The FourFourTwo Preview: Crystal Palace vs Everton
Another cry for help from self-harming Palace.
Keith Millen’s getting the Crystal Palace gig on a game-by-game basis until the end of the season at this rate – but even the local boy-turned-assistant doesn’t want it. Tony Pulis is clearly cold on the Eagles, while the Welsh FA have denied any contact with bookies’ favourite Chris Coleman.
- WBA 2-0 Palace (Prem)
- Palace 0-2 Arsenal (Prem)
- Palace 1-4 Fulham (Prem)
- Liverpool 3-1 Palace (Prem)
- So'ton 2-0 Palace (Prem)
- Everton 0-0 Spurs (Prem)
- Villa 0-2 Everton (Prem)
- Everton 2-1 Hull (Prem)
- Man City 3-1 Everton (Prem)
- Everton 3-2 Newcastle (Prem)
Jose Mourinho’s former No.2 Aitor Karanka is in the frame, but even Middlesbrough could pip Steve Parish to the post with a first move. You could say they’re in a bit of a pickle at Selhurst Park.
Bottom of the league with nine defeats from 10 and with three fewer points to their name than the Derby side of 2007/08 had at this stage of their god-awful season, it’s reasonable to suggest times are tough.
They’ve only netted six times all season (the joint-lowest total in the league), and three of those came in one game against fellow drop-diggers Sunderland. Unsurprising, then, that they’ve failed to score in six games already.
Never mind, though, it’s only Everton heading south on Saturday. That’s Everton in seventh, a point off second with only one defeat at Etihad-idolisers Manchester City all season. Phew, that’s a relief.
Roberto Martinez must be rueing his side’s slow start to the season. Had they not drawn with Norwich, West Brom and Cardiff in their opening three games, the table would have looked an even prettier sight for the Spaniard, whose Goodison Park tenure has started where its predecessor’s left off.
Last weekend the Toffees ground out a hard-fought goalless draw against Tottenham, without really troubling the north Londoners on their own patch. It’s these kinds of games they could do with winning to really shrug off their ‘best of the rest’ tag but take nothing away from them – they’ve not conceded in four hours now. Another quietly impressive season so far.
For Palace, Adlene Guedioura is out with a rib problem, while Jonny Williams and Jack Hunt are still nursing dicky ankles. Glenn Murray is still out with the ACL injury that has kept him out all season, and Palace will be praying last season’s top scorer is Rickie Lambert mk. II (and then some) upon his return.
Romelu Lukaku is expected to be fit for Everton despite picking up a knock in last weekend’s draw with Spurs, but Arouna Kone (knee) could be out for the rest of the season after being told he requires knee surgery. Apostolos Vellios (knock), Darron Gibson (ACL) and Antolin Alcaraz (groin) won’t be making the trip either.
Player to watch: Kevin Mirallas (Everton)
The Belgian with the Premier League’s joint-highest number of assists this season (four) admits he’s thriving without the more restrictive shackles of David Moyes.
"It's easier because I speak Spanish with him and I understand better,” the midfielder said last month. “The Spanish style of football is my type of football and with Roberto it is very different. Under David Moyes I was not as free but now I am on the line (out wide). I feel I am more consistent now. I play better and better."
It’s hard to argue with the man himself. The 26-year-old might have joined Everton as a proven goal machine with Olympiakos, but his shift out wide has certainly done him no harm since his move to Merseyside last summer. No team has used the left-hand side more than Everton this season – unsurprising with Leighton Baines so integral – so that Mirallas has still proved so creative is even more impressive.
At Aston Villa two weeks ago the Belgium international enjoyed most of his touches in more advanced positions than even Lukaku up front, and although Everton’s attacking men were scarcely in the game, he still created two chances for his team-mates.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- Everton 4-0 Palace (Prem, Apr 05)
- Palace 1-3 Everton (Prem Aug 04)
- Everton 1-1 Palace (LC, Sep 01)
- Palace 1-3 Everton (Prem, Jan 98)
- Everton 1-0 Palace (Prem, Aug 97)
Millen’s ill-fated spell as Bristol City manager in 2010/11 didn’t see him cross paths with Martinez’s Wigan – although he did mastermind a 1-0 win over Brendan Rodgers’ Swansea, Martinez’s former club, at the Liberty Stadium that season.
The Croydon-born boss has the reins of his hometown club for another game at least, but you can bet he won’t be too upset to pass them on when Palace finally do make their appointment.
Facts and figures
- Nine of Crystal Palace’s last 10 Premier League victories have come at Selhurst Park.
- Everton have gone 4 hours without conceding a league goal.
- There have been 5 goals from penalties in the last 5 meetings between Crystal Palace and Everton.
- Selhurst Park has seen 3 goals scored from penalties already this season, more than any other ground this season.
- Everton have averaged a possession figure of 58% away from home this season; only Manchester City (62%) have a higher figure.
- Only one side has ever won fewer points from their first 10 games of a PL season than Palace (3) have this term: Man City (2) in 1995/96.
- Everton have lost only 1 of their opening 10 top-flight games in successive seasons for the first time ever. It’s only the 10th time overall that they’ve lost so few of their opening 10 top-flight league matches.
- The average finishing position of teams losing only 1 of their opening 10 Premier League games is fourth.
- Crystal Palace have been relegated from the Premier League 4 times, more than any other side.
- Everton have only won 2 of their last 20 Premier League trips to London, although their most recent trip (to West Ham in September) ended in victory.
- Crystal Palace have lost their last 7 games by 2 or more goals, a Premier League record.
- Palace have lost 4 of their 5 home matches and have conceded first in 8 of their 10 Premier League fixtures this term.
- Palace have lost every match this season against top-half opponents.
- Everton have drawn the first half in 7 of their last 11 away matches against promoted teams and have drawn 5 of their last 10 games against promoted clubs.
- Everton are unbeaten this season against bottom-half clubs.
Palace to fire a blank (again), lose (again) and Lukaku to help himself to at least one (again). 0-2.