Don’t say I didn’t warn you, because I did. But whilst I fully expected defeat, even I didn’t envisage the thrashing that ensued last week. 4-0 at half-time told its own story. Allardyce and others may argue it was a more even contest in the second half, I would argue Arsenal simply downed tools as the game was finished after 20 minutes.
Luckily, Everton are back to the relative security of Goodison Park this weekend as they take on Crystal Palace. Whilst on paper the fixture is much more appealing than last weekends, the stats warn against complacency. Everton haven’t beat Crystal Palace at Goodison since their 4-0 victory way back in 2005. It was a memorable win in a great season and certainly a far cry from our current woes. Mikel Arteta, Tim Cahill x2 and a 16-year-old James Vaughan scored the goals that day… ah nostalgia my old friend, sometimes you are all we have.
Palace find themselves just three-points clear of the relegation zone, but only four-points behind Everton. You don’t need ‘quick maths’ to tell you Everton still aren’t fully out of the woods yet in relegation terms. With some tough fixtures ahead, Roy Hodgson’s men will be looking at this as the most winnable game. However, the omission of Wilfried Zaha through injury is a major blow for the Londoners. If it’s considered the most ‘winnable’ game for Palace, it certainly is a ‘must win’ for Allardyce. His obscure decision to make so many alterations to a winning side has added more pressure to his already scrutinised managerial role.
There’s bad blood between Hodgson and Allardyce. Allardyce was caught calling Hodgson ‘’Woy’’ by an undercover reporter back in 2016. Such a LADbible-like term has no place coming out of an Everton managers mouth, but to be fair I haven’t yet fully acknowledged Allardyce as our manager. In fact, I’m one more embarrassing defeat away from leading a series of rallies outside Goodison holding aloft signs with ‘’Not My Manager’’.
Funes Mori played his first game in 10 months’ this week which was nice to see. Lord knows we need some cover in that position. He featured for the U23’s against Arsenal. Do we look into the fact the game finished 4-0 to the Gunners, despite the Young Blues winning their previous three consecutive games?…..Erm, maybe, but not just yet. The fixture will still perhaps come too soon for the Argentinian to start, but he may make the substitute bench. Given their unwarranted omissions last week, expect Rooney, Davies, Coleman and Sigurdsson all to start, particularly considering the latter has scored two and assisted four goals in his last six games against Palace. Bolasie will be eager to feature against his former team, but I am not sure any Evertonian will be eager to see him. Even taking into account his long-term injury, I’m not sure Yannick can finish a wank, never mind finish one of his ‘Wacky Waving Arm-Flailing’ runs with a decent cross.
Despite the lack of wins on home soil, Everton boast a record of no defeats in six matches against Palace (W2 – D4). That record really must continue Saturday afternoon. Our inconsistency and lack of ambition means it’s futile focusing on looking up the table with any optimism, but we still pursuit that luxury of not looking down it with any distress. 12 games to go, nine points to attain, let’s start with three on Saturday.