scored the fourth goal in a 4-0 win to become Everton's youngest ever goal scorer.
- Everton last lost to Crystal Palace on 9th August 1997. They last lost at Selhurst Park in 1994, 19 years ago.
- This is a meeting of polar opposites when it comes to losses. Everton have the joint fewest in the league so far, one, compared to Crystal Palace having the most with nine.
- Tim Howard has five clean sheets in ten Premier League appearances so far whilst Julian Speroni has none in the same period.
- Romelu Lukaku has five goals in 501 minutes for Everton, Palace's leading goal scorer Dwight Gayle has two in 546 minutes.
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- Arouna Kone set to miss the rest of the season with knee injury