Leighton Baines is a slight doubt with a rib injury
Even if you believed that Everton's season was effectively over following the FA Cup defeat to Leicester — let's face it: very little in the Premier League is over with 18 games to play — there were still opportunities for the Blues to enjoy some memorable matches and to take the odd scalp along the way as Ronald Koeman continues to mould his team.
More than just an enjoyable victory over an expensively-assembled, title-chasing team, last weekend's thrashing of Manchester City was part statement, part revelation and all joy and, coupled with Manchester United's failure to win, it narrowed that yawning chasm between sixth place and seventh to seven points. Still a sizeable gap, of course, but nothing a run of victories wouldn't eventually close.
Therein lies the rub, of course. Sunday's victory marked the first time Everton have won successive Premier League games since September. Back then, the 3-1 win over Middlesbrough was their fourth win on the bounce and enough to take them second but it's largely been a tale of frustration ever since. They need to start winning regularly and a run of matches against teams below them presents the ideal opportunity.
Starting with the triumph over Arsenal a month ago, there has been a growing sense that Koeman is getting to grips with the Everton job, has identified his most reliable players and the best systems to get the most out of them. What was perhaps missing from game to game was the belief and mentality that they could win — those qualities were wholly absent in the Merseyside derby, where the Blues were almost non-existent as an attacking force, and they evaporated when Ahmed Musa scored twice for Leicester City in the FA Cup earlier this month.
If the 4-0 crushing of Man City does nothing else, it should instill confidence in a team that is beginning to acquire some swagger, not least because of the presence of a certain 18-year-old dynamo whose belated return to the first-team picture has coincided with the emergence of more drive in the middle of the park.
Tom Davies made only his third league start last weekend but by the final whistle he had stamped his authority all over the best performance under Koeman so far. With Idrissa Gueye on international duty now until early February at least — unsurprisingly, Senegal have qualified for the next phase of the Africa Cup of Nations — and Morgan Schneiderlin looking like he will need some time to get back to match sharpness, the teenager's coming of age has come at just the right time.
The danger, of course, is putting too much expectation on those young shoulders and Koeman will be aware of that so it will be interesting to see whether Davies is in the starting line-up for the fourth game running now that James McCarthy is fit again or whether he will be named as a substitute with the potential to impact the game off the bench.
The hope is, of course, that the manager opts for consistency in selection and names either an unchanged line-up or one very close to it for the game against Crystal Palace this weekend. That would mean retaining Joel Robles in goal at the expense of Maarten Stekelenburg and confirming a change in stance from Koeman over his preferred first-choice goalkeeper. Robles has admitted that the Dutchman informed him over the summer that he would be No.2 but, once again, the Spaniard has bided his time and taken the chance to impress afforded by injury to the man in front of him in the pecking order.
It would also mean Gareth Barry starting a third match in succession and it would require Leighton Baines overcoming a slight rib injury. Koeman indicated in his pre-match press conference that he expects the fullback to be fit to play but it presents an interesting team-selection decision should he not make it. Baines was nominally deployed as a wing-back against Man City to the left of three centre backs and Bryan Oviedo would be the obvious replacement but he has been out of favour recently.
Crystal Palace, for their part, come into this game mired in a relegation fight brought on by a run of just one win in 15 league games without a win which started in the reverse fixture between these two clubs at Goodison Park at the end of September. It cost Alan Pardew his job and while he picked up his first win since taking the hot seat at Selhurst Park in an FA Cup replay on Tuesday, Sam Allardyce is still searching for his first league win as the Eagles' boss.
Normally that is “cue Everton” but hopefully the Blues' new-found resolve and confidence will see them compound Big Sam's problems by collecting their third win on the bounce.
Kick-off: 3pm, Saturday 21 January, 2017
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Last Time: Crystal Palace 0 - 0 Everton
Predicted Line-up: Stekelenburg, Coleman, Holgate, Williams, Funes Mori, Baines, Barry, Davies, Barkley, Mirallas, Lukaku
Full details: ToffeeWeb match page
Reader Comments (81)
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1 Posted 20/01/2017 at 07:14:09
I think we may need Schneiderlin's physical presence in midfield. Bring on Barry for the last 20 mins.
2 Posted 20/01/2017 at 07:33:39
Holgate, Williams, Funes Mori
Coleman, Davies, Schneiderlin, Baines (c)
Subs: Stekelenburg, Jagielka, McCarthy, Barry, Lennon, Lookman, Valencia.
