After an Everton-less FA Cup weekend, the Blues are back in action on Saturday away to a resurgent Crystal Palace.
Crystal Palace Vs Everton Preview
By Eoin Leeson
Everton’s last game was a drab 0-0 draw at home to West Brom. We were found out and contained quite easily by Albion and even if defensive expert Tony Pulis is managing the Baggies, our attacking quality should have broken them down, especially at Goodison.
Then there was the penalty fiasco. As a fan, it was really disappointing to see that Leighton Baines wasn’t on the penalty and that if he wasn’t going to take it that it wasn’t decided pre-match.
It wasn’t what we needed with the form we’re in. I think it’s important that Phil Jagielka imposes himself as captain and makes sure that no more situations like that occur.
Martinez, who I am still fully backing as our manager, needs all the help he can get at the moment.
Since then, the Everton squad has been in Qatar for a warm weather training camp. Roberto Martinez says the trip went very well and made the squad stronger but the weather in London on Saturday is going to be just a tad colder than in Qatar and I hope that the players will be prepared for that.
Another talking point this month is the transfer window.
We are yet to bring anyone in and the only deal that has been done is Samuel Eto’o leaving for Sampdoria. He may not have been around for long but it was great to have him at the club while he was.
His departure means we should be looking to bring another striker to the club as well as a winger, centre back and a keeper. Our squad is very talented but there’s no denying it needs a boost.
When it comes to the way we’re playing, a mixture of the performances we gave in the Manchester City draw and the 3-0 win over Aston Villa last year would be ideal.
The players need to enjoy their football and focus on the team and the game at hand. Thinking about the current rut won’t be good for their mind set.
James McCarthy, one of, if not our best and most important player should return tomorrow which is absolutely terrific news.
I’ve been waiting aeons for McCarthy to run the midfield with Muhamed Besic and I’m hoping that my wish will be satisfied tomorrow.
However, Martinez being the Barry fan that he is may make me wait even longer.
Sylvain Distin and Darron Gibson are expected to make the squad after groin and knee problems respectively while Mirallas is back after that ‘injury’ he picked up against West Brom.
So, what about the opponents Crystal Palace?
The Eagles lie 13th in the table, one place below our good selves and level on points.
It’s been an average season for them, Tony Pulis’ departure just a couple of days before the campaign started rocked them and when Neil Warnock came in things didn’t go very well.
He soon lost his job and in came fans favourite Alan Pardew. They’ve won four from four under the silver haired, former Newcastle boss and will be very confident heading into Saturday’s clash.
They’ve made four signings this month in the form of Arsenal striker Yaya Sanogo on loan, free agent Shola Ameobi, midfielder Jordan Mutch and Lille left back Pape Soure.
These additions add to a squad sprinkled with some good players like stopper Julian Speroni, midfielders Joe Ledley, James McArthur and Mutch, pacy wide men Wilfried Zaha and Jason Puncheon and striker Dwight Gayle who has had a tremendous goal scoring season.
Luckily for us Palace are without captain Mile Jedinak and winger Yannick Bolasie because of international duty. Both are key cogs in the Palace team and are major losses.
They will also be without Jerome Thomas who has a minor knock.
The Selhurst Park outfit are resilient and will not give up no matter what the situation is. Already under Pardew they’ve come from behind to win against Spurs, Burnley and Southampton.
Our game against them in September saw them take all three points even after Romelu Lukaku had given us the lead and then there was the infamous game against Liverpool last season where they came from 3-0 down to salvage a 3-3 draw.
Similarly to us they don’t keep many clean sheets but are fond of scoring so both sides may cancel each other out. You’d expect goals but the last time we played Palace away the game ended 0-0, so who knows.
Gaining some momentum will be crucial for the last 16 games of the season and I’d like to think a win tomorrow would kick start that momentum.
The squad and manager are capable, that’s clear. We aren’t going to be relegated so everyone at the club just has to fight to make sure we finish this disappointing season strongly.
The fans have to stick with the team. We, as fans, are all down at the moment but I believe most of the players are too.
Think how great it would be to silence Selhurst Park and beat Pardew. I know I’d love it.
CRYSTAL PALACE LIKELY LINE UP: Speroni, Ward, Dann, Delaney, Kelly, Ledley, McArthur, Mutch, Puncheon, Gayle, Zaha (4-3-3)
EVERTON LIKELY LINE UP: Robles, Coleman, Jagielka, Stones, Baines, McCarthy, Barry, Mirallas, Naismith, McGeady, Lukaku (4-2-3-1)
PREDICTION: Crystal Palace 2-2 Everton.