PREVIEW | Crystal Palace vs Everton

Everton’s first win in nine games relieved some of the pressure on under-fire manager Rafa Benitez. The Blues came from 0-1 down to beat Arsenal 2-1 – meaning they have now won ten points from losing positions, the most of any club in the Premier League.

Goals from Richarlison – who had two goals ruled offside in tight calls, and a late stunner from star-man Demarai Gray ensured Everton took all three points. In a game where a number of fans left their seats in the twenty-seventh minute in a protest against the board, it was vital that the Toffees picked up a positive result.

Rafa Benitez’s side travel to Selhurst Park tomorrow afternoon, looking to pick up were they left off against Arsenal, with a win seeing them rise to ninth if other results go their way.

Crystal Palace sit one place below the Merseyside club in fourteenth place, after a 1-0 defeat to Manchester United. Fred’s goal thirteen minutes from time was enough for the Red Devils, and the result means Palace are winless in four, which includes three straight defeats – though they were all by a one-goal margin.

Patrick Viera, appointed in the summer, has certainly made the Eagles a better team to watch, as well as a harder team to break down.

Viera’s side could welcome back full-back Joel Ward after he missed last week’s defeat against Manchester United through suspension, as well as central defender Joachim Andersen, who has been sidelined since November with a hamstring injury.

However, the South London club are still without Nathan Ferguson and James McArthur, though both players are recovering well from their injuries.

The Toffees on the other hand are without defender Yerry Mina again after he suffered a calf injury in Monday’s victory over Arsenal. Mina, who had just returned from a hamstring problem was replaced on the half-hour mark by Mason Holgate and faces another spell on the treatment table.

The Blues are also still without striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who stepped up his recovery this week with individual training sessions. Midfielder Tom Davies is also unavailable with a foot injury.

In his press conference on Friday, Rafa Benitez confirmed that striker Salomón Rondón was fit again, and could make a return to the side.

It remains to be seen whether Lucas Digne will be recalled to the side, after being dropped for the Arsenal game. It is believed that Digne had reservations with how Benitez was asking him to play. According to The Athletic it is believed that their relationship had become strained in recent weeks, which resulted in tensions boiling over in the build-up to Monday’s fixture.

However, Benitez confirmed in his press conference that Digne had trained with the squad, and that he would decide if he plays against Crystal Palace.

One to Watch – Crystal Palace

Midfielder Conor Gallagher has been in fine form for Crystal Palace this season. The Chelsea loanee has seven goal involvements in fourteen games this season (four goals and three assists) and has arguably been the Eagles stand-out player this season.

The 21-year-old has an average rating of 7.41 on WhoScored, and although failing to register a goal or an assist in his last three games, will be looking to continue his impressive start to the season.

According to FBRef, Gallagher is in the eightieth percentile for non-penalty goals. This means that only twenty percent of other midfielders are better goal scorers than him in the Premier League – which is very impressive given his age and the standard of Premier League midfielders. He also likes to tackle, whilst getting fouled often as well, meaning that he is good at shielding the ball.

Yet FBRef notes that one of his weaknesses is his progressive passes. On average he makes 1.76 progressive passes per ninety minutes, which puts him in the third percentile, meaning ninety-seven percent of midfielders play the ball further forward than him. Everton will be able to limit this again if they press Palace.

One to Watch – Everton
Richarlison got his first goal in five games in Monday’s victory over the Gunners. He technically scored a hattrick as he also had two goals ruled out for offside by VAR. Richarlison celebrated his goal by mimicking a linesman putting up his flag for offside, ironic as it was VAR that ruled the goals out and not the linesman.

The Brazilian received a rating of 8.14 in the fixture and was certainly man of the match in a lot of Evertonians eyes for his heart, desire and passion.

The 24-year-olds goal tally rose to three after his header against Arsenal, and he is the man who will cause Palace problems.

His heading is his known strength, but it is his defensive contribution that will be crucial if Everton are to get anything out of the game. The Eagles average sixty percent possession at home, with Everton only averaging forty-one away from home. It is safe to assume that Viera’s side will have a lot of the ball, meaning that Richarlison will have to work hard defensively, and then spearhead any

Sunday’s opponents have not beaten the Blues since 2014, with Everton winning two of the last three fixtures.

But Sunday’s game is going to be very different, as Palace look a much better side under Viera then they did under Roy Hodgson, and will be hoping to climb the table with a win.

It remains to be seen whether Lucas Digne will be back in the squad tomorrow, but as one of Everton’s few creative outlets, he needs to be.

Palace are looking for their first win in four, whilst Everton need to build on their performance against Arsenal and start climbing the table again.

Prediction: 1-1.

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