Everton looked off-colour against Sunderland over the weekend but sneaked by with a close win. Against a Crystal Palace side that were up for the challenge, a poor first hour by the Blues was too much to overcome.
Tim Howard - 7
Little the American goalie could have done on the day. The first and third goals were beautifully curled around his outstretched fingertips, while the thunderbolt second left him no chance to react.
Seamus Coleman - 5.5
Coleman continues to look not at the same pace as the rest of the squad. Too many times passes into space were misplaced, and the few times he did beat his man and get to the byline his crosses didn't get deep enough.
John Stones - 5.5
Could have been higher, but the youngster didn't win too many admirers on the day for his defending prowess. The youngster was out of position on the first goal, badly beaten by Scott Dann for the second goal, fell over to let Cameron Jerome shoot for the killer third. Taking the ball forward though he was Beckenbauer-esque, and will continue to develop.
Sylvain Distin - 6
The elder statesman of the squad plays just well enough to stay out of trouble, but not well enough to make a difference. He was in no-man's land on all three goals, despite being in the vicinity of play on all of them.
Leighton Baines - 6
Baines has also been off the boil defensively lately. For all the good work he did yesterday getting forward and creating chances, he was quite awful while defending. He gave up on Yannick Bolasie allowing him to make the cross that led to the first goal, and was caught out pushing forward to let Jason Puncheon set up the third.
Gareth Barry - 6.5 [off 59']
He looked strangely ineffective without his usual running mate McCarthy on the pitch. Struggled to deal with the physical edge that Palace brought to the game, and seemed to get ruffled easily when he did get the ball.
Ross Barkley - 6.5
Barkley typified the cavalier attitude that Everton brought to the game yesterday. Too often he was unwilling to do the hard work required to protect the ball - not that Palace played above the laws of the game, but they definitely outworked the Blues as a whole.
Gerard Deulofeu - 6 [off 45']
The removal of the Spaniard at halftime was met by some confused looks - he had been the only player who had made any kind of impression in the first half, getting behind the backline and fizzing over some crosses that were never met.
Kevin Mirallas - 7.5
The Belgian was full of running all game long - his benchwarming stints seemed to have done wonders for his energy. The only criticism of his play yesterday was that he tended to roam free all over the place, which did not help build any coherent play as he often seemed to confuse his own players as much as anything else. Did get a very good goal when he skipped past Julian Speroni, but also blazed over twice from very good positions.
Aiden McGeady - 6.5 [off 59']
Had a decent enough game, beating his man more often than not. Doesn't seem to be developing the chemistry with Baines that Steven Pienaar has had over the years.
Romelu Lukaku - 6
Once again Lukaku appeared to be not overly interested in the game. He drifted in and out of the central striker position but was never there to meet any of the crosses that came over. Despite being a physical player, he struggled to shake off the close attentions of the Palace defence.
Steven Naismith - 6.5 [on 45']
We have learned to never doubt Martinez and his substitutions. This was another one of those. Naismith seems to have an uncanny knack for being where the ball will find him, and was wide open to tap in Baines' header back across the goal to make it 1-2.
Leon Osman - 6 [on 59']
Osman was brought on to marshal an increasingly discordant midfield corp, and did just that. Had a good chance to level the game but couldn't keep the snap half-volley down and saw Speroni tip it onto the crossbar.
James McCarthy - 6 [on 59']
McCarthy apparently had a muscular problem and wasn't ready to start the game. It seemed like an excuse for an all-out attack that faltered under the physical approach of the Palace side. Even when the Irishman did come on, it was too late to impose his stamp on the game and he was even on hand to watch Jerome's shot go by him into the bottom right corner for the winner.
Roberto Martinez - 6
The attacking lineup he named looked like a masterstroke, but it was more shambolic than it should have been. There was too much movement between the players but not enough when they had the ball. As the man himself said "I thought in the first half we wanted to win so much that we forgot about the simple basics that you need to do to win a football game."
It wouldn't be a far cry to say that without McCarthy the team forgets its shape and hasn't spent enough time coming up with a Plan B. Martinez was beaten by Tony Pulis who seemed to have his team better prepared for the game at hand.