Will James McCarthy make his much-anticipated return to the side?
With the benefit of a week's worth of warm-weather training, team bonding and inward reflection, Everton return to action this weekend for a match that has assumed uncomfortable significance for the club's season as they hover over the escalating scrap to beat the drop at the bottom of the Premier League.
A trip to Selhurst Park to meet a rejuvenated Crystal Palace will not have been high on Roberto Martinez's list of optimal fixtures after the turgid stalemate against West Bromwich Albion in their last outing at Goodison Park, but it's chance for manager and players alike to show that they have the stomach to fight their way back to respectability in the League and then continue their fine form in Europe.
The Blues come into this fixture in 12th place in the table, a position that is deceptively comfortable if you ignore the four meagre points that separate them from the bottom three. Palace, like the Toffees' last opponents, West Brom, have already been forced into a change of manager this season and, yet, they will start the day level on points with Everton.
It brings into sharp focus just how poor Martinez's side have been this season and how urgent is the need to start putting points on the board, not least because the Merseyside derby and a trip to Chelsea loom around the corner.
With no new faces gracing a squad that is now a man lighter following Samuel Eto'o's departure from Sampdoria, the task of carving out what would be only a second win in 14 matches in all competitions falls to the same personnel whose bewildering underperformance has created such dire straits, albeit with perhaps one returning absentee.
Having been declared fit by his manager during the team's Qatar training camp, James McCarthy could make his long-awaited return to the team after missing the past month with a hamstring injury. The recurrence of the complaint and the stop-start nature of his season mean that the club's medical staff have been cautiously nursing him back to fitness but even if he doesn't make the starting XI, he will likely be in the squad.
Should he start, it throws up the question of who would make way in midfield given that Gareth Barry's place in the side seems impervious to form and Muhamed Besic has been growing impressively into his defensive midfield role playing in McCarthy's stead.
Given how willing and able the Bosnian was to get forward and link the play or take shots on goal where his teammates seemed shy, it would not be a surprise to see either Besic retain his place and be pushed slightly forward or for Barry to drop back into a central defensive trio between John Stones and Phil Jagielka.
In either case, Ross Barkley would be the likely casualty but there are plenty of Evertonians who feel the beleaguered midfielder could do with a break from the intense scrutiny that is visibly affecting his form at the moment. A chance to make an impact off the bench as he did against Manchester City eight weeks ago might be just what he needs.
Kevin Mirallas will also be assessed for inclusion after being withdrawn at half time against the Baggies for what his manager said was a hamstring complaint. The Belgian had also complained of pain in the ankle he injured against QPR in mid-December but he should be fit enough to play some part this weekend. Aiden McGeady would be the obvious candidate to deputise should he not make it.
The rest of the side will likely be unchanged, with Joel Robles continuing in goal in place of the injured Tim Howard, where he has been growing in confidence with each passing match, and Steven Naismith playing off Romelu Lukaku up front.
For their part, Palace, on their patch, will pose typically difficult opposition. Buouyed by the return of former player Alan Pardew as manager, the Eagles are unbeaten in six matches since losing at home to Southampton on Boxing Day and are in ominously impressive goalscoring form.
They put four past Dover in the FA Cup, beat Tottenham 2-1 and have won their last two games 3-2. In each of those last three games, they came from behind to win which suggests that even if Everton could get off to a quick start, their hosts will not be easy to to repress.
It is unquestionably going to be a difficult game but if the Blues can show the sort of spirit that almost saw them past West Ham with 10 men in the cup replay earlier this month, then a victory is not beyond them. Defeat, of course, would ratchet up the pressure on Martinez and further reduce his margin for error in a congested bottom half of the table.
Kick off: 3pm
Referee: Roger East
Full coverage: ToffeeWeb Match Reports
Reader Comments (119)
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1 Posted 30/01/2015 at 06:07:48
2 Posted 30/01/2015 at 07:00:54
Can anyone recommend a good pub for before the game?
3 Posted 30/01/2015 at 06:53:42
Multiple slow motion passes between our defenders and the keeper, near our own 18 yard box.....BAD!!!
Rapid movement upfield. Quick, touch passes in and around THEIR 18 yard box.....GOOD!!!
