After a generally positive start to life under Sean Dyche, last week’s woeful defeat at home to Fulham was a shrieking alarm for anyone snoozing on our relegation fears.
Everton are in big, big trouble.
The Blues are on level points with 18th place and just four points clear of bottom. It’s looking increasingly like this will be a five-way scrap to stay away from the three relegation spots.
Just seven games remain, but with tricky home fixtures against Newcastle and Manchester City, plus some eternally difficult away fixtures, picking up at least something at Crystal Palace is of paramount importance.
So, how will the Mighty Blues of Everton line up?
Let’s take a look…
Sean Dyche has certainly brought a sense of calm to Goodison Park since his arrival – which is very much what the club needs right now.
And I’ve been especially impressed with how he’s taken Dominic Calvert-Lewin completely away from the first-team picture for the past couple of months in order to try and get him truly fit for when we need him most.
In a results business such as this, and with Everton’s need particularly great, this kind of level-headedness and relatively long-term thinking is most welcome.
And the good news is that DCL is “certainly in the thinking” for this weekend’s squad. I’d be astonished to see him start, but his presence on the bench would be huge – especially if we fall behind.
Amadou Onana has also been back in training this week, which is a huge boost, while Seamus Coleman and Ruben Vinagre are both out injured, as is Andros Townsend, whose Everton career is likely over.
Abdoulaye Doucoure serves the last of his three-match suspension.
EVERTON SQUAD AVAILABLE VS PALACE
Goalkeepers: Pickford, Begovic, Lonergan,
Defenders: Keane, Mina, Godfrey, Tarkowski, Holgate, Coady, Mykolenko,
Coleman (INJURED), Patterson, Vinagre (INJURED), Welch, Samuels-Smith
Doucoure (SUSPENDED), Iwobi, Davies, Onana (DOUBT), Gueye, Garner, Price
Townsend (INJURED), McNeil, Mills
Attackers: Calvert-Lewin (DOUBT), Maupay, Simms
Tactics and Formation
Dyche was forced into a few changes last week and after a pretty dreadful performance, we’ll likely see more this week.
The certainties to start are Jordan Pickford in goal, and likely Michael Keane and James Tarkowski at centre back, Alex Iwobi and Dwight McNeil on the wings, with Idrissa Gueye in the middle.
Elsewhere, it will likely be Vitalii Mykolenko at left-back and Ben Godfrey at right-back, unless Nathan Patterson gets the nod.
In the middle, Amadou Onana will likely reclaim his place from James Garner.
Demarai Gray will likely feature in an advanced role and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ellis Simms lead the line in place of the hapless Neal Maupay.
Starters (likelihood of starting rated out of 10)
Jordan Pickford – 10/10
Ben Godfrey – 7/10
Vitaliy Mykolenko - 7/10
James Tarkowski – 9/10
Michael Keane – 9/10
Amadou Onana – 7/10
Idrissa Gana Gueye – 9/10
Dwight McNeil – 9/10
Alex Iwobi – 9/10
Demarai Gray – 8/10
Ellis Simms – 7/10