3 Posted 20/01/2017 at 07:44:23
4 Posted 20/01/2017 at 07:47:25
5 Posted 20/01/2017 at 07:53:50
Could also be the Dutch factor at play â€“ he knows and trusts Stekelenburg. Doesn't mean it would be the right decision, of course. Robles has more than earned the right to start.
6 Posted 20/01/2017 at 08:10:09
I also expect Barry to start. He looked solid against Man City and I doubt Schneiderlin has full match fitness or sharpness yet.
7 Posted 20/01/2017 at 08:30:03
But this will be a test to see if we can do it regardless if opposition, because if we put a run together, who knows.
8 Posted 20/01/2017 at 08:40:38
[Just want to get back to familiarity.]
9 Posted 20/01/2017 at 09:23:30
We are the big team today and Palace are looking to be giant slayers so a totally different game than last week and it will be absorbing to see if we can despatch both top and bottom teams with the same dedication, willpower and application.
UP THE BLUES
10 Posted 20/01/2017 at 09:24:12
You'd hope the players would be up for it but we've generous over the last few seasons in helping out teams looking for a win. COYB!!
11 Posted 20/01/2017 at 09:24:21
That's usually the Everton way...
12 Posted 20/01/2017 at 09:36:16
Right after Ronald "Big Mouth" Koeman announced to the press that our team wasn't good enough to make top 4. And then the team morale plummeted and we started losing to relegation fodder squads. I wonder if that's a coincidence?
13 Posted 20/01/2017 at 09:38:24
The other concern is whenever we play a team who haven't won for a while or the striker hasn't scored for months, you just know being Everton they will break their duck against us. Tomorrow we have Allardyce not having won a league game since arriving at Palace.
I hope we stick to 3 at the back tomorrow and not revert to a flat back 4, this system seems to suit us better. It allows Coleman and Baines to get forward more often and it also allows them a starting position 15 yards further up the field. Plus it means we can play someone closer to Lukaku and he always seems happier when that happens.
14 Posted 20/01/2017 at 09:58:39
You want to sack the manager after half a season and get back to familiarity. Which familiarity would that be Gordon Lee? Billy Bingham? Walter Smith? Colin Harvey? Joe Royle? The Belgian Shoe Salesman? Not mentioning the deceased ex managers for obvious reasons or Mike Walker for obvious reasons.
15 Posted 20/01/2017 at 10:12:41
Think Dann is actually out for the season injured isn't he? They're missing Zaha to the AfCON too who was on form so this has to be a win if we've got anything about us.
Last week was beautiful but as much an apology for going out of the Cup as anything else. Back to the mundane business of trying to put away one of the 13 pub teams beneath us.
Just Do It!
16 Posted 20/01/2017 at 10:26:22
17 Posted 20/01/2017 at 10:30:45
18 Posted 20/01/2017 at 10:31:34
19 Posted 20/01/2017 at 10:50:23
20 Posted 20/01/2017 at 11:04:55
I don't think it matters too much if one or two are rotated as long as the team are up for it but I would like to see Robles and Tom Davies retained in the 3-5-2 formation which I was never a big fan of but it does seem to suit our players especially Bainesy and Seamus.
21 Posted 20/01/2017 at 12:26:46
We have, unfortunately, over the last few seasons, beaten both the odds, and the bigger teams, to follow up by playing the bottom teams and losing convincingly!
22 Posted 20/01/2017 at 12:36:45
Palace under Allardyce will be a different conundrum. We'll need midfielders to drive forward with the ball and be the one to spring the attack, which I'm hoping Schneiderlin can offer. (Obviously if he isn't match fit the decision is out of our hands.)
On another note, after our centre backs pick up their man at set plays Barry seems to get 'the next biggest'. I don't think he's been particularly great at this all season to be honest. Allardyce will have been concentrating on set plays all week in training so we'll need to be on our mettle.
Up the Toffees!
23 Posted 20/01/2017 at 12:39:26
Benteke playing gash, Fat Sam hasn't won in the league
Step up Everton FC and away we go!!!
Need to stop the crosses, as Benteke always loves scoring headers against us and the crosses on Sunday were still there and telling, what with Stirling and Silva receiving crosses and being unmarked in the area.
On performance, Robles has to start, had a great game Sunday, particularly his closing down and block for the Silva moment mentioned above.
Saying that, 1-0 to the Eagles,because we are Everton!!
24 Posted 20/01/2017 at 12:46:34
An early goal for us tomorrow and Palace should collapse.
25 Posted 20/01/2017 at 12:50:14
26 Posted 20/01/2017 at 13:05:42
If we can go a goal up early doors then I think they'll just fall apart. If not then expect an afternoon of bus parking and frustration.
