Match Preview – Crystal Palace (H)

We’re always excited to see the Blues run back out to Z-Cars ready to fight again after the boring international break. But following recent results preceding said break, that feeling seems to be considerably heightened amongst Evertonians this time around.

That is because, in stark contrast to the drab, dull performances under Sam Allardyce (who by the way deserves a mention for an absolute howler of a comment putting Eric Dier on the same level as Sergio Busquets during the recent break), we are beginning to see the exhilarating emergence of an attacking revolution at Everton Football Club.

Following 3-0 and 2-1 successes over Fulham and Leicester City respectively, a top-class front four of Bernard, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Theo Walcott and Richarlison has fans salivating and plastic seats slamming against back rests at their every touch. We are starting to get the feeling that Marco Silva is creating something beautiful at Goodison Park.

That’s not to disregard the defensive discipline which is also beginning to be established in Silva’s team. We are seeing more consistency in the back four with every game, with Lucas Digne settling in seamlessy at left-back, Michael Keane and Kurt Zouma establishing a solid partnership at centre-back, and Jonjoe Kenny doing all he can to fill a rather large Seamus Coleman-shaped void while the Irishman continues his recovery from injury.

Oh and we haven’t even mentioned the imminent return of a certain pair of deadline-day signings from Barcelona.

Crystal Palace arrive at Goodison with an injury doubt to star player Wilfried Zaha, having not won a Premier League game without him for over two years – the last one coming against now-League One club Sunderland in September 2016. Palace have scored just five goals in the Premier League this season.

However, they mustn’t be underestimated. It would be harsh to call them a one-man team, as has been accused regularly over the last couple of years. They possess other dangerous players like Andros Townsend, Max Meyer and Jordan Ayew. Also, 20-year-old right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka has been one of the Premier League’s rising stars recently, making the second-most tackles in the Premier League (32) so far this season, a feat bettered by only our very own Idrissa Gueye (37).

The Eagles have a better defensive record than Everton so far this season, conceding 9 goals to the Toffees’ 12. As much as we may be able to nullify their threat if we defend well enough from set-pieces, they may prove difficult to break down.

Fortunately, we haven’t had the poor luck of our neighbours across the park during the international break, with only one player returning with a slight injury. However, that player is integral to our team. Idrissa Gueye has been an invaluable weapon in breaking down opponents throughout this season as shown by his aforementioned tackling stats, and Marco Silva will be sweating on his fitness before this Sunday.

Not sweating too much, though. Morgan Schneiderlin has proved himself capable of filling that void so far this season, and if not, it might just be time already for Andre Gomes to step up alongside Tom Davies.

Apart from that, Silva has expressed his desire to keep the team the same when it is in winning form, as it is in this moment. So don’t expect to see too many changes to the starting eleven which overcame Leicester a couple of weeks ago.

Let’s be honest, though, we’re all just absolutely buzzing to see more of our little Brazilian trickster, Bernard. Hopefully he’ll be able to wriggle through a resolute Palace defence on Sunday afternoon to send Everton back towards the end of the table where we belong. After all – Bernard will tear you apart, again.

– Tom

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