I also hope that while the squad was away, they worked on corners....at both ends of the ground. They better be up for it because Palace sure as hell will be.
4 Posted 30/01/2015 at 07:17:23
Bring me Laughter, all the while,
In this world where we live, there should be more happiness,
So much joy you can give, to each brand new bright tomorrow,
Make me happy, through the years,
Never bring me, any tears,
Let your arms be as warm as the sun from up above,
Bring me fun, bring me sunshine, bring me love.
Right they've had the sunshine, now give me the love.
5 Posted 30/01/2015 at 07:33:23
7 Posted 30/01/2015 at 07:52:36
I would still like to see another manager brought in as I donÂt believe Martinez is the right man. I was one of his biggest fans last year. His inability to change and the dire form of late plus his ridiculous match reports have revealed that Bill got it wrong.
Good luck to all you proper Evertonians who make the journey.
8 Posted 30/01/2015 at 08:24:39
Subs: GK, Distin, Garbutt, McGeady, Barry, Barkley, Kone
9 Posted 30/01/2015 at 08:33:30
Palace will obviously look to come straight at us and our defence will be key. I'd be tempted to play all 3 of Barry, Besic and McCarthy for at least the first hour to keep us as tight as possible in midfield, leaving Naismith out.
We can look to counter throughout and/or open things up a bit with Kone/Naismith after 60-70 minutes. 1-0 will do very nicely.
10 Posted 30/01/2015 at 08:35:11
11 Posted 30/01/2015 at 08:42:08
The time away in the Middle East hopefully, has helped the lads to start playing as a team. I hope Roberto, has decided his formation, because, we cannot go on with round pegs in square holes. It's time for change, before it's too late.
12 Posted 30/01/2015 at 08:49:55
13 Posted 30/01/2015 at 08:46:59
BK may well have put a block on transfers pending decision on Roberto's fate so it will be left to those who have so disappointed to turn the tide.
Barry will, no doubt, return at the expense of Besic but Bobby's pleasure of the performance against Baggies will see us pretty much unchanged.
My gut tells me we are due at least a point Â– although, as ever, I've backed us to win! The downside of that, of course, would be another few weeks of Bobby's bullshit but the point(s) are more important!
14 Posted 30/01/2015 at 09:26:27
Looking forward to tomorrow, not much better than getting on the train at Lime St, and going to watch my team in the Capital.
A scrappy win will do for me, but it's more imperative we just don't lose.
15 Posted 30/01/2015 at 09:35:04
16 Posted 30/01/2015 at 09:32:03
We're 4 points above the drop zone, 5 wins behind the RS. We are a top striker down with Kone mooted as just as good. So, it's gonna be difficult to feel optimistic.COYB
17 Posted 30/01/2015 at 09:49:27
18 Posted 30/01/2015 at 10:01:30
19 Posted 30/01/2015 at 10:12:09
20 Posted 30/01/2015 at 09:50:18
Mirallas, McGeady, Naismith, Distin, Kone.
22 Posted 30/01/2015 at 10:29:12
23 Posted 30/01/2015 at 10:26:55
24 Posted 30/01/2015 at 10:31:15
regarding our "fine form in Europe"... We have 5 London games left this season and they should be the closest we actually get to Europe.
Hopefully after the Young Boys games, the remainder will be the nearest we get.
25 Posted 30/01/2015 at 10:39:55
26 Posted 30/01/2015 at 10:58:05
Coleman Jagielka Stones Baines
Mirallas Barkley Oviedo
Lose this one and surely Martinez will be teetering on the precipice....
27 Posted 30/01/2015 at 10:58:34
Unlike a number of posters on this site, Martinez has refused to blame injuries on the shite we've witnessed thus far! I totally agree with him 100% Â– first time this season!!
28 Posted 30/01/2015 at 11:15:19
29 Posted 30/01/2015 at 11:16:52
30 Posted 30/01/2015 at 11:15:11
If Oviedo starts on the bench with one of Barkley, McGeady or Naismith starting out wide again, I'll.....be very annoyed...
