The Brentford loss was a damaging one for Everton, and yet a win against Crystal Palace essentially means that all can be forgiven from the massive letdown of just days ago. The Toffees have everything to play for in the second to last Premier League contest of the season, but Palace and Patrick Vieira do still have ambition for a top-ten Premier League table finish.
Big matches will be needed by Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison, Anthony Gordon, Abdoulaye Doucoure, and Jordan Pickford, and the defense will have to be stouter than they were against the Bees, particularly in the second half of that match.
Ahead of Thursday’s match, we spoke to Jay from the Palace site The Eagles Beak:
RBM: First off, as the season draws to its close, what is the feeling around the club after the first year of the Patrick Vieira era?
It is one of satisfaction as many were hoping for survival in this first season with Vieira in charge but it has been much better than that. An FA Cup semi-final and a season that has not seen us anywhere close to the relegation battle has to be seen as a success and it must be enjoyed before looking ahead to next season and the summer build-up to that.
He has done incredibly well in his first season at Selhurst Park, which was no easy task but he has surprised many, and when you consider that he was the bookies' favourite to be the first PL manager to be sacked this season, that says it all. He was very sensible in his recruitment of backroom staff and the additions in lead up to this season were very impressive as it has turned out. Not only that, he has us playing exciting football which makes a very pleasant change!
RBM: What progress has been witnessed over the short reign of Vieira, and what has this team improved at since last we spoke?
Playing exciting football first and foremost and we have seen a number of improvements as the season has gone on. We are not kidding ourselves, Vieira is a manager in his infancy and has plenty to learn but he’s addressed a few things as the season has gone on which has been impressive.
He has some way to go of course but we are with him on the journey and we have all bought into the new era at the club. We are excited to see what his plans are for the summer in terms of recruitment as he did not has a huge amount of time last summer when you consider when he was appointed.
RBM: What types of moves, and in which areas will Palace look to make this summer; furthermore, how will they deal with the names they already have who might wish for more playing time or a change of scenery?
I think the most important thing is that Vieira has the players at the club at the moment all bought into his methods so I would be surprised to see anyone want to leave other than fringe players such as Martin Kelly and Jairo Riedewald. There is a question mark over Luka Milivojevic who has had less game time this season for different reasons but we do not expect wholesale changes, it is more about strengthening the squad in a few areas such as back-ups at the centre-back position and full back areas.
It is likely that there will be a search for a replacement for Conor Gallagher, unless we are able to work some magic and secure him for another season on loan or even better, a permanent deal but neither is likely. That will be the challenge after what has been a great season for the Chelsea man.
RBM: Are expectations going to be higher going into next season after the innovations in playing style that has been witnessed this year by supporters? What might those expectations be if you had to prognosticate?
Possibly, but that is always dangerous isn’t it? This season was all about the transition so next season should not be too much different but maybe there is a shift in that view of what this side is capable of and a top ten finish is a real possibility if this season is anything to go by. I think most Palace fans are looking forward to being entertained again next season and seeing where that takes us.
RBM: How do you expect Palace to set up on Thursday, and which of Palace’s players do you think can cause Everton the most issues in the tie?
As the season comes to a close it could be that Vieira shuffles his pack again for this one as he did at Aston Villa at the weekend, with not too many injury concerns.
Wilfried Zaha will always be a threat, and most likely will become the pantomime villain which happens most weeks, but Eberechi Eze has been great in recent weeks too, even though his introduction back into the first team has taken some time following a lengthy injury. His touch and passing are sublime, and depending on where Vieira decides to play him, he could be the man to really cause Everton problems along with Zaha. If Olise returns from injury, you could see all three lining up against you and another player who can do something out of nothing.
RBM: Finally, what’s your prediction for Thursday’s match?
This is a very tough one to predict, and I don’t buy into the ‘teams on the beach’ comment which seems all too common in the media. Vieira wants a top ten finish which is still possible which will cap his first season at the helm, and Palace heads into the game unbeaten in four. I suspect it will end up in an entertaining 2-2 draw which will edge Everton closer to safety yet damage Palace’s hopes of a top ten place.
Our thanks to Jay for his time.