27 Posted 20/01/2017 at 13:21:38
Koeman announced he will have his own squad by the end of the next transfer window, so a lot of incentive for the fringe players to make sure they're involved.
The counter attacking style employed last week should work again if Palace do try and boss the game.
I'd like to see Robles continue, he looks easily as good as Stek who's made several big bloopers this season already. I don't see how just being No 1 means you always play especially if No 2 is on form.
2-0 to us.
28 Posted 20/01/2017 at 13:27:07
We need to stop the crossed coming in as much as possible and when they do come in make they are from deep. Robles is big and pretty decent and coming out to take high balls.
They are in bad form and we need to stamp our cold boots down on their unconfident little necks and not let up till it's over! First goal could be crucial so let's hope we see a rare bright start and pick up from where we left off vs City.
29 Posted 20/01/2017 at 15:24:03
Anyway same team, another 4-0. Bring it on. Coyb..
30 Posted 20/01/2017 at 15:31:14
Same three points.
31 Posted 20/01/2017 at 15:38:07
32 Posted 20/01/2017 at 15:50:29
I agree about Barry and marking. He actually let Silva go before the pass that Robles came out for. You can see on the video that Funes Mori had checked that Barry had him as Silva came into the box. Funes Mori then turns to face the ball threat and Barry just stopped, despite being able to see him turn.
It looked like Barry thought Silva was in an offside position. He would have been correct but for Holgate failing to check his defenders behind him and stepping backwards and goalside of his marker, putting Silva onside. A youthful mistake by Holgate covered well by Robles.
As for Robles, he seems more comfortable in a back three where he knows he has to come out and cover more area. A lot of the decisions are already made for you as a goalkeeper in such a set-up so there is less thinking involved and more reaction. He is better than Stekelenburg and should therefore be number 1 for this team until a true Number 1 is brought in.
As for the clean sheets, he is facing a lot fewer shots than last year, per the stats per game. Plus, the addition to the defense by the subtraction of Stones hasn't hurt either. Interesting that Stones is currently making another set of keepers and a defense look poor.
33 Posted 20/01/2017 at 15:54:23
Dermot (#25), thanks for scampifying this thread.
34 Posted 20/01/2017 at 16:02:32
I quite liked Palace before; not now. I hope we thrash them and they get relegated.
As for tomorrow's team: why change the winning formula from last week?
35 Posted 20/01/2017 at 16:05:32
Anyone else heard of him and/or the rumour?
36 Posted 20/01/2017 at 16:15:13
37 Posted 20/01/2017 at 16:17:17
You don't change a winning formula because of friendships. The team should be allowed to continue.
By the way, Berahino going to Stoke is a loss for us. He is a no-brainer signing and did anyone see Fabrizio Ravanelli on Sky Sports today? he's turned into Sid Little... ha ha. I expect 1-3 tomorrow, maybe 0-3
38 Posted 20/01/2017 at 16:36:25
Palace are in a dire situation with 1 point off relegation position, while collecting just 1 point since Allardyce was appointed as manager 5 games ago. Yet, if Everton attack Palace down the middle, they are very vulnerable, as shown in their match last week against West Ham away.
39 Posted 20/01/2017 at 16:39:57
40 Posted 20/01/2017 at 17:07:17
If we have a meritocracy then I want to see Robles keep his place. He has dealt well with crosses, and Benteke thrives on them.
41 Posted 20/01/2017 at 17:10:51
42 Posted 20/01/2017 at 17:46:33
We haven't been awe inspiring in the final third of the field so far this season.
Team selection will be key. Get it right and it should be a fairly easy three points.
43 Posted 20/01/2017 at 18:18:34
44 Posted 20/01/2017 at 18:32:15
"Of course every manager is going to want time not only to implement their philosophy and ideas but to shape the squad.
"All in all he will probably say come the start of next season this is my team and his stamp will be fully on it"
Article goes on to say Baines knows that by the start of next season The Everton manager will have formed a team and a squad in his own image.
Pretty much what some of us on ToffeeWeb have been saying for some months now.
45 Posted 20/01/2017 at 18:40:29
Goalies, like every footballer, will never be perfect in every game or make 'miracle' stops on a regular basis but as the last line of defence they face largely unjust criticism if they do slip up.
Not too long ago a certain local teams supporters were unanimous in wanting their 'keeper hung drawn quartered and banned for life from the city for 'errors'; he is now one of their most reliable servants and has saved them from embarrassment time after time.
I can't remember his name or who he plays for... Just that he's French.
46 Posted 20/01/2017 at 18:44:09
Daryl @ 42 "Team selection will be key. Get it right and it should be a fairly easy three points."