31 Posted 30/01/2015 at 11:40:43
32 Posted 30/01/2015 at 11:45:49
33 Posted 30/01/2015 at 11:25:34
Roberto could be out the door by Sunday morning. I still think he can turn this around, but fear I will lose all confidence in the man if we don't win this - particularly if it's another drab performance devoid of any creativity.
Come on Bobby. Now or never.
34 Posted 30/01/2015 at 12:03:45
35 Posted 30/01/2015 at 12:22:49
Fingers crossed we won't get slaughtered.
36 Posted 30/01/2015 at 12:33:45
37 Posted 30/01/2015 at 12:54:26
I just hope by some miracle that the Everton of last season or the European version turns up tomorrow.
Palace seem to do well against us recently. The last thing we want is Pardew to beat us twice in 6 weeks with 2 different clubs.
38 Posted 30/01/2015 at 13:22:11
39 Posted 30/01/2015 at 13:12:19
Honestly, and trying to be an optimist, I can only see draws tomorrow, against Liverpool and against Stoke. With a home win against Leicester. Costa or no Costa, don't fancy us against Chelsea and I think Arsenal have too much pace for our back line. That would put us on 27 points from 26 games. Not great but only 13 off the safety mark, with 12 games to play.
Right now, I think I would take that. Depressing to even say that, that I will accept 6 points from 18 and 2 wins out of 19 games in total (by that point) but reality is, we just need to stay up this season. Nothing more. Then rebuild in the summer, possibly with a new man at the helm (Howe? McClaren? Laudrup?).
Fingers crossed. Get at them tomorrow with pace and we really do have a chance, as their defence is just massive and slow. Natural width for me, so I would go with
Coleman Stones Jagielka Baines
Mirallas Naismith Oviedo
Don't think Naismith has played particularly well but Barkley has been worse and in a game that will be a bit of a battle, I suspect Naismith will be more up for the fight.
That's my mental rant on a page over!
40 Posted 30/01/2015 at 13:53:22
41 Posted 30/01/2015 at 14:40:07
As for the rest of the lads, I think the performance will be telling. A poor display with little passion will tell us a lot about their state of mind in playing for Martinez.
Finally though, let's not allow this game to be conflated by some into a Barca style encounter. It is Palace with Pardew. On paper, we should smash this. Anything less, even a one-nil win, is below par. After all, if this squad, one of the most powerful in decades, struggles against Palace, the game is up.
42 Posted 30/01/2015 at 14:41:59
We cant afford to lose tomorrow so I would try and keep it tight and hit them on the break.
43 Posted 30/01/2015 at 14:47:37
What's it going to take for this clown to realize that, in terms of style and tactics, we are the most predictable team in the league?
44 Posted 30/01/2015 at 14:17:36
In saying all that, I want Everton to win tomorrow. And I want them to go on a run of wins that takes them clear off the rubbish at the bottom. That is not a conflict of interest. Everton come first at all times. And if that means that Martinez stays at Everton, then so be it.
Although like everyone else I want Martinez to be flexible and from somewhere deep down within him, I want him to change his style. Say when things go wrong, say that he will change things, stop talking crap about not defending and not practising set pieces, stop building up opponents. And just for once say it as it is, No more Bullshit. That stop now.
Time will tell on everything. Can Martinez change?? Here's really hoping that that break has worked. And that Everton can get back on track. As stated on here, we are only playing Palace, not Barcelona. Here's hoping that Martinez and Everton show them no respect, and go for them. No more crap. No more excuses.
Last comment, the team selection should be a guide to Martinez's thinking. We are all crying out for Oviedo to start and bring some balance to the team (and I actually like Oviedo). But does our Manager? Right now I think I would take a 1-0 win. The pretty football can wait until we are safe. Be tight, make no silly mistakes. COYBS.
45 Posted 30/01/2015 at 15:24:28
But knowing RM it will be Barry, McCarthy and he will probably stick with Barkley.
On another note some good news, I see Costa will be banned for our game against Chelsea.
46 Posted 30/01/2015 at 15:33:49
Incidentally I will have a go:
Coleman Stones Jagielka Baines
McGeady Mirallas Barkley
47 Posted 30/01/2015 at 15:39:29
48 Posted 30/01/2015 at 15:28:07
Getting pig sick of all the shite that Martinez is spewing out and just for a second can the guy stop being so fucking nice, I mean it's starting to get like an epidemic, as most of our team are playing like total bitches.
