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Crystal Palace vs Everton - Toffees take on Eagles in top of the table clash at Selhurst Park

It’s not often you can say that...

Crystal Palace v Everton FC - Premier League Photo by Action Foto Sport/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Four games, four wins. Carlo’s Royal Blue juggernaut keeps rolling on.

The Toffees have won their first four domestic games of the season for the first time since 1978-79 to send optimism soaring amongst the supporters.

What makes it all the more impressive is the manner of their victories, with 14 goals scored in four games and back-to-back 5-2 wins.

Heady days indeed.

The win against Fleetwood was more comfortable than the scoreline suggests, with only a goalkeeping meltdown allowing the League One side in the game.

Fleetwood Town v Everton - Carabao Cup Third Round Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Defensive errors aside Everton were utterly dominant, playing some wonderful attacking football and demonstrating some strength in depth, with the likes of Alex Iwobi, Bernard, Anthony Gordon and Niels Nkounkou standing out.

Jordan Pickford’s brain fart is a concern given it is now a recurring trend. The England goalkeeper tends to struggle more in games where Everton are on top, which suggests it is a concentration issue.

His standout game this season was against Tottenham, when the opposition had more of the ball in attacking areas.

Thankfully, Everton’s goalscoring exploits means those errors have not proven costly, but it is a rut Pickford needs to lift himself out of, particularly after earning public backing from his manager both immediately post match and again in his pre-match press conference.

Fleetwood Town v Everton - Carabao Cup Third Round Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Everton return to Premier League action on Saturday bidding to win their first three league games of a season for the first time since 1993-94.

Excitement is tempered by remembering Everton ended the 93-94 campaign needing a last-day win to survive. And while things are unlikely to decline that badly, it is a reminder that good starts don’t always translate into good seasons.

That caution is partly down to my in-built Everton defence mechanism. Having watched them flounder for so long, I’m not going to let the excitement at this current side run wild.

But with a home game against West Ham in the League Cup to follow on Wednesday before another home league game with Brighton before the international break, the prospect is there for Everton to make it seven from seven in all competitions to start the season.

Do that then I WILL start to get excited.

The opposition

Manchester United v Crystal Palace - Premier League Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Crystal Palace are on a high themselves after winning their opening two Premier League matches, the latter an impressive 3-1 victory at Old Trafford.

It has boosted morale in south London that had started to flag after a limp end to the restart, the Eagles losing seven straight matches to slump to a 14th-place finish.

Despite that sluggish finale, their form earlier in the campaign ensured an eighth successive season in the Premier League, their best run in the top flight.

Wilfried Zaha is the obvious standout player, with speculation continuing to whirl about his future.

Everton are meant to be interested, but with three years left on his deal Palace can demand a premium and his reported price tag £60 million is enough to put off even the most wealthy of suitors.

It isn’t all about Zaha, though. They have a pacy frontline includes the tricky Andros Townsend and Andre Ayew and a breathless midfield featuring former Toffee James McCarthy.

Everton don’t win very often at Selhurst Park, though they don’t lose many either.

They haven’t lost away at Palace since 1994, though five of the seven last meetings since Palace’s promotion in 2013 have been draws, four of those 0-0.

Previous meeting

Everton 3-1 Crystal Palace - February 8, 2020.

Everton FC v Crystal Palace - Premier League Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Everton briefly rose seventh and raised hopes of a European challenge with a battling victory against Crystal Palace in February. Bernard put the Blues in front in the first half before Christian Benteke levelled shortly after the break. A fine run and finish from Richarlison restored Everton’s lead before Dominic Calvert-Lewin sealed the win late on.

It was also the game where Djibril Sidibe forgot his sock.

Team news

Fleetwood Town v Everton - Carabao Cup Third Round Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Everton have no fresh injury concerns, with Mason Holgate and Jarrad Branthwaite still sidelined.

Fabian Delph made his comeback from injury with 60 minutes against Fleetwood but won’t travel, with Ancelotti wanting the midfielder to have a few more training sessions before returning to Premier League action.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin felt his hamstring against Fleetwood and came off at half-time as a precaution, though he has been passed fit for Saturday’s game.

What they said

Fleetwood Town v Everton - Carabao Cup Third Round Photo by Dave Thompson - Pool/Getty Images

Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti: “We started the season well, with more motivation and ambition,” said Ancleotti.

“We have a good test tomorrow, our target is to think about the game against Crystal Palace.

“They started really well and played a fantastic game against Manchester United.

“Roy Hodgson is a fantastic manager, he knows the Premier League well and built a really strong, well-organised team, using the characteristics of his players.

“I saw the game against Manchester United, they defended really well and were dangerous and fast on the counter-attack.

“[Wilfried] Zaha playing up front, rather than out wide, helped them be more dangerous.

“We have to prepare well and have a good strategy to try to win.

“It will be a difficult game but we have confidence, our momentum is good and we want to keep it good.”

Crystal Palace v Southampton - Premier League Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson: ”I thought they were a little bit unlucky last year not to finish higher than they did, because last year they were a good team, too.

“But there’s no doubt that the players that they’ve brought in this year have made a considerable difference. And of course, getting [André] Gomes back from injury has probably helped as well.

“They’ve added to their attacking threat. Certainly, [Dominic] Calvert-Lewin gets better every year. Richarlison, of course, another one who gets better.”

“They are made-to-measure signings; they are the signings that Carlo has made in tandem with his board of directors, which have filled in the slots that he thought really needed filling in.”

“He [Ancelotti] is a friend from my Italian days, and I am looking forward to seeing him, albeit not so much looking forward to the challenge his team are going to present on Saturday.”

Final word

As exciting as our recent run is, the last three matches were games against inferior opposition that they were expected to win.

Palace, despite their fine start, are not one of the Premier League elite, though they are a significant upgrade on recent games and are both in-form and high on confidence.

Win here and win well, and I might just start to believe something special is brewing at Goodison Park.

Everton v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League Photo by Visionhaus