PREVIEW | Crystal Palace vs Everton

Have we all recovered from Thursday night? A protester, a controversial sending off and a 99th minute Alex Iwobi winner capped of a bonkers evening at Goodison Park. The 1-0 victory against Newcastle moved Everton three points clear of the bottom three with two games in hand.

Attention this weekend turns to the FA Cup and Crystal Palace, who the Blues are looking to beat to reach the semi-finals. A victory on Sunday would see the Toffees book a ticket to Wembley and reach the FA Cup semi-finals for the first time since 2016.

Frank Lampard’s side go into the game buoyed by Thursday’s result. Winger Alex Iwobi scored just his second goal of the season in the ninth minute of fourteen added minutes to stop the rot for his side, who had lost their last four games in a row without scoring. Frank Lampard also said that he broke his hand in the wild celebrations.

Crystal Palace have arguably been the surprise package this season in the Premier League. Tipped by many to be relegated, Patrick Viera is doing a terrific job at the helm, with Palace sitting in eleventh place, just two points off Aston Villa in ninth.

The Eagles go into tomorrow’s fixture unbeaten in their last five, drawing with Manchester City last time out. Viera’s side have taken four points off the league leaders, and beat Championship side Stoke City 2-1 in the last round.

The two sides have met once in the Premier League this season at Selhurst Park, with Palace running out 3-1 winners. Two from Chelsea loanee Conor Gallagher and one from James Tomkins was enough to see off Everton on that day. But a new manager, and maybe even a newfound confidence following Thursday means that Viera and his side will be facing a very different Everton team.

Palace do not have many injury concerns going into the FA Cup Quarter-Final and have a near full-strength team available. Nathan Ferguson is out with a hamstring injury, whilst James McArthur, Will Hughes and Luka Milivojevic are doubts for the Eagles, who are looking to reach the semi-finals for the first time in seven years themselves.

Frank Lampard is without a number of key first-team players for tomorrow’s clash. Jordan Pickford, who missed the Newcastle game through illness is still out, with Fabian Delph and Yerry Mina still on the injury table. Dele and Donny van de Beek both miss out as they are cup-tied. Allan also starts the first of a three-match ban after seeing red on Thursday. Everton’s appeals to have it rescinded and reduced to a one-match ban were unsuccessful.

Tomorrow could see Nathan Patterson handed another start in a Blue shirt, as well as Ukrainian Vitalii Mykolenko. The return of Dominic Calvert-Lewin is also a huge boost to the Toffees, as his impact on Thursday’s game was of significant importance and arguably swung the game Everton’s way.

One to Watch – Crystal Palace

Chelsea loanee Conor Gallagher has been a stand-out performer for Crystal Palace this season and should be in line for a nomination for Young Player of the Season.
The midfielder has eleven goal involvements in twenty-five appearances (eight goals, three assists) including two against the Blues. His form has earned him a recall to the England national team for matches against Switzerland and the Ivory Coast.

The 21-year-old has a number of strengths and caused the Toffees considerable problems when the sides met earlier on in the season. His strengths include his dribbling, tackling and defensive contribution – it is no surprise that many Palace fans want to make his loan a permanent move in the summer.

He does however have his weaknesses, including his aerial duels and discipline, something that Everton could look to target.

One to Watch – Everton

If Everton do stay up this season, Alex Iwobi could become a cult-hero following his winner against Newcastle. He had been brilliant all game and his goal capped off a fantastic performance. The skill beforehand to skip past Dan Burn was also sublime.

The goal was only his second of the season, but it will do his confidence the world of good, as will an encounter with an Evertonian in traffic.

His dribbling caused the Magpies backline all sorts of problems and if he features, he could certainly cause Palace’s defence some issues. His crossing is something that still needs development, but with a manager such as Frank Lampard, this will surely improve.

Both sides go into the game on the back of important Premier League results. Palace will feel optimistic after keeping a clean sheet against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City – a feat they have achieved in both games they have played them, whilst Everton’s win could kickstart a much-needed run of good form to drag them away from the relegation zone.

Everton have only lost once in the last fourteen meetings between the two sides (that loss being this season), so have a pretty good record against tomorrow’s opponents.

The Blues have also scored at least 2 goals in five of their last six FA Cup games – a good omen against a strong and resolute Palace defence.

However, Palace are unbeaten in their last five and Everton’s away form speaks for itself. One win on the road all season (Brighton & Hove Albion) is not good enough. They have also failed to register a shot on target in their last two away games.

Given the short turnaround from Thursday, Everton’s away form and the likelihood of squad rotation, it is hard to see how Everton will get a result. Everton also have to contend with escaping relegation, which may see Lampard pick a weakened team. Palace on the other hand have nothing to lose and go into the game strong favourites.

Prediction: 2-0.

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