I want a hard bastard manager, a total twat in the middle of the park and some fucker up front who will kick the shit out of the likes of Skrtel. Chelsea paid 㿌M for Costa and we paid 㿈M for Lukaku, now tell me who got best deal.
I can't take much more of this club being so fucking good, we need to put it about on the pitch and our manager needs to start telling some of our players to fuck right off or start playing like they want to wear this jersey.
49 Posted 30/01/2015 at 15:45:01
Coleman Stones Jagielka Baines
Mirallas Barkley Oviedo
Griffiths Hibbert Alcaraz Barry McGeady Naismith Kone
I would then like him to be proactive with his subs by bringing Naismith and McGeady on at around the 60 minute mark to give us fresh impetus.
However I fully expect Barry and Naismith to start in place of Besic and Oviedo. Any subs will be too late if recent history says anything.
50 Posted 30/01/2015 at 15:45:48
He's supposed to watch 20 games a week or something, and study strikers. His touch is bad and he needs to work on that, even though I think that it should be there at his age, but his lack of aggression and nastiness is inexcusable for me. If he came out with Costa's attitude he'd be 10 times more effective.
51 Posted 30/01/2015 at 16:06:13
52 Posted 30/01/2015 at 15:44:51
I want to see the players snapping and snarling, contesting decisions, closing down from the front, marking tight from corners and attacking the ball at corners.
Make no bones about it, we will need to show some mettle down at Palace. The captain needs to lead by example and get into the Ref's ear.
I have no fear about Besic and McCarthy doing it, but the likes of Barkley (too nice by far), Lukaku (ditto), Coleman, Stones and Mirallas need to show us more of their battling instincts from now until the end of the season.
Just talent isn't enough in the Premier League, its time for the 'team' to show big balls for 95 minutes.
53 Posted 30/01/2015 at 16:53:14
54 Posted 30/01/2015 at 17:54:19
55 Posted 30/01/2015 at 18:15:41
After his foolish comments yesterday, I can't see him surviving a defeat. 1 win in 14 is surely curtains for any manager. During my defence of him, I was asked by one of the staunch anti-Bobby brigade, "If not now, then when will you concede he has to go?" My response: "If he hasn't won a game after the Palace game then he MUST go as his record will then be indefensible."
I still want him to succeed. Last chance saloon for me though.
56 Posted 30/01/2015 at 18:24:37
I hope I'm wrong but talk of this as his watershed moment is wide of the mark. We've had the same issues all season. If he could turn it around, he would have done it already.
I'd bite your hand off if you offered me staying up on goal difference. I can't see BK sacking him until it's too late.
57 Posted 30/01/2015 at 18:30:49
Palace are flying under Pardew and we're unlikely to be radically different from recent games, IMO.
A nice holiday in the sun ain't gonna change much, is it?
58 Posted 30/01/2015 at 18:39:37
59 Posted 30/01/2015 at 18:43:00
60 Posted 30/01/2015 at 18:41:19
They will push on hard and stifle us; he reckons we don't have the fight for their physical capabilities and high-tempo game.
Sorry I rang the bastard now... but can't argue with him on any point.
61 Posted 30/01/2015 at 18:51:44
Or I could be the Jonah causing this, I will put us down for a 2-0 loss tomorrow to see if that helps...
62 Posted 30/01/2015 at 18:57:03
63 Posted 30/01/2015 at 18:59:48
Plus I hate that smug twat, Pardew. Please, Everton, let us enjoy a fucking game tomorrow for the first time in months!
64 Posted 30/01/2015 at 20:49:57
65 Posted 30/01/2015 at 20:43:11
No-one gives a toss about style or possession at the minute Â– we just want to create chances and score goals and take three points every week... it's not rocket science!
I have lost total faith in this manager one win in 13 games is a disgrace a pub teams record!
With no Bolasie, I'd go 3-5-2 with:
Stones, Jagielka, Distin
Coleman, McCarthy, Barry, Baines
Shit or bust!
