Everton vs Crystal Palace Preview: Can Everton re-find their early season form?

Everton vs Crystal Palace Preview: Can Everton re-find their early season form?

After slipping to their first defeat of the season against Bournemouth on Saturday, Everton now look to bounce back against in-form Crystal Palace.

Ollie Haggart

Everton will be hoping to get back on track with a win this Friday, as Goodison Park will host the in-form Crystal Palace side who are aiming for their fourth consecutive win.

Everton suffered their first Premier League defeat in last Saturday’s action at the Vitality Stadium, as a stunning Junior Stanislas goal ensured Bournemouth manager and toffee fan Eddie Howe snatched all three points, halting the visitor’s five game unbeaten run thus far in the league.

Alan Pardew’s team, however, will be contesting with the chance to win their fourth successive game for the first time since April 2015, and will be buoyed on by the second half comeback against an unimpressive Sunderland team last weekend in which they won 2-3.

Both sides yet to be truly tested

Although there are no certainties in the Premier League, the majority of Everton’s games were predictable wins, with the highest placed team faced in Everton’s four wins being 10th placed West Bromwich Albion.

However, Everton’s opening game of the season ended in a 1-1 draw against currently 2nd placed Tottenham; ignoring the factors of lack of fitness and a new manager, this result may prove that Everton are not quite contesting at the level of their Champions League bound opponents.

It is a similar story for the Eagles, with their last two victories coming against the bottom two sides in Sunderland and Stoke respectively, and newly promoted Middlesbrough in 16th.

Losses to Tottenham and West Brom in the opening fixtures of the season, like Everton, may be down to the lack of match fitness, but may also project how the remainder of the season will pan out for Pardew’s men.

The two sides crashed out of the EFL trophy in last week’s third-round tie, with both Norwich and Southampton putting two past the unimpressive Everton and Crystal Palace respectively.

Team news

Romelu Lukaku, the star man for Everton in their most recent victory against Sunderland will start for the blues, with the striker having been recently troubled with a toe problem.

Everton manager Ronald Koeman has stated that it will be “too risky” for Leighton Baines to start, as his hamstring injury will keep him side-lined for the second week running. Meanwhile, James McCarthy (groin) is ready to train after he returns from international duties with the Republic of Ireland, who Koeman hopes will “protect him”.

Palace forward Wilfried Zaha will likely start for the visitors today, after he missed last weekend’s impressive comeback due to a slight hamstring strain.

Jonathan Benteke, brother of Palace’s second highest scorer Christian, will face four months out after the Belgian suffered from a serious knee injury in training; The Eagles’s top scorer and captain Scott Dann remains absent (hamstring).

Key Players

Christian Benteke will be hoping to add to his four goals and five assists in six Premier League games against Everton. The striker will be hoping to keep his opposition at bay, and along with his teammates, and make it four games unbeaten at Goodison.

The Crystal Palace back-line will not have it easy though, with Romelu Lukaku being aware that he has three goals in his last four top-flight games against today’s opposition.

A familiar face around the Palace dressing room, Yannick Bolasie has made an impressive start to his Everton career, picking up two assists thus far – only one fewer than what he achieved at Crystal Palace last season.