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Everton seek to avoid a post-City hangover against big Sam’s Palace

Toffees face tricky trip to Selhurst Park

Crystal Palace v Bolton Wanderers - The Emirates FA Cup Third Round Replay Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images

You’re thinking it too aren’t you?

Because I know I am.

It would be just typical, wouldn’t it?

After the dizzy delight of last weekend’s result against Man City - one of the most memorable afternoons Goodison has witnessed in recent years - it would be classic Everton if they went and lost at struggling Crystal Palace.

We all fear such an eventuality because it has happened so many times before. A infuriating bargain whereby Evertonians can only experience joy if pain and disappointment is inflicted a few days later.

The hope is that those days will soon be behind us given the winds of change blowing through the club. It may take slightly longer for the fans to shake off that mentality, however.

Trying to remain positive and last week’s performance could prove to be a welcome springboard for the remainder of the season.

Everything about the display was perfect, with every member of the team playing their part.

Koeman’s 5-3-2/3-4-3 formation also seemed a an ideal match for the personnel available and should be utilised for the rest of the season.

Then there is the emergence of Tom Davies, a new scouse hero in royal blue. His life was transformed almost overnight thanks to his spectacular goal last weekend as he was thrust into the public spotlight.

The challenge now for the teenager is to cope with the added attention, from the media, supporters and over-aggressive opponents.

With nothing but the league to focus on and seventh place looking the most likely finishing spot, Ronald Koeman needs to use these five months to refine his squad and tactics.

Then when the summer window opens both he and Steve Walsh will know exactly the sort of player they need and avoid the desperate and ultimately fruitless scramble for new faces we witnessed last August.

The opposition

I’m sure Sam Allardyce is still wondering just what the hell happened last September, when his dream job was snatched from him in the most brutal of circumstances.

Allardyce had waited all his career to land the England job but would never even have the chance to lead them out at Wembley.

The 62-year-old had little choice but to stand down after he was caught up in a tabloid sting, though by claiming that “entrapment has won”, he certainly harbours some resentment at how he was ousted from the top job.

The result was one of the most experienced managers being plunged back onto the market, leaving bosses at the league’s struggling clubs nervously looking over their shoulders.

In the end it was Crystal Palace who opted for Allardyce’s services shortly before Christmas. Alan Pardew, who led Palace to the FA Cup final last season, was sacked with the club 17th in the table after a run of one win in 11 games.

Allardyce’s reputation as a Premier League firefighter and proud reputation of having never been relegated from the top flight led to many tipping the Eagles to quickly take flight.

It hasn’t quite worked out like that though, with the club losing three and drawing one of his three league games in charge so far.

Allardyce finally collected his first win in charge against Bolton in the FA Cup in midweek, but he will know his side need to urgently pick up league points if they are to move away from the danger zone.

Team news

Leighton Baines is expected to be fit for the game at Selhurst Park despite suffering from a rib injury.

Maarten Stekelenburg is also fit again but Koeman hasn’t said whether he will replace the in-form Joel Robles in goal.

January signings Morgan Schneiderlin and Ademola Lookman are pushing for starts after impressing from the bench last week.

Palace are without Wilfried Zaha and Bakary Sako who are both away on international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations. New signing Jeffrey Schlupp could make his debut after joining from Leicester.

James McArthur, Fraizer Campbell and Scott Dann are all set return from injury while former Liverpool striker Christian Benteke is likely to start up front.

Final word

If Everton can maintain the momentum gained from last Sunday’s win then they are more than capable of picking up a result. However, Big Sam’s aggressive, direct style is in sharp contrast to last week’s opponent and will represent a significant challenge.

Therefore even a point shouldn’t be considered a bad result.

Expected starting XI: Robles, Baines, Holgate, Williams, Funes Mori, Coleman, Davies, Barry, Barkley, Mirallas, Lukaku.