Easter Monday sees Everton take on Crystal Palace. Returning to action following the international break, Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton must win to go level on points (49) with the three teams currently occupying the Europa League qualification spots – West Ham United (7th), Liverpool (6th) and Tottenham Hotspur (5th).
They go into the clash with Roy Hodgson’s Palace on Monday evening as favourites, with the Eagles sat in 12th place in the Premier League table. A win for the visitors though would see them reach the magic 40 points total which many see as the amount required to ensure survival.
Previous meetings between the two sides do fall in favour of Everton. The Toffees haven’t suffered defeat against Palace in their last 12 meetings, the last loss coming in September 2014.
Earlier this season, Ancelotti’s side headed to Palace’s Selhurst Park and came away with three points courtesy of goals from forwards Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison in a 2-1 triumph. That victory made it three from three in the opening stages of this campaign.
Another narrow victory would be more than welcome for The Toffees this time around, and they have received a boost this week with individuals returning from injury as confirmed by boss Ancelotti in his pre-match press conference.
Although still without goalkeeper Jordan Pickford through an abdominal injury sustained in the 2-1 defeat to Burnley before the international break, Everton are able to welcome back second-choice ‘keeper Robin Olsen.
Olsen has recovered from a similar injury and will certainly be in contention for the starting 11. Alongside him, star man James Rodriguez is able to return to action having missed five matches with a calf problem and the Colombian could add to the five goals and four assists he has already registered in the league so far this campaign on Monday.
Elsewhere, Jean-Phillipe Gbamin is available for selection in an Everton matchday squad for the first time since August 2019. Gbamin has suffered hamstring and achilles injuries since joining The Toffees in the summer of 2019 so has only made two appearances in that time.
Fabian Delph, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Bernard will miss Everton’s clash with The Eagles though.
In his own pre-match press conference, Palace manager Roy Hodgson confirmed that his squad had no new injuries to report following the conclusion of the international break.
Young defender Tyrick Mitchell will return to contention at Goodison Park while Nathaniel Clyne (muscle strain) and former Everton man James McCarthy (groin) will undergo late fitness tests before a decision is made on their inclusion in the match-day squad.
Hodgson reiterated that striker Connor Wickham has to prove his fitness before he is chosen while James Tomkins, Mamadou Sakho and James McArthur all remain out of the picture with long-term injuries.
Ones to watch
Dominic Calvert-Lewin is in great form and will pose a definite threat on Monday, especially if he is able to use his pace to break away from an aging Palace defence.
Involved in a massive 40 per cent of Everton’s goals in the Premier League so far this season, the 24-year-old will be hungry to net as many as possible as he is still in with an outside chance of taking home the Golden Boot.
Fresh from international appearances with England, the striker needs to influence the game and help The Toffees to a vital victory.
Meanwhile, the most obvious threat for Palace is Winger Wilfried Zaha who remains at Selhurst Park despite continuous talk surrounding his future.
Playing for Ivory Coast in the recent international break, Zaha has returned injury-free and will look to make the difference against Everton on Monday with his driving runs and shots at goal.
Nine league goals to his name already this season, it’s going to be key that he is kept quiet if Everton are to come away with the three points.
Everton: Olsen, Holgate, Keane, Godfrey, Digne, Allan, Davies, Gomes, Rodriguez, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin
Crystal Palace: Guaita, Ward, Kouyaté, Cahill, Van Aanholt, Eze, Milivojević, Riedewald, Schlupp, Benteke, Zaha
Where to watch
Kicking off at 18:00 GMT on Monday Evening, Everton vs Palace can be found on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Premier League. It will come as the first instalment of a double header to round off the weekend’s action, concluding with Wolverhampton Wanderers vs West Ham United at 20:15 GMT.