RBM: It's been an interesting season for both of us. What have you made of both sides campaigns?
HF: Both Everton and Palace have done extremely well considering their circumstances. Roberto Martinez came in during the summer, and had to implement a new playing style, which can be very hard. However, the players seem to have adapted and Everton should be looking at a top four finish at the end of the season. As for Palace, our start to the season was horrendous. But since Pulis came in, the players have been transformed and we are now extremely close to safety.
RBM: Tony Pulis has done a tremendous job in keeping Palace in the league. What was your opinion when he was appointed and what are they now?
HF: I was happy when Pulis was appointed as the Palace manager. He brought with him a reputation of an ‘anti-football’ playing style, but I knew that he would make the defence solid. In his years at Stoke, he had done a fantastic job, and he is doing that at Palace now. We’re coming into this game off the back of three straight wins (and clean sheets) and Palace are extremely close to staying up. One thing I love about Tony is his press conferences. He doesn't rabble on about insignificant subjects, but instead has a calm but assertive demeanour, which is better than the clown we had in Ian Holloway.
RBM: Should we expect a "Stoke City" style display from you tomorrow, or has his style changed? What can we look forward to being up against?
HF: Of course Palace will come into this game and sit deep, allowing Everton to have lots of possession of the ball. But we will be rigid and hard to break down, which is always a positive. At times it will seem like ‘long-ball’ clearances, but Palace break quickly on the counter, and can pass the ball well when in possession.
RBM: Where are the Palace strengths and weaknesses?
HF: Currently, our biggest strength is the defence. Three clean sheets on the trot have helped Palace maintain the 6th best defensive record in the league. The mentality in this game will be if we don’t concede then we can’t lose, so expect the defence to be strong and rigid. Our biggest is scoring. Palace have scored the fewest goals in the league all season, and with players like Cameron Jerome upfront I wouldn’t expect a goalfest!
RBM: Who's your danger man and why?
HF: At the moment, it would have to be out of Bolasie or Puncheon. Bolasie is quick, direct and has some fantastic skills. Puncheon has played fantastically over the past few weeks, scoring plenty of goals, so he would currently have to go down as our biggest threat.
RBM: What about Everton - are you fearful or optimistic? Which of our side are you looking forward to seeing?
HF: Everton are a fantastic side. Unlike Swansea, they actually get somewhere through their passing and possession. I’m looking forward to seeing Ross Barkley play, considering the excellent press coverage he has been getting recently, as well as Seamus Coleman, who is a fantastic right-back.
RBM: Who do you need to stop to get a result?
HF: Romelu Lukaku carries the biggest goal threat in the Everton side. He is tall, athletic and can score goals, so our defence will have a tough time keeping him in check. He was kept quiet in the game back at Selhurst Park in November, and hopefully he won’t play a large role in the game this week.
RBM: Give us your prediction for the game.
HF: This will be a tough game for Palace. We held you to a 0-0 draw earlier on in the season, and I’m going to go for the same result in midweek.
Harry is on twitter - @HarryFairman. Cheers pal!
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