There will be nothing easy about playing Palace at their place when they are desperate for points and big Sam yet to win a match no matter what the team selection is in my opinion.
47 Posted 20/01/2017 at 19:34:15
48 Posted 20/01/2017 at 21:28:52
My feeling is that we've really got to turn in a poor display tomorrow to lose. I suspect it's his feeling too.
49 Posted 20/01/2017 at 21:56:13
Now I'm going ask a question here: Just say for argument's sake we go on a winning run while Idrissa is away. Do we bring him back in? Food for thought there...
50 Posted 20/01/2017 at 22:13:30
Lots of tempo, please!
51 Posted 20/01/2017 at 22:45:07
52 Posted 20/01/2017 at 23:02:15
Let downs can occur and Everton have been as good as any team this season for following up a high with a disappointment.
However, there was enough that happened last week to merit a surge of renewed confidence in this new Everton team with the youngsters emerging with flying colours.
Palace of course are spiralling the wrong way but will not lie down easily on their own patch so the Blues need to beware.
They won't have the speedy Zaha but still have some talent to be concerned about so hopefully Everton will take control early.
53 Posted 21/01/2017 at 02:22:56
We should have too much for them. But there's always the likelihood of an "Everton that" moment.
Like others, I would start with Robles and Schneiderlin (instead of Barry).
54 Posted 21/01/2017 at 04:02:37
This negativity transmits from the stands to the players. We as the supporters are always asking for the team to be mentally stronger it's about time we become equally stronger.
In a way, I'm glad we're not playing at home as our away fans are some of the best in the land. We need a good result and performance today. Even if it's only a one-nil win.. We're moving forward slowly, so enjoy your football, lads.
55 Posted 21/01/2017 at 08:20:16
56 Posted 21/01/2017 at 08:46:29
Excited for the rest of the season and the signings we will make in the summer. 2017-18 will see silverware coming back home! COYB!
57 Posted 21/01/2017 at 09:05:53
Let's hope they get the reward they deserve. Little Ademola back on his own manor, to come on as sub and score again.
58 Posted 21/01/2017 at 09:09:01
59 Posted 21/01/2017 at 09:58:50
I do not care about other teams, only Everton. Please help. Thanks. And we will win 2-0 against Crystal Palace
60 Posted 21/01/2017 at 10:57:51
Your guess is as good as mine what the result will be!
I suspect its going to be close with a draw a likely result, which I won't be that disappointed with if it's a decent game.
Putting my natural pessimist face on, after a great result last week, we usually manage to play badly the following week.
Allardyce will have a cunning plan worked out to throw us off our game, no doubt. Say what you want about him, but he's a good tactician.
61 Posted 21/01/2017 at 11:22:50
62 Posted 21/01/2017 at 11:46:27
63 Posted 21/01/2017 at 11:48:01
Really hoping that we can continue where we left off last week, with the same system and lineup.
64 Posted 21/01/2017 at 12:29:41
Goalie is surely Robles he looks quite commanding to me now and with a good run in the side he might yet save us a lot of money.
65 Posted 21/01/2017 at 12:30:54
67 Posted 21/01/2017 at 13:33:20
I'd expect Rom to get a tough game of being double marked and poor support.
68 Posted 21/01/2017 at 13:41:08
69 Posted 21/01/2017 at 13:41:57
Thanks for the link, nice read from our point of view. Never knew Alan Whittle played for Crystal Palace.
Speaking of Which, I was only born in 1970. Was Alan any good? I'm having a pint with my dad later and shall ask his opinion. Just wondering what our senior toffees thought of him?
70 Posted 21/01/2017 at 13:45:23
71 Posted 21/01/2017 at 13:50:49
72 Posted 21/01/2017 at 13:57:23
Slightly off topic but before the game a little light relief.
It's about Bramley-Moore Dock
73 Posted 21/01/2017 at 14:01:13
74 Posted 21/01/2017 at 14:01:47
75 Posted 21/01/2017 at 14:04:20
76 Posted 21/01/2017 at 14:09:46
Come on you Swans.
77 Posted 21/01/2017 at 14:10:39
78 Posted 21/01/2017 at 14:15:02
79 Posted 21/01/2017 at 14:15:07
80 Posted 21/01/2017 at 14:26:42
Come home now, job done.
83 Posted 21/01/2017 at 14:42:52
Freezing cold day.
Kopites - faces like slapped arses - slumping out of Anfield having lost to the bottom side.
YNWA (except when they lose).
Now come on you Mighty Blues.
Don't let us down.
I'd take a scabby 1-0 today.
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