Our writer previews Friday evening contest between Everton and Crystal Palace.
Ronald Koeman’s meteoric tenure as Everton manager has suffered in recent weeks. Defeat to Bournemouth came hot off the heels of a rather depressing League Cup defeat to Championship side Norwich. To add insult to injury, former Toffee Steven Naismith found his name on the scoresheet.
Crystal Palace produced something extraordinary as they rescued their third consecutive victory last weekend. Sunderland looked set to rescue David Moyes from another weekend of awkward prodding and probing in the press box; only for former Anfield star Christian Benteke to score a last-gasp winner. Palace will feel that this may be the perfect time to visit an Everton side experiencing a slight wobble.
Everton v Crystal Palace | Friday 30 September | Goodison Park | 21:00
To Win (90 Mins)
Everton 7/10 | Draw 28/10 | Crystal Palace 15/4
I’m fairly proud of myself for predicting Everton’s downfall at the weekend. I just knew that James McCarthy and Gareth Barry were going to struggle against the speed and athleticism of Bournemouth. And I think that Palace are almost an identical replica of the Bournemouth threat.
The pace in behind of Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend will pose similar threats to that of Junior Stanislas and Callum Wilson. Kevin Mirallas also had something of a shocker at the weekend. I think that Koeman may need to react, a reaction that will likely see the mercurial talent that is Gerard Deulofeu drafted into the side.
Yannick Bolasie’s reunion with his former squad will likely steal much of the pre-game hype. Everton will be hoping that this will give Bolasie some added motivation. Romelu Lukaku’s battle with the central-defensive pairing of Scott Dann and Damien Delaney could prove critical. The Palace pair is perhaps the most underrated duo in the league and also present a potent threat in the opposition box.
Ross Barkley is an interesting enigma. The English midfielder is either brilliant or utterly detached from matches. I will be interested to see if Ronald Koeman can’t see the solution that seems so self-evident to me. Drop him back into one of the two holding roles. He can partner either Barry or McCarthy, adding dynamism to the spine of the side, while getting him on the ball more frequently.
What a few weeks it has been for Alan Pardew’s Palace. There seemed to be little room for optimism following the last minute departure of Bolasie. It actually seemed a matter of time until Pardew got the sack.
Benteke has offered the clinical edge that Connor Wickham simply does not possess, Wilfried Zaha seems to have emerged from a state of hibernation in the last few weeks, while everyone knows what a talented player Townsend is.
I alluded to this earlier, but it’s remarkable how similar the DNA of this Palace side is to Bournemouth. Their pace and athleticism makes them both ideal for counterattacking football, while both sides possess a considerable threat in the opposition box.
Yohan Cabaye has the ability to find control in the midfield of the pitch in a manner similar to Jack Wilshere. I think that this Everton side are always going to struggle against inherently counterattacking units. They need to address the fundamental lack of athleticism in their holding midfield positions. They will likely dominate possession, but I really think that this could be another dose of harsh reality for Koeman.
Verdict: Crystal Palace Win (15/4)
Palace could make it - rather unbelievably - four in a row this weekend. Perhaps this is the perfect time for Alan Pardew to make his case for the highest job in the land. Allardyce’s Shakespearean fall from grace has opened the door for a potential successor to make their case in the upcoming weeks - should the F.A deem Gareth Southgate a stopgap solution. Eddie Howe may still need a few years to hone his skills, and Pardew could be just the right man to galvanize a forlorn national unit.
Written by Damien Kayat @Hollywoodbets