66 Posted 30/01/2015 at 20:58:54
67 Posted 30/01/2015 at 20:56:52
I can't believe people still think we can easily beat Palace, I would've thought on recent form the Palace fans will be looking at this game as a banker. Everton are 25/1 to be relegated with PaddyPower and I think BK has staked all he's got on that outcome so he can finance the new stadium.
68 Posted 30/01/2015 at 21:17:54
So here's to a win tomorrow Â– if the ramshackle class of 98 can do it, surely this team can!
69 Posted 30/01/2015 at 21:30:10
70 Posted 30/01/2015 at 21:47:53
Frugal, yes. Savvy?... eh, not so much.
71 Posted 30/01/2015 at 21:54:08
Here's hoping that fart sack doesn't disappoint!
72 Posted 30/01/2015 at 21:51:18
One possible theory is that BK and the board are reserving as much spare change as they can muster as compensation money for summer in case we do decide to get rid.
Just a theory. Probably utter rubbish. Who knows? No one knows what is happening at this club these days.
73 Posted 30/01/2015 at 22:03:25
74 Posted 30/01/2015 at 21:59:38
Somebody has to pull a rabbit out of the hat against Palace. He might just be the one to do it.
75 Posted 30/01/2015 at 22:05:04
Yeah... not so long ago it was the Championship. An arrogant bellwhiff who needs to remember what stone he crawled out from under. Twat.
76 Posted 30/01/2015 at 22:15:03
Also won 3-1 when Moyes went to five in midfield, that started our run into the Champions League places.
Put an extra flim on that, Phil, you might double your money!
77 Posted 30/01/2015 at 20:15:31
If I am reading the stats right, it is clear that Besic is the least effective of the three. His defensive stats are not nearly as good overall as those of Barry. Offensively, again McCarthy and Barry individually are better overall, except for backward passes.
As a duo, Barry and McCarthy work well together and when you need cover and solid play should be started together. Besic can come in as a late sub when fresh legs are needed along with a probable yellow card. A suggested line-up of
Robles (no other choice)
Baines Jagielka Stones Coleman
Barry Barkley McCarthy
Oviedo (Left) Lukaku (Striker) Mirallas (Right), and Kone, Besic, Garbutt, Naismith, Browning, Gibbo, Stanek on the bench.
Having said all that, watch RM trot out a weird Wigan-like formation with players out of position and three backs.
78 Posted 30/01/2015 at 22:37:43
Please Bobby, give us something to cheer about tomorrow.
79 Posted 30/01/2015 at 22:51:18
80 Posted 30/01/2015 at 22:55:59
His pass stats might be better than Besic but only because Barry usually passes to the nearest player where Besic would be a bit more ambitious.
For me I think Besic has done enough to merit a start alongside McCarthy, plus Barry could do with being dropped for a few games and see if he improves when given his next chance, but I can't see RM doing so.
81 Posted 30/01/2015 at 23:08:19
He's twigged it at last. He's finally realised that we're in trouble. Maybe he's been reading these threads!
82 Posted 30/01/2015 at 23:12:09
83 Posted 30/01/2015 at 23:06:39
My team to face Palace:
Coleman Jagielka Stones Garbutt
Mirallas Barkley Oviedo
84 Posted 30/01/2015 at 23:10:15
Pardew is a total no mark of the first order, "Expansive football" my arse. As karma comes round and it does (however long it takes) he and his small London club will be back in the lower divisions where they belong.
Personal predjudices aside, as Peter@51 says "How many more pivotal games can we have?" Well, lose this one and we all know what awaits.
Firstly safety, then a new manager please; if not, then a new manager please.
85 Posted 30/01/2015 at 23:55:41
86 Posted 31/01/2015 at 04:18:27
At least Pardew's teams have some balls in the mould of their manager. It's like hating Diego Costa for getting stuck into people, when all I see is a quality player who's a throwback to an age of proper footballers who rough up opponents, get under peoples skin, wind them up, scores goals and gets results Â– Evertonians want our players and managers to be mouthy, in your face types, but when others do it they all hate it? Huh?
