clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Crystal Palace 0-1 Everton: Five Thoughts

It wasn't pretty, but it's the points the count

Clive Rose/Getty Images

Points above all else

The 3-1 victory over QPR seems a long, long time ago, but that was the last time Everton had won a game of any sort before yesterday's crucial result at Selhurst Park. Inspiring it was not: the performance was shaky; the defending at times heroic, but at this stage of the season that hardly matters.

What do matter are points, and the three gained against Crystal Palace will go a long way towards seeing that Everton's season doesn't end in catastrophe. As it stands, a morale-boosting win, a clean sheet and a pretty much perfect set of results elsewhere in the Premier League made for about as good a weekend as anyone could have hoped for.

Dropping Barkley was the right move

Ross Barkley was finally relegated to the bench on Saturday following a series of disappointing performances, but the move may well be the best thing for all parties. Everton were far more balanced against Palace than they have been with Barkley in the side, with Kevin Mirallas and Aiden McGeady on the wings and Steven Naismith allowed to take up his preferred position through the middle.

And Barkley now has a goal - to earn his place in the side. Being dropped hurts, it's hardly going to boost his confidence, but with the crowd becoming more frustrated with Barkley over the past few weeks, a spell on the sidelines to rest, rejuvenate and re-focus can do no harm.

Lukaku quietly hits double figures

Another week, another game of highs and lows for Romelu Lukaku. He scored the winner, he wasted some crucial chances, he once again excited and frustrated the travelling Everton fans. But significantly, Lukaku's early finish against Palace bumped him up to seven in the Premier League, and into double figures overall.

It might not seem like much, but 10 goals for a player who hasn't consistently hit top form, who has been playing in a pretty poor side all season, and, as people always seem to forget, is still 21 years old is a damn good return. Don't bet against Rom hitting the 20-goal mark by the end of the season.

McCarthy in?

It seems that James McCarthy will be fighting fit for next weekend's Merseyside derby, after only just missing out against Palace, but will Martinez play him? Including the Irishman would likely mean dropping one of Gareth Barry or Muhamed Besic, but while most Evertonians would quite happily see the former benched, Martinez seems averse to leaving Barry out if at all possible.

A lot will depend on the manager's game plan, but with Daniel Sturridge fit again and Liverpool hitting a good run of form, a three-man midfield of McCarthy, Barry and Besic could be an attractive option to stifle the opposition's forward threat.

The goalkeeper question

Another Everton absentee who is close to making his return is Tim Howard, but the American's position seems more uncertain with each passing week. Joel Robles had another decent game against Palace, flapping at a couple of crosses but making some important saves too, while pre-injury Howard had been enduring one of his worst seasons between the sticks.

Personally, I'd still err on the side of reinstating Howard, but I don't think there's much to choose between the pair at present. Either way though, Roberto Martinez's decision will be an interesting one, not only for the derby, but for Everton's goalkeeper situation going forward.