Perhaps the best news for Everton following the disappointing loss to Spurs over the weekend is that Roberto Martinez's side have only had to wait a few days for the opportunity to make amends. While any real hope of Champions League qualification has faded fast following a stutter in form and the continued excellence of Liverpool, a win against Tony Pulis' resurgent Crystal Palace would go a long way towards steadying the ship.
The consensus following Sunday's game at White Hart Lane was that Everton were comfortably the better side, but lacked the necessary nous up front to make their chances count. With Steven Naismith working hard and playing reasonably well, without mustering any real goal threat, this could be the time that Evertonians finally get to see January signing Lacina Traore in a blue shirt. With Romelu Lukaku still a couple of weeks away from full fitness, the 6ft 8in Ivorian would provide a much-needed focal point for the Toffees attack, though he remains unlikely to start.
Palace were able to give cameo appearance to long-term absentees Glenn Murray and Jerome Thomas at the weekend, further bolstering a squad that was strengthened considerably during the January transfer window. New signings Joe Ledly and Thomas Ince (who was also linked with Everton) both scored on their debuts against West Brom, and will be looking to repeat the feat at Goodison Park.
Keys to the Game
The reverse fixture at Selhurst Park marked one of Everton's worst performances this season, with the Blues lucky to escape with a point after a dire 0-0. That game was Palace's first clean sheet of the season, but they have improved markedly in defence following Pulis' appointment, and with Steven Naismith again expected to start as the sole striker, Everton could struggle to penetrate as they did against Spurs.
Working Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman - now fully fit again - into advance positions where they can slip in behind the Eagles' back line will likely be the Toffees' best plan of action, though Traore's inevitable introduction will offer a more direct Plan B.
- Everton have lost to Crystal Palace at Goodison Park only twice in 13 attempts, in 1992 and 1997, both in the Premier League.
- The Toffees are unbeaten in the last five meetings between the sides, winning three and drawing two.