Someone like Pardew is exactly what we could do with right now and he's just one of so many reasons I fear we'll get pumped again tomorrow.
As I so often say on here Â– I'm usually completely wrong about football results, so fingers crossed eh!
87 Posted 31/01/2015 at 04:24:59
88 Posted 31/01/2015 at 06:09:19
Leaving Newcastle for Palace when he did took a bit of nerve in my opinion. Let's hope his punt isn't further vindicated against us.
On the Barry v Besic thing - I would like to see them both in the team as well as McCarthy. The thing the three of them have in common is they can look after themselves and the rest of the team. That is what is required at the moment and that is definitely what will be required in this game.
89 Posted 31/01/2015 at 07:18:14
I reckon if there is one thing we can take out of this season are that stats are phenomenally shite !
Unfortunately that's part of Martinez' problem as he only appears interested in fucking stats !
We would be top 4 if we won the stats league
It's pointless having 70% possession and hundreds of passes more than the opposition if you don't win - and don't we know !!
90 Posted 31/01/2015 at 08:37:24
91 Posted 31/01/2015 at 09:04:27
92 Posted 31/01/2015 at 09:24:44
Looks like we're on. Tricky fixture. Palace fans are buzzing with optimism and - hate to say it - but they see this as an easy three points. We'll need to defend with more discipline than we've shown so far this season. Oh, and please play the ball in front of Lukaku......he'll score then!
93 Posted 31/01/2015 at 09:45:12
94 Posted 31/01/2015 at 09:25:09
Pardew has half a dozen of his squad unavailable and we are certainly due a win. Such a result would remove Roberto's head from the block but, more importantly, would take us nearer to safety.
So pile on the Blues with 2-0 in our favour the likely outcome.
95 Posted 31/01/2015 at 10:50:44
99 Posted 31/01/2015 at 12:46:13
I have felt more confidence against the likes of the money boys than I have today. Hopefully I will be surprised today.
As the saying goes even a blind squirrel finds a nut occasionally. The manager certainly has blind spots.
100 Posted 31/01/2015 at 12:58:43
101 Posted 31/01/2015 at 13:30:13
102 Posted 31/01/2015 at 13:05:02
Besic's stats aren't going to be pretty, but the mongrel he brings to midfield, for me, isn't something you can really measure.
What I know about today's match:
If Besic doesn't start, RM has lost the plot.
If Oviedo doesn't start, RM has lost the plot.
If Baines is still taking corners, RM has lost the plot.
If the fullbacks don't make runs and put in crosses, RM has lost the plot.
If Kone isn't sold and replaced with anything more animated than a mannequin, RM has lost the plot.
If Mirallas doesn't start, RM has lost the plot and the club is in a very bad situation.
More chance of getting a nine letter word on countdown than having all of the above pan out, I think.
103 Posted 31/01/2015 at 13:31:50
104 Posted 31/01/2015 at 13:57:06
McCarthy fully fit? But hasn't travelled? FFS, what's going on in our club..
105 Posted 31/01/2015 at 14:04:12
106 Posted 31/01/2015 at 14:05:38
107 Posted 31/01/2015 at 14:08:45
108 Posted 31/01/2015 at 14:12:13
109 Posted 31/01/2015 at 14:08:23
110 Posted 31/01/2015 at 14:15:10
111 Posted 31/01/2015 at 14:18:38
Maybe he's off to Spurs!
112 Posted 31/01/2015 at 14:24:24
113 Posted 31/01/2015 at 14:27:06
114 Posted 31/01/2015 at 14:28:22
115 Posted 31/01/2015 at 14:32:02
116 Posted 31/01/2015 at 14:31:56
117 Posted 31/01/2015 at 14:35:04
118 Posted 31/01/2015 at 14:39:08
119 Posted 31/01/2015 at 14:42:45
120 Posted 31/01/2015 at 14:43:21
Don't say that, not even as a joke.
121 Posted 31/01/2015 at 14:42:12
122 Posted 31/01/2015 at 14:44:11
123 Posted 31/01/2015 at 18:18:57
I'm getting a bad feeling that we do not know anything about Jimmy Mac's injury. He brought him back early twice.
124 Posted 31/01/2015 at 